Celebrated around the world every year on May 31, World No Tobacco Day was created by the Member States of World Health Organization in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes, especially in pregnancy where smoking is not only dangerous for the mother but even the baby too. This yearly celebration aims to raise awareness amid the global citizens about not only the dangers of using tobacco but also the business practices of tobacco companies, what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.
Are you pregnant? Then, you will have to give up certain vices such as alcohol and tobacco. Did you know using tobacco products such as waterpipe tobacco (hookah), various smokeless tobacco products, cigars, cigarillos, roll-your-own tobacco, pipe tobacco, bidis and kreteks can impact a pregnant woman’s overall well-being?
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Shalini Vijay, Senior Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Lullanagar’s Motherhood Hospitals, shared, “Cigarette smoking contains tobacco that can increase mortality and morbidity in pregnant women. Smoking has negative effects on a pregnant woman and the baby’s health.” She listed the complications that can arise due to smoking:
1. Cigarettes carry harmful chemicals, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar, and one will find it difficult to conceive due to too much smoking. It can also be the reason behind infertility.
2. Smoking during pregnancy leads to tissue damage in the unborn baby, mainly in the lung and brain, According to various studies, smoking can cause cleft lip.
3. Did you know there is also a strong connection between tobacco and miscarriage? Carbon monoxide present in tobacco smoke can keep the developing baby from getting enough oxygen.
4. Smoking can lead to preterm birth. This can lead to various complications in the baby as he/she grows. The child can have learning and behavioural problems, visual and hearing impairments, or any disability.
5. Babies will also have low birth weight. Mothers who are exposed to second-hand smoke while pregnant may also deliver babies with low birth weight.
6. Babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant and babies who are exposed to second-hand smoke after birth can also die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than babies who are not exposed to cigarette smoke
7. Babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant or who are exposed to second-hand smoke after birth tend to have weaker lungs.
8. Smoking can also lead to stillbirth, birth defects and an increase in the baby’s heart rate.
9. Smoking causes placental abruption, ectopic pregnancy or placenta previa (when it’s in a position where it could rupture during contractions).
Tips to quit smoking:
Dr Shalini Vijay advised, “Opt for a smoking cessation program, make your home a no-smoking area and avoid being around people who smoke. Caffeine will stimulate your urge to smoke. Also, avoid alcohol as it may also increase your urge to smoke and is harmful to your baby. Have sugarless mints when you feel like smoking. Try to take a walk, exercise, read a book or try a new hobby to distract yourself from smoking. Do not go to bars or clubs where people tend to smoke.”