Smoking And Pregnancy: Understand the Risks

Smoking And Pregnancy: Understand the Risks

Protecting the baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things a mother can do to give her newborn baby a healthy start in life. Every cigarette contains over 4,000 chemicals and smoking during pregnancy can be extremely harmful to the unborn baby.

Smoking while pregnant exposes the mother and her unborn child to an increased risk of health problems. Cigarettes can restrict the essential oxygen supply to the fetus. As a result, it can lead to a wide range of problems, including miscarriage, premature labour, low-birth-weight baby, etc. Low birth weight newborns are at higher risk of death and are more prone to infections, and long-term health problems in adulthood.


The more cigarettes a lady smoke during her pregnancy, the greater her risk of complications and having a low-birth-weight baby. It can be difficult to stop smoking, but it’s never too late to quit.

How Does Smoking Affect Fertility?

Smoking can cause fertility problems in both males and females. Women who smoke have more issues getting pregnant than women who don’t smoke at all. In men, smoking can affect the sperm count, impair sperm or contribute to impotence erectile dysfunction.

Pregnancy Complications From Smoking

Some pregnancy complications commonly experienced by women who smoke include:

  • Ectopic Pregnancy– this is pregnancy, usually in the fallopian tube, outside the uterus.
  • Foetal Death/Stillbirth – the death of the baby in the uterus
  • Low-Birth Weight
  • Placenta Previa – problems with the placenta, including early detachment from the uterine wall and blocking the cervical opening
  • Premature labour
  • Premature rupture of the membranes
  • Miscarriage

Smoking During Pregnancy – Harmful Effects on the Fetus

If a lady is pregnant, every time she smokes a cigarette, it cuts down oxygen to her unborn baby and exposes them to chemicals present in tobacco, including chemicals that cause cancer.

Some damaging effects of cigarette smoke on the unborn include:

  • Less oxygen supply due to carbon monoxide and nicotine
  • Risk of cleft lip and cleft palate being high
  • Retarded growth and development
  • Less fetal movements in the womb for at least 60 minutes after smoking a cigarette
  • Impaired development and functioning of the placenta
  • Changes in the child’s brain & lungs

Problems At Birth Due To Smoking During Pregnancy

Some of the consequences caused by smoking during pregnancy include:

  • Increased risk of premature birth
  • Increased risk of miscarriage and infant death
  • Lower birth weight
  • Risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy

Smoking And Breastfeeding

Many women may quit smoking when they are pregnant but resume smoking after giving birth. Smoking and breastfeeding is not an ideal combination. Stopping smoking during breastfeeding is an important step too.

Some of the trouble caused by smoking while breastfeeding include:

  • Chemicals in cigarettes can pass from the mother to the baby through breast milk.
  • Smoking can reduce milk production.

Secondhand (Passive) Smoke Harms a Baby

Passive smoking can affect the child before and after the birth. Second-hand smoke may also reduce a baby’s birth weight or risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Babies whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer health issues. Most commonly suffered disorders are bronchitis and pneumonia during their first years.

Smoking During Pregnancy Can Cause Health Crises For the Child in Later Life

Smoking during pregnancy can weaken a child’s health for years to pass. Health effects may include:

  • Weaker lungs
  • Higher risk of asthma
  • Low birth weight (linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension in adulthood)
  • Increased risk of being overweight in childhood
  • Greater risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

How Can Quitting Help a Mother And Her Baby?

Quitting smoking is important for the mother and child. Talk to the doctor about the best ways to quit smoking.

Improvements in the baby can be:

  • Get more oxygen.
  • Grow better.
  • Less likely to be born too early.
  • Have more energy and breathe more easily.
  • Less likely to develop heart disease, lung disease, and other smoking-related diseases.

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