Cigarette smoking during pregnancy has long been associated with increased risks of stillbirth, miscarriage, preterm birth, placental abruption, and low birth weight. It is believed to cause adverse impacts on fetal and maternal health.
The effects of smoking while pregnancy continue to manifest into your baby’s early and late childhood with a higher risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, future smoking in adulthood, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome, and poor academic performance in school.
Cigarette smoke is a complex mixture of more than 4000 compounds, including carbon monoxide, nicotine, heavy metals, and carcinogens. During pregnancy, smoking impacts your fetus negatively by restricting the supply of nutrients and oxygen, altering the baby’s growth, and also affects the development of the baby’s lungs and brain.
Harm from Smoking
Nicotine is a potent stimulant of the parasympathetic nervous system. It is an addictive alkaloid gotten from tobacco, and when it crosses the placenta has direct effects on the baby and placental vasculature. It also has an impact on maternal circulation.
Nicotine disrupts the baby’s neurotransmitter function and healthy brain development by binding nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the baby’s brain. This could lead to emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems in the baby.
Hence, children of smokers are more susceptible to learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Exposing your unborn baby to nicotine also puts it at risk of the later likelihood of addictive behaviors like smoking.
This is an odorless and colorless gas produced from tobacco combustion. When carbon monoxide is absorbed in the human system, it rapidly binds to hemoglobin, which forms carboxyhemoglobin. When this happens, iron atoms bind carbon monoxide molecules at the expense of oxygen molecules.
Over the time you take to smoke a cigarette, you expose yourself to 400-500 ppm (parts per million) carbon monoxide, which produces a baseline of 4% carboxyhemoglobin. The more you smoke, the more carbon monoxide concentration increases, causing a higher affinity of hemoglobin. This impairs the delivery of oxygen to the fetoplacental and myometrium unit.
Tar is the combusted matter present in cigarette smoke. Tar is what forms a residue on the mucous membranes, skin, and lungs of smokers. It damages your respiratory tract by biochemical and mechanical mechanisms.
It is highly composed of carcinogenic compounds like aromatic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and nitrosamines, which cause widespread oxidative damage.
Smoking Cessation When Pregnant
In conjunction with the chemicals mentioned above, other chemical compounds from cigarettes have further effects on you and the baby, as well. The smoking cessation rate during pregnancy is higher than that of the general smoking population.
With determination and commitment, you can quit smoking within your first trimester. Some women have been able to stop spontaneously when their pregnancy is confirmed; hence, quitting is possible within the first few days of pregnancy.
Spontaneous cessation can be propelled by living in a non-smoking household, awareness of the adverse effects of smoking to both you and the baby, smoking fewer cigarettes a day, and if the woman had a previous successful quit attempt.
If you had quit in earlier pregnancies, you are more likely to maintain successful cessation that those attempting to quit in their first pregnancy.
All in all, smoking during pregnancy is a preventable risk factor for neonatal and maternal morbidity. As you can see, the harm from smoking is mainly from carbon monoxide and tar; these two chemicals contribute to complications visible during pregnancy.
Nicotine, on the other hand, alters the fetus’s brain development and further contributes to behavioral disorders. Postnatal relapse is high and should be expected. To successfully quit smoking and continue to do so during pregnancy requires you to make positive adjustments in your life.
In the long-run, quitting is the best decision for you during and after pregnancy, as well. Smoking cessation will continue to improve your health even after the baby is born. Learn more on smoking and pregnancy on Childmode.