After just a few years of trying, my wife is finally pregnant and we are both overjoyed. The problem is that we both smoke. I’ve offered to give up smoking to encourage her to stop, for the health of the baby, but she doesn’t seem to have the will-power.
She also doesn’t believe smoking can adversely affect our unborn baby, as smokers have given birth to healthy babies over the years.
Gbade, by e-mail.
Nicotine addiction can definitely affect the health of a new-born child. When a woman smokes during pregnancy, it has been discovered that she’s more likely to experience vomiting, urinary tract infection and thrush.
It has also been proved that smoking leads to an increased risk of spontaneous abortion and chances of haemorrhaging, during pregnancy. Also, babies of smoking mums are on average 70g/200g lighter at birth. Also, carbon monoxide contained in inhaled cigarette smoke reduces the oxygen carried in a foetus by 40 per cent. This affects the baby’s growth.
A low birth-weight baby is more likely to require special care or even support, or problems such as breathing difficulties.
Apart from a high risk of premature birth, each cigarette that a pregnant woman smokes reduces blood flow through the placenta for 15 minutes, raising the baby’s heart rate.
Findings also revealed that women who smoke during pregnancy put their babies at increased risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in later life.
However, the good news is that the earlier in pregnancy a pregnant smoker stops, the lower the risk of any long term damage.
If she stops within the first three months, her chances of having a low-weight baby are similar to that of a non-smoker.