How smoking harms your baby
Robert Welch, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Providence Hospital in Michigan, says that “smoking cigarettes is probably the number 1 cause of adverse outcomes for babies.” (1) Welch goes on to admit that it would be much more preferable for pregnant women to have a serious disease, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, rather than smoke. The former can be controlled with medication, whereas nothing can be done to protect your baby from smoking.
Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals, at least 60 of which are carcinogenic. It’s tough for fully-formed adult bodies to fight off the toxins, but for a baby still in the process of being put together, it’s nigh on impossible to be unaffected.
The biggest devil in cigarette smoke is carbon monoxide, which prevents oxygen from being carried around in the blood stream and getting to the baby. This causes all kinds of complications, for the birth and afterwards. Lack of oxygen stunts the baby’s growth in the womb, affecting everything from cosmetic development to organ growth.
The risk of the baby having a congenital heart defect increases by 20-70%, potentially preventing the heart from being able to function. Brain development is stunted, which increases the chances of learning and behavioral disorders. Bone and muscle growth slows down, so the baby is born lighter.
Combined with the increased likelihood of a premature birth, this poses a serious threat to the baby’s life. To give you some figures, babies of women who smoke are around 8oz (200g) lighter than other babies and each year an estimated 2,200 births in the UK are premature due to smoking mothers.(2)
On top of an underdeveloped baby, there’s the increased risk of a miscarriage or a stillbirth. Each year in the UK there are around 5,000 miscarriages and 300 stillbirths attributed to smoking during pregnancy. That’s a lot of potential life thrown away due to mothers smoking cigarettes.
Pregnancy can be a difficult time to give up a highly addictive habit, but quitting smoking doesn’t have to be as hard as all that. Public Health England has, for quite a while now, advocated the use of e-cigarettes, claiming they are 95% safer than smoking tobacco. (3) But, they admitted, the long-term effects of e-cigarettes could potentially tell a different story.
Now, however, studies are coming out, including one funded by Cancer Research UK, that record the effects of smoking e-cigarettes over a long period of time, and the results support PHE’s endorsement of the Nicotine Replacement Therapy. E-cigarettes work like nicotine patches or gum do, but the benefit of vaping is that it mimics the action of smoking, helping to satisfy that psychological pleasure and desire for a cigarette. It also isn’t an expensive alternative with many starter kits available for under £20 and the monthly costs of vaping averagely comes in at around at least 50% cheaper than that of smoking traditional cigarettes.
Stunting the growth of your baby causes damages that last a life time, and cannot be undone. The first nine months of a body’s life are critical to the development of the rest, so you need to make sure it has the best food and energy supply you can possibly give it. Swapping tobacco cigarettes for vaping can also act as a pleasing room fragrance! (4) This way, after the birth you’re all set to bring up your baby in a pleasant, smoke-free environment, thereby avoiding the still severe dangers of passive-smoking. Two threatening birds, one electronic cigarette-shaped stone.