Pregnancy and Smoking Pregnancy is tough enough, but for pregnant women who smoke, it gets tougher, because they really need to quit. Otherwise, their unborn baby is smoking too, and that means trouble for the baby.
What are the risks for unborn babies of women who smoke? The biggest problem for babies whose mothers smoke during the pregnancies is that those babies have twice the risk of being born with an abnormally low birth weight. That low birth weight is a risk for illness, permanent disability, and even death. In addition, the mother is more likely to deliver the baby prematurely. Simply put, babies in utero do not like cigarette smoke, and it is dangerous for them.
In Maine, about 18% of pregnant women smoke into the last trimester, a rate 50% higher than the national average. Teen moms, single moms, and moms without a high school education were much more likely to smoke during the pregnancy. Clearly issues such as education and social support help pregnant moms kick the habit during pregnancy.
Kicking the habit during pregnancy also makes it more likely a mother will not smoke after the baby is born. A smoker in the home is a major health for a baby, putting it at greater risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, asthma, pneumonia, and other serious disease.
Pregnancy can be a strong motivation to the mother to quit, and there is help for pregnant women who want to quit. If you are a pregnant mother who smokes, or you know one, get them in touch with their doctor, or to the Maine Bureau of Health web site. The Maine Lung Association can also help.
If you are having trouble quitting, don't give up. Try to cut back as much as you can, because every cigarette you don't smoke is one that your baby does not smoke. Once you have cut down you might then be able to quit completely.