What Happens When You Smoke During Pregnancy?
If something isn’t safe to do before you’re pregnant, it’s definitely not safe to do while you’re pregnant. And when you smoke during pregnancy, it doesn’t just affect your body and health, it also affects your baby’s health and development.
So if you didn’t have motivation to quit smoking for your own health, your baby’s health should be your motivation. If your sweet child isn’t enough, then keep reading…
What happens to your body if you smoke?
Cigarettes release thousands of chemicals, including many that are cancerous and toxic, into your lungs and bloodstream.
To see what is actually in your cigarette, read my post, “What’s REALLY in your Cigarette?”
All these chemicals from your cigarette do damage to every part of your body including your:
- And Bones
Smoking even affects your immune system, raises your risk of heart attacks and strokes, causes erectile dysfunction, causes cancer, and increases your risk of miscarriage.
Sounds healthy right…?
Also, smoking is a “major risk factor for several problems with the placenta. The placenta is the “lifeline” structure that forms during pregnancy to provide the fetus with nutrients and oxygen. One such problem is placental abruption, a condition when the placenta separates from the uterus before childbirth. Placental abruption can cause severe bleeding and threaten the life of both the mother and baby.” 
So how does smoking affect your baby?
When you smoke during pregnancy all the toxic chemicals that you inhale get into your bloodstream, which is your baby’s ONLY source for nutrients and oxygen.
From BabyCenter.com, “The most serious complications — including stillbirth, premature delivery, and low birth weight — can be chalked up to the fact that nicotine and carbon monoxide work together to reduce your baby’s supply of oxygen. Nicotine chokes off oxygen by narrowing blood vessels throughout your body, including the ones in the umbilical cord. It’s a little like forcing your baby to breathe through a narrow straw. To make matters worse, the red blood cells that carry oxygen start to pick up molecules of carbon monoxide instead. Suddenly, that narrow straw doesn’t even hold as much oxygen as it should.” 
This oxygen shortage has terrible effects of your baby’s development. When you smoke during pregnancy, the risk of your baby being born early and/or weight less than 5.5 pounds at birth doubles. Smoking cigarettes also more than doubles the risk of stillbirth.
When you smoke, you’re affecting your baby’s:
- Brain: If you smoke during pregnancy, it can cause your baby’s brain to have lifelong consequences. Your child is more likely to have learning disorders, a lower IQ, and behavioral problems.
- Lungs: Because the high risk of premature birth, your baby’s lungs may not work on their own. Then means they may spend their first days or even weeks attached to a respirator. After your baby is breathing on their own, he/she may continue to have breathing problems (including being more vulnerable to asthma) — because of poor lung development and/or other adverse effects of the nicotine they were exposed to.
- Heart: Smoking in the 1st trimester (or longer) raises the risk of your baby being born with heart defects.
- Birth Defects: the risk of your baby having a birth defect, such as cleft lip and cleft palate, increase when you smoke.
- Weight: Smoking increases your baby’s chance of being born small. While this may sound nice to some expecting mothers, the risk of serious health problems increase with a low birth weight baby. And these health problems don’t end when they are an infant as they can affect your baby’s health as a toddler and as an adult.
- And the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is 2 – 3X higher.
You wouldn’t add tar or arsenic to your baby’s food, but essentially that’s what you’re feeding your baby during its development when you smoke during pregnancy.
A 3D animated look at how smoking affects your baby:
BabyCenter.com says, “Ideally, you should give up smoking before you conceive. For one thing, you’ll have an easier time getting pregnant. (Smoking lowers the chance of conceiving during any particular cycle by about 40 percent.) You also won’t have to struggle with quitting at a time when you should be thinking about other things, like eating well, exercising, and preparing for your baby’s birth.” 
Please give your baby the gift of health! Quitting at any time during your pregnancy will help, so if you’re in your 2nd or 3rd trimester, don’t think it doesn’t matter anymore because the damage is done.
While damage has been done if you smoked through part of your pregnancy, quitting will give your child more oxygen, lessen the chance of low birth weight and stillbirth, and will help your baby’s lungs develop.
For help with quitting today, see the resources I’ve posted at the bottom of my post, “What’s REALLY in your Cigarette?”