Guidelines for a tobacco-free pregnancy

Pregnant woman with hands on her belly

Pregnancy and Tobacco, a hazardous combination

Once the immeasurable happiness you felt from the news has subsided, a new thought – far less joyful — crosses your mind and quietly starts to settle: how will I manage to stop smoking for good? The days go by and you don’t light a single cigarette, but you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms and one question keeps coming back: is smoking this harmful for my baby? Your numerous medical appointments have convinced you that tobacco and pregnancy are not compatible.

This extremely hazardous combination is well-known and yet underestimated. Around 10% of women in France keep on smoking during the last three months of their pregnancy[1].

Tobacco dramatically enhances the risks of extra-uterine pregnancy, premature childbirth or placental abruption. To put it simply, it multiplies the risks of having complications during the delivery for both the baby and the mother.

Consuming tobacco during the pregnancy is also dangerous for the baby’s development. The chances of Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) are multiplied by 3, while it is common to see insufficient intra-uterine growth when babies have been exposed to cigarettes’ deadly smoke. The effects are visible as soon as the baby is born because of differences in size or weight [2], but also unfit lungs which prove incapable of working without exterior medical assistance. Researchers have shown that cigarettes’ components cause an imbalance which can alter the neuronal development of the fetus. As they grow, these children will have health issues such as asthma and respiratory disorders[3], hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavioral disorders and will have a lower IQ compared to children at the same age. It seems that the effects of tobacco don’t cause the same health issues with boys and girls. Young girls who have been in contact with tobacco during their fetal development will have a premature puberty and start menstruating between 8 and 10 years old, which increases significantly the risks of breast and uterus cancer [4]. On the other hand, young boys are more likely to have liver problems.

After the delivery, beware of relapses

You managed to stop smoking during 9 months by making of your baby’s well-being and health the top priority, why ruin everything now? Your baby is still an infant and should not be exposed to tobacco more often.

Here are 5 reasons why you should not resume your smoking habit after giving birth to your child:

  • If you decide to breastfeed your baby, it is strongly advised not to consume nicotine because it will go directly into your baby’s system through your milk and will also diminish the production of the latter.
  • The chances of sudden death are higher when the newborn’s parents are smokers.
  • Passive smoking is just as deadly as actually smoking. Inhaling tobacco smoke can cause chronic otitis as well as serous hearing impairment [5].
  • Children, whose parents are smokers, are twice as likely to eventually become smoker themselves, compared to those who have non-smoker parents.
  • By forgetting your addiction once and for all, you increase your life expectancy and, consequently, your chances of seeing your children grow old and your grand-children grow.

Don’t become part of the 82% of women who resume their smoking habit after giving birth. Think about all the efforts you made during your pregnancy and seize this opportunity to operate a complete withdrawal from tobacco.

Kwit’s pieces of advice

  • Do not turn to nicotine byproducts as substitutes for cigarettes during your pregnancy. Nicotine enhances the risks of hypoxia, anoxia and asphyxia [6].
  • Ask for advice when you have medical appointments with specialists. This is the right time to discuss your use of tobacco and address how you can be assisted given your health state.
  • Unexpected iron will and vigor will enable you to let go off tobacco and prevent you from relapsing. Maternal instinct grows well before childbirth and this will give you the necessary strength to overcome your urges and the withdrawal symptoms. Believe in yourself.
  • When you stopped smoking as your child was not yet born, you set an example for him/her. He/She will never see his/her mother with a cigarette.
  • Do not hesitate to take part in new relaxing activities while you are withdrawing from tobacco. Think about doing prenatal yoga or getting initiated to mindfulness meditation. Besides helping you to get your mind off the stress, these activities will help you forget about the withdrawal symptoms you may still be struggling with.
  • If you need help, download the Kwit application (https://get.kwit.app) and follow us on social networks (Facebook and Twitter). We will help you overcome your urges to smoke and will eagerly share your achievements.
— Marine B.
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