26 November 2021

The 8 Dangers of Smoking While Pregnant

Smoking affects the woman’s body, from hindering blood circulation to rapid skin ageing. However, the impact of smoking is increased significantly when you are pregnant. This time around, the dangers not only affect you but your baby as well. 

When you continue smoking while pregnant, here are some of the risks you may encounter.

Miscarriage or stillbirth

Typically, miscarriages occur within the first three months of your pregnancy. On some occasions, they may occur at a much later stage in gestation. This is what you call stillbirth. 

Unfortunately, miscarriage is always a possibility when you’re pregnant, but the risk is much greater if you smoke. Research suggests that the chemicals found in cigarettes cause complications in the pregnancy, such as slow foetal development or placenta problems, leading to either a miscarriage or a stillbirth. 

Placental abruption

This is a compilation during pregnancy where your placenta separates from your uterus before the birth of your baby. 

The placenta is only a temporary organ in your body that appears during pregnancy. It’s attached to your uterine walls and acts as a connecting bridge between you and your growing baby. Through the umbilical cord connected to the placenta, you can transfer nutrients and oxygen to your baby. 

Therefore, the amount of nutrients and oxygen that goes to your baby is decreased when you experience placental abruption. As a result, you may experience heavy bleeding, stillbirth, preterm delivery, or infant death. Compared to those who don’t smoke, women who do have a high risk of experiencing this condition.

Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is another potential danger for women who smoke. A study suggests that nicotine in cigarettes causes contractions within the fallopian tubes. When these contractions occur, the embryo cannot pass through the tubes and settle in the uterus. Because of this, the fertilised egg implants itself either in the fallopian tube or the abdomen. In such cases, an emergency procedure is necessary to remove the embryo and avoid further life-threatening situations. 

Birth defects

Not only does smoking during pregnancy affect your health, but it also increases the risk of delivering a baby with birth defects. Some of the common defects include congenital heart disorders, cleft palate, and respiratory conditions. 

Low Birth Weight

Another possible defect is having a small baby. When you smoke, you increase your chances of delivering a baby with low birth weight. More than the size, the abnormally low weight can lead to serious health conditions like:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental delay
  • Vision or hearing impairment

In more severe cases, low birth weight can lead to the death of a newborn. As such, it’s important to quit smoking during pregnancy. 

However, if you have stopped smoking but are continuously exposed to secondhand smoking while carrying a baby in your womb, your baby’s health may still be affected. 

Asthma attacks

When developing infants are exposed to smoke, their lungs will be affected. Because they’re still in the developing stage, the smoke can cause irreparable damage to the baby’s lungs and alter pulmonary function permanently. As a result, the risk of developing asthma and other respiratory conditions is increased tenfold. 

Ear infections

Besides respiratory conditions, secondhand smoking can also cause ear infections. Since the eustachian tube connects the nose to the ears, the impact of the smoke as it enters the baby’s system can also target the ears. This leads to swelling, pain, infection, fluid production, and interference with pressure equalisation in the baby.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Smoking and secondhand exposure affect the baby in the womb and after birth, as seen in the risks above. Among these risks is SIDS. 

SIDS, also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is a condition described as the sudden and unexplained death of an infant one-year-old or younger. Mothers can reduce the risk of this syndrome by avoiding smoking during and after pregnancy. 

Reduce the risks by practising preventive measures

With these, it’s clear to see how smoking can negatively impact your pregnancy. So, to help you quit smoking, you can go to counselling with a gynaecologist in Singapore

Beyond quitting, you also need to practice safety measures to limit your exposure to secondhand smoke while pregnant. These include:

  • Wearing a mask when going out to avoid inhaling smoke and other pollutants that may cause harm to the baby
  • Discussing smoking boundaries with your partner if he himself cannot quit
  • Taking the necessary vitamins and health supplements to build the baby’s immune system

To ensure your baby’s health throughout pregnancy, get pregnancy care and go for regular checkups with a gynaecologist.