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Smoking & Pregnancy

by Guest
Posted August 1 2010 02:41pm
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Now that you're pregnant, taking care of yourselves has never been more important. It's especially important to avoid or give up smoking, alcohol and other harmful drugs. Not only can they affect your health, but also your unborn baby's health and development.

Read on to learn about the many harmful effects of smoking, drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. We've also included a few important tips to help you cut down or quit their use.

If you smoke while you're pregnant, you're harming your health and that of your baby. The nicotine found in cigarettes narrows your blood vessels, making it harder for oxygen-carrying blood to get through to your baby's developing organs. Carbon monoxide, a compound in smoke, also reduces the amount of oxygen carried by the blood to your baby. As a result, smoking can cause the following problems during pregnancy:

  • Miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death
  • Placental problems and bleeding
  • Poor growth of the baby
  • Preterm birth

If you continue smoking during your pregnancy, it's possible for your baby to be born too soon or smaller than average. It's also possible for your baby to die or have health problems, learning disorders, visual problems, respiratory illnesses and cerebral palsy. If you are exposed to second-hand smoke in the home or workplace, your baby may also be at risk for these problems as well.

If you would like to quit smoking, here are some helpful tips to get you started. You can:

  • Quit, even if it's late in your pregnancy. Quitting or decreasing even late in pregnancy can improve birth weight.
  • Call your local health department, community centre or healthcare provider for further information about programs in your area.
  • Attend a stop smoking program.
  • Line up people to support you in trying to achieve your goal. Starting to smoke again is always a danger, and is more likely without good support.
  • Strongly encourage your other family members to stop smoking around you.

Remember that smoking is an addiction that is difficult to overcome. It may take you several attempts before you succeed. People who try to quit require a great deal of support.

Here are some more tips on how you can quit smoking

Acknowledgement
Adapted with permission from 'Prevention of Low Birth Weight in Canada: Literature Review and Strategies,' 2nd edition (1998), Best Start Resource Centre.

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