Smoking is one of the worst addictions to have, especially if you are an expecting mother. It is not only going to harm you, but also the fetus. Read about these effects to understand the severity of the situation.
Smoking cigarettes is one of the most dangerous addictions, and yet one of the most common addictions that we get hooked to. The smoke that leaves your cigarette has more than 4,000 hazardous chemicals in it; some of them highly carcinogenic. The long-term effects of smoking are devastating enough to compel smokers to quit at once. If the smoker is an expecting mother, the situation worsens. The effects of smoking on the fetus are so many and so severe, that this habit should be given up at once. The chemicals that harm the fetus the most are tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. Of course, other chemicals such as ammonia, formaldehyde, arsenic, hydrogen cyanide, and creosote also have their effects, but are lesser in comparison.
Effects of Smoking on Fetal Development
The thyroid gland starts developing 11 weeks after implantation takes place. It performs important functions such as maintaining proper growth rates and metabolizing food for the fetus. The smoke inhaled by a mother during pregnancy, harms the development or growth of this gland. Since proper development of the thyroid gland is hampered, it affects the growth rate and many a time results in retarded growth. A point to be noted here is that secondhand smoke can also cause a similar impact on the baby’s health.
Problems in Blood Circulation
We all know that cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is one of the most harmful gases that exist and the amount of this gas that a smoker inhales is as good as the amount that comes out of a car exhaust. This gas starts replacing oxygen in the fetus’s blood. To make up for this lost oxygen, the fetus produces more number of red blood cells. This excess production of red blood cells, causes the blood to thicken. This thickness then hampers proper flow of the blood, which might prove fatal as the blood does not reach all parts of the body.
Smoking also results in premature or preterm births. Premature births are those that take place before 36-37 weeks. As we have read before, chemicals present in the smoke reduce the flow of blood. This reduced blood flow causes death of certain tissues at times. This in turn leads to the early tear of fetal membranes. The placenta detaches itself from the uterus earlier. Premature births will bring with it problems such as low birth weight and developmental issues.
While in the womb, the baby breathes through the placental blood and this blood is deprived of oxygen if the mother is a smoker. The oxygen in the blood is replaced by nicotine. Reduction in oxygen harms the fetus’s brain centers, that are responsible for breathing actions. Also, in case of premature births, the baby’s lungs are not developed completely; thus, they cannot function efficiently. This may lead to respiratory problems such as asthma after the baby is born.
The blood of a smoking, pregnant woman contains nicotine. The same blood is supplied to the fetus via the placenta. Physiologically, the fetus produces neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. When nicotine enters the body, it hampers the production of these neurotransmitters and replaces them. Once the baby is born, the supply of nicotine is cut as it no longer receives blood from the mother. Due to this, the baby can experience withdrawal symptoms.
Lack of Proper Nutrition
Every time the mother inhales smoke from a cigarette, she experiences contractions of muscles. When these muscles contract, they cause spasms. These spasms affect the arteries that provide nutrients and oxygen to the fetus, through the placenta. Since the supply of nutrients is hampered, the baby is going to suffer from low birth weight. Low birth weight means an unhealthy and immunocompromised baby.
These effects are really an eye opener for those who underestimated the effects that smoking has on a fetus. If you want your baby to be healthy, the only option is to quit now. These effects are caused by both, active and passive smoking. A healthy lifestyle is a must for healthy conception and birth. Say no to smoking and provide your baby with the good health it deserves.