Everyone knows smoking is bad for them but like any addiction, it’s not a simple thing to give up. No-one will ever tell you that kicking the habit is easy, but there is no better incentive than starting a family and no better time than right away.
Conceiving: Why should I quit smoking right now?
Most prospective parents who smoke intend to give it up once they are pregnant, but smoking can make it more difficult for that to happen.
For women, smoking (including passive smoking) can seriously effect fertility. One study quoted by the NHS suggested that the fertility of women who smoke is 28% lower than the average non-smoker. It also suggested that women who smoke are three times more likely to take over a year to conceive.
Male fertility is also negatively affected by smoking. Smoking causes low sperm count and can damage the delicate blood vessels.
The good news is that if you stop smoking now your body will immediately start to repair itself.
Pregnancy: What risk is smoking to my unborn baby?
So, you’ve found out your pregnant and it doesn’t feel real yet. You keep doing just one more pregnancy test to be sure and you’re always surprised when it comes back positive. Those first days are exciting, scary and just plain odd, but over the next few months as the news sinks in, you will start to feel an overwhelming desire to protect your unborn baby.
Smoking while you’re pregnant, even if you cut down, can have some very sever implications for your baby, including the increased risk of premature delivery, miscarriage and stillbirth. The reason for this is the 4,000+ chemicals (including carbon monoxide) that you breath in with every cigarette. These are then passed from your bloodstream to your baby, restricting their oxygen and making their fragile little body work much harder to survive.
This may be a bleak thought, but if you quit smoking now both you and your baby will benefit.
Newborn: Why should I quit for good?
You’ve made it through pregnancy and have been rewarded with the most exquisite creature alive, your baby. It won’t be long before you’re completely besotted and willing to do anything for them, but if you’re still smoking you may be causing them distress and putting their life in danger.
If you continued to smoke through pregnancy, then your baby was smoking too and as a result is now hooked on nicotine. One of the first experiences your newborn will have is nicotine withdrawal, which will cause them a great deal of stress and may make it almost impossible to stop them crying.
Cot death (or SIDs) is one of the scariest words in the world when you have a newborn but if you smoked while pregnant, your baby’s risk will raise by at least 25%.
If your baby is breathing in second hand smoke they will be more prone to lung problems and breathing difficulties, but if you stop straight away, your baby’s breathing will improve rapidly.
From my own experience as a child. I had severe asthma until I was around 12. I had to use inhalers multiple times every day, I couldn’t do sports with the other children, and on more than one occasion I ended up in hospital or on a nebuliser struggling to breath. But shortly after my family gave up smoking my breathing started to improve until I reached a point where I no longer needed an inhaler at all! This completely changed my life.
Quitting: What are my options?
Get some help
You’re more likely to quit if you have support. You GP, Midwife or local Stop Smoking service at www.nhs.uk/smokefree can give you advice, help, or even one on one counselling to help you quit smoking for you and your baby.
Nicotine Replacement (gum/patches)
Most pregnant women can use nicotine replacement to help them quit but it is important to speak to your GP first.
E-cigarettes are becoming a popular option to help smokers kick the habit. Research is ongoing into their full effect on the users health and that of passive smokers but if you have tried other methods and failed e-cigarettes could be for you.
As with nicotine replacement, speak to your GP or local stop smoking service first, then find an e-cigarette such as the AYR (www.vapeayr.com/) and give traditional cigarettes the boot!
If you would like more information, help, or support head to the NHS SmokeFree website at www.nhs.uk/smokefree
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