March 8th 2017 is national no smoking day and for the estimated 15.8 % of the UK population who regularly light up this is the day you are encouraged to kick the habit.
Parents to be are one particular group who should consider quitting smoking for the sake of their own health and that of their unborn child.
Currently statistics report that just over 10% of babies in the UK are born to mothers who smoke. Whilst this figure is still high, this is a reduction from the previous year of 11% and down from 15% a decade ago.
While this is good news there is no doubt that smoking in pregnancy is harmful to both the mother and the baby; even passive smoking is bad.
Cigarettes contains around 4,000 different chemicals which go into your lungs when you smoke. The types of chemicals found in cigarettes include; Acetone (found in nail polish remover), Ammonia (a common household cleaner), Cadmium (active component in battery acid), Carbon Monoxide (released in car exhaust fumes), Formaldehyde (embalming fluid) and of course nicotine.
Once they’ve gone into your lungs, the nicotine, poisons and carbon monoxide cross the placenta to the baby. This can cause issues such as:
- complications during labour
- increased risk of miscarriage, still-birth and sudden unexpected death in infancy (sometimes referred to as SIDS or cot death)
- premature birth
- facial abnormalities at birth such as cleft lip
- low birth-weight
- behavioural problems such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
- performing poorly at school
There is no safe level of smoking. There is no evidence that cutting down is beneficial, and so the only option is to stop smoking completely.
Stopping smoking is hard for most people and you shouldn’t be embarrassed to seek help to quit. If you are thinking of stopping or have recently stopped smoking and are pregnant speak to your midwife who may refer you to a stop smoking adviser. You can also talk to your GP or go to the NHS website – https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree – Support can be offered over the phone, via apps, emails or face to face.
You may be offered Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) in the form of patches, chewing gum, mouth sprays etc. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’, it is safe to use NRT in pregnancy. This is because NRT does not contain poisons such as tar and carbon monoxide, but does provide some nicotine to help manage withdrawal cravings once you have stopped smoking.
If your partner smokes then you need to encourage them to quit too as it will increase your chances of giving up too.
Quitting smoking will also save significant amounts of money. A 10 a day habit will save you around £2190 as well as ensuring you provide the best start in life to your baby.