Smoking during pregnancy puts you, baby at risk
Should I try to quit smoking before I become pregnant?
Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it a thousand times." It is not easy to quit, but knowing you increase your chances of having a healthy baby can motivate you to quit smoking.
Nicotine is the reason it is so hard to quit smoking. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Over time the body becomes physically and psychologically dependent on nicotine. Be prepared to deal with the fact that you may be facing withdrawal symptoms such as: depression, feelings of frustration and anger, irritability, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, restlessness, headache, tiredness and an increased appetite.
The great news is that more women are successful at quitting because of a pregnancy than at any other time in their life.
You probably are already aware that smoking during pregnancy puts you and your baby at a higher risk for several health problems. Smoking doubles the risk for developing a problem with the placenta. The placenta is what nourishes the baby during the pregnancy. The umbilical cord connects the baby to the placenta. The umbilical cord of a nonsmoking mother is thick, strong, white with the blood vessels looking blue. The umbilical cord of a smoking mother is not near as robust. It is thinner, the skin of the cord does not have good tension, and it looks yellow.
The March of Dimes has found that certain factors make it more likely that you will be able to quit. Those factors are: attempting to quit in the past, having a partner who doesn't smoke, getting support from family or other important people in your life, and understanding the harmful effects of smoking.
There are four additional factors that seem to help people with quitting smoking. Those are: making the decision to quit, setting a quit date, deciding how you are going to deal with withdrawal symptoms and deciding how to maintain yourself off the cigarettes.
You may not be able to do it on your own. Talk with your doctor about which options might be best for you. Visit the Web site: Smokefree.gov for information. You can also call (800) QUIT-NOW for help.
Even if you are already pregnant, it will be good for your baby if you quit now. If you are in your first trimester and you quit smoking, you can reduce the risk of miscarriage. If you are in your second trimester and you quit, you decrease your chances of developing placental problems and reduce the risk of pre-term labor. It is never too late to quit smoking during a pregnancy. If you are in your third trimester and quit, your baby has a chance be born at a normal weight, and you reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome.)
The air you breathe is the air your baby breathes. Make it the cleanest air possible. Good luck!
Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital's Family BirthPlace. Her column appears every other week in WellBeing. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.