Quitting smoking while pregnant: WHY and HOW

To be pregnant is one great miracle that you can be thankful of. You have been given the chance, the opportunity and the responsibility to conceive a baby—your own flesh and blood. Pregnancy is an opportunity because many women want to conceive but cannot do so. Pregnancy is a responsibility because your child’s development relies on how you take care of her/him and how you take care of yourself—she eats what you eat, she feels what you feel, and she’ll take in the toxic substances that you put into your body.

Harmful effects of smoking to your baby
Smoking can cause many problems for the growing fetus. Smoking while pregnant can result to:

a. Low birth weight
Smoking increases your baby’s risk of being born with a low birth weight. Babies with low birth weight tend to have weaker resistance against diseases.

b. Birth defects
Smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase your baby’s risk of having heart defect at birth. Babies born with smoking mothers are most likely to have learning disorders, behavioural problems and low IQ.

c. Premature delivery
Smoking while pregnant will increase your baby’s risk of being delivered prematurely. Being delivered prematurely can cause serious health problems to the baby. Since your baby’s organs are not yet fully developed, the baby may have breathing problems and problems in nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. Babies delivered before their term are also more prone to infection, have more difficulty feeding, and may suffer from long term health problems such as chronic lung disease, impairment in the hearing and eyesight and developmental problems.

d. SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome
Smoking increases a baby’s risk of suffering from SIDS.

e. Lung problems (asthma)
Children born with smoking mothers are more likely to have breathing problems and develop asthma.

How to quit smoking while pregnant
There are many ways you can quit smoking. The important thing is you quit as soon as possible and as soon as you know you are pregnant. Although the best time to quit would be before getting pregnant, quitting as soon as possible will lessen the health risks for your baby.

Here are some ways you can quit smoking while pregnant:

1. Nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy can help you deal with the physical effects of nicotine withdrawal and it helps ease the symptoms that you feel when you stop smoking. NRTs can come in patches, lozenges, gum, nasal spray, and inhalers. Although there is no concrete evidence that nicotine can affect the fetus, it is advised that pregnant mothers do not take NRTs. This is because nicotine may have effects on the growing fetus and as the child grows up. Talk to your doctor on the possible effects of NRT to your baby and other options to help you quit.

2. Stop smoking out rightly (going cold turkey)
You can also opt to go cold turkey—throw away your cigarettes and stop smoking out rightly. Just have determination and persistence and you will succeed. You can list and do many things to stop yourself from going back to smoking:

– Remind yourself the reason why you need to stop smoking (for your health and your baby’s health)
– Eat a balanced diet and deal with cravings (withdrawal syndrome) by eating fruits or eating candy.
– Keep yourself busy and stay away from “triggers” that cause you to smoke
– Exercise
– Engage in sports

3. Counselling
Counselling along with other methods of quitting can help you succeed in quitting. Support groups or counsellors can help you deal with the mental addiction and as well as with the withdrawal symptoms.

Now that you are pregnant it is your responsibility to be as healthy as possible so that the baby growing inside your uterus will also be healthy. Quit smoking now!



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