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Smoking During Pregnancy

August 29, 2022
Virtual Gynecology

Smoking is bad for anyone, pregnant or not. However, if you smoke, you should quit once you become pregnant or find out you are pregnant.

There is no "safe" level of smoking during pregnancy. Cigarettes contain nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other toxins that affect your and your baby's health when inhaled. When you smoke during pregnancy, you:

  • Reduce oxygen supply to you and your baby
  • Increase your baby's heart rate
  • Increase your risk for placental disorders such as placental abruption and placenta previa
  • Increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth
  • Increase the baby's risk for premature birth and low birth weight
  • Increase your baby's risk for congenital disabilities
  • Increase your baby's risk of developing breathing or respiratory problems
  • Increase your baby's risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

How about Secondhand Smoking?

Secondhand smoking happens when you inhale smoke from a burning cigarette and smoke exhaled by a smoker. Secondhand smoking, also known as passive smoking, is more harmful than smoking itself. The reason is that the smoke from the end of the cigarette or exhaled by the smoker contains more harmful poisons than the smoke inhaled by the smoker.

If you are exposed to secondhand smoke, you and your baby are at risk of health complications before, during, and after your baby is born. These include low birth weight, stillbirth, congenital disabilities, respiratory problems, allergies, ear infections, and many others.

When pregnant and after childbirth, don't let anyone smoke in your house, car, or anywhere around you. Also, avoid going to places where people smoke.

How Can I Quit Smoking Before or During Pregnancy?

If you are finding it hard to quit smoking, you can talk to us at My Virtual Physician or your health care provider. We will provide information about smoking cessation programs that can help you.

You may also want to put the following measures in place:

  • Keep your matches, lighters, and ashtrays out of sight.
  • Limit caffeinated beverages and alcohol, as they can stimulate your urge to smoke. 
  • Ensure your home is a no-smoking area.
  • Avoid places where people smoke, such as bars and clubs.
  • Ask people who smoke not to smoke around you.
  • Take mints, sugarless gums, or candies as substitutes when you feel like smoking.
  • Try out other activities to divert your attention whenever you urge to smoke. This could include exercise, reading a book, walking, etc.
  • Join a support group or smoking cessation program.

How Do I Deal with Withdrawal Symptoms? 

Nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes that your body gets used to. When you quit smoking, you may manifest withdrawal symptoms. These include:

  • Craving cigarette
  • Feeling irritable, angry and frustrated
  • Headaches
  • Feeling hungry often
  • Frequent coughing
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping problems or insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation

Withdrawal symptoms are often transient. They are strongest during the first week after quitting and go away within two weeks. It may, however, last for a month or a few more for some people.

Dealing with withdrawal symptoms requires discipline, and you can get all the support you need. You can try the following to help you:

  • Think about your reasons for quitting and remind yourself that your symptoms will pass.
  • Remind yourself that withdrawal symptoms are easier to treat and manage than the health complications smoking can cause for you and your baby.
  • Avoid people, places, and activities that are associated with smoking.
  • Keep your mouth busy with healthier substitutes like sugarless gum, hard candy, celery, pickles, apples, and carrots. 
  • Try this exercise: Take a deep breath through your nose and blow out slowly through your mouth. Repeat ten times.

You may experience frequent urges to smoke even after quitting, and the withdrawal symptoms disappear. Don't give in to the cravings. They are short-lived and will go away on their own. 

If you relapse into smoking after quitting, don't lose hope. Quit again.

Contact us

A visit to us helps you get your prenatal care started while you await your appointment with your local OB doctor. Your virtual physician can help to electronically order prenatal care labs and/or send an order to the nearest radiology facility for you to get an ultrasound.

At My Virtual Physician, we are available to help guide you through your pregnancy and answer any questions that may arise. We are in network with many insurance health plans, including Medicaid, Medicare, United HealthCare, and Blue Cross.

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