Smoking Tobacco During Pregnancy - It may surprise many to learn that in the western world, about 30% of women of childbearing age currently smoke and that two-thirds of these women will continue to smoke during their pregnancy.
There has been a recent trend upwards for the numbers of women smoking compared to a general downward curve for men. The various dangers of smoking to public health are broad and varied and well documented. As far as pregnancy is concerned, the possible problems of Smoking Tobacco During Pregnancy are including:
- Moderate reduction of fertility in adults over time.
A small increase in the risk of spontaneous miscarriage for heavy smokers (more than 20 cigarettes per day).
- Low birth-weight of children whose mother smokes (an average of 200g lower birth weight has been noted in studies, with lower birth-weights appearing at higher smoke intake levels). This effect is due to the decrease in oxygen and increase in carbon monoxide made available to the fetus.
- The components of cigarettes have direct poisoning effects on the fetus and placenta which can cause early maturation/calcification of the placenta resulting in a first delivery being required.
- Children of women who smoke often have more respiratory problems especially with continued smoking in the baby's presence after the birth.
Having said all that, it should be noted that there are no established links between tobacco use and an increase in fetal/newborn mortality. Also, there are no demonstrated risks of increases in fetal malformations or mental development associated with tobacco.
As a future father, it is as much your responsibility as the mother's to decide whether a reduction or complete cessation of smoking will happen in your household. If your partner wants to give up, then you should try to assist by giving up yourself. Remember that passive smoking from your cigarettes has the same harmful effects on your child both unborn and after the birth.
If you don't smoke, but your partner does, then gentle persuasion with the facts presented calmly has a better chance of success than constantly nagging at her.
Stopping smoking can be a stressful process for everyone and when combined with the other stresses associated with a pregnancy the psychological support required mounts up. Nicotine replacement patches can often help. Sometimes a significant reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked each day is the best compromise.
As a final note for Smoking Tobacco During Pregnancy: a significant cut in cigarette intake has measurable benefits and can reduce the risks of low birth-weight babies. Completely stopping smoking before the second trimester will result in no significantly different risk compared to non-smoking mothers. Stopping during the second trimester will still reduce the risk of early delivery and a low birth-weight baby.
And the best advice of all... "Don't give up giving up!"