Local lifestyle columnists

No ‘butts,’ secondhand smoke isn’t healthy for your unborn baby

By From page C4 | July 27, 2014

Smoking is bad for you. It can cause serious health issues, as well as cancer, heart disease, stroke and eye disease that can lead to blindness.

Smoking is bad for your unborn baby, too. When you are pregnant, the placenta grows in your womb and supplies your baby with food and oxygen. When you smoke during pregnancy, you pass harmful chemicals through the placenta and umbilical cord into your baby’s bloodstream. This can cause health problems for your unborn baby.

How does smoking affect your pregnancy?

Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than nonsmokers to have:

  • A tubal pregnancy. This is when a fertilized egg embeds itself in one of your tubes outside the womb and begins to grow. A tubal pregnancy cannot result in a normal birth. It can cause serious, dangerous problems for the pregnant woman.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Increased risk of miscarriage.
  • Increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • A stillbirth. This is when a baby dies in the womb before birth but after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

How does secondhand smoke affect your pregnancy?

Secondhand smoke is when you breathe in smoke exhaled by a smoker. The smoke that burns off the end of a cigarette or cigar actually contains more harmful substances (tar, carbon monoxide, nicotine, and others) than the smoke inhaled by the smoker. If you are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke while pregnant, you have an increased chance of having a miscarriage, stillbirth, tubal pregnancy, low birth weight baby and other complications of pregnancy.

How does smoking affect your baby?

When you smoke during pregnancy, your baby is exposed to dangerous chemicals like nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar. These chemicals can lessen the amount of oxygen that your baby gets. Oxygen is really important for helping your baby grow to be healthy. Nicotine may have harmful effects on your baby’s heart, lungs and brain.

If you smoke and are pregnant, quitting now can make a big difference in your baby’s life. Here are some important tips to help you quit:

  • Write down your reasons for quitting. Look at the list when you are tempted to smoke.
  • Choose a day and throw away all your cigarettes or cigars, lighters and ashtrays.
  • Ask your partner or a friend to help you quit. Call that person when you feel like smoking. Stay away from places, activities, or people who make you feel like smoking.
  • Keep yourself busy. Go for a walk to help keep your mind off smoking. Use a small stress ball or try some needlework to keep your hands busy. Snack on veggies. Keep mints or gum (preferably sugarless) on hand for those times when you get the urge to smoke.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Ask your doctor about quitting aids, such as patches, gum, nasal spray and medicines. Don’t start using these without your doctor’s OK, especially if you’re pregnant.
  • Look for programs in your community to help you stop smoking. These are called smoking cessation programs. Ask your doctor about programs in your area. Ask your employer to see what services are covered by health insurance.
  • If there is no smoking cessation program in your area, you can call 800-NO-BUTTS.

Don’t feel badly if you don’t quit right away. Keep trying! You’re doing what’s best for you and your baby.

Betsy Campbell, MPH, CEHRS, is Senior Health Educator, with Partnership HealthPlan of California, a partner of Solano Coalition for Better Health.

Betsy Campbell Mph


Discussion | 3 comments

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  • just sayin'July 27, 2014 - 8:56 am

    The world is not your ashtray. Smokers are vulgar people.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Ulises S. GuberJuly 27, 2014 - 10:25 am

    WE should add more TAX to the damn pack of cigarettes to cover the cost of battling all the fires they start... anyone who is caught tossing a lit cigarette from their car should be arrested and charged with arson ...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TrixieMomJuly 27, 2014 - 7:42 pm

    Not true. I smoke and am a nice person, so there! I do not smoke in my car or in my home; so there are no butts on the road from me.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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