Most people understand that behaviors such as drinking and smoking should be strictly forbidden when a woman is pregnant, but they might not understand exactly why. They may not fully realize the harm in lighting up a cigarette while they are carrying their unborn child. However, if they better understood the risks that they are posing to the baby growing inside of them, perhaps they would change their mind.
Nicotine in cigarettes will cause the baby’s brain to develop millions of acetylcholine receptors in the brain and regulate in an unnatural way, neurochemicals, in the brain, including mood changing chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.
Newborn babies of mothers who smoked during pregnancy will have to suffer through withdrawals of nicotine and will have to chemically detoxification. The damage that occurs in their nervous system might be compromised throughout the rest of their lives.
Smoking cigarettes isn’t the only way that nicotine might affect your unborn baby. If you are trying to quit smoking using nicotine replacement therapy, the nicotine that goes into your body can be more powerful than cigarettes. Professor from the Duke University Medical Center, Theodore Slotkin, found that nicotine patches send more nicotine to the fetus then smoking does.
Heavy smoking also increases various complications related to pregnancy. There is a greater chance of miscarriage, abruption of the placenta, low weight at birth and premature birth. However, if you quit smoking prior to 16 weeks of pregnancy, then you can avoid many of the above complications. The placenta’s of women who smoke look older then women who do not. This is partly due to the calcification of the blood vessels that occur when a woman smokes.
Other complications include bleeding in the vagina, distress and even death of the fetus. The carbon monoxide that smokers breath in, also affects the blood of the unborn fetus. Because carbon monoxide replaces oxygen, some fetuses compensate for this by creating extra red blood cells, so that they can get more oxygen. This can result in the fetus’s blood getting too thick and blood supply can be cut off from the organs which can lead to death.
A pregnant woman is not only at risk if she smokes but if people around her smoke. Secondhand smoke can also damage the fetus. For the above reasons, it is very important for women not to smoke while pregnant and also not to allow others around her too either. If a woman is pregnant and lives with a smoker, she should make very clear, her desire for them to stop. Her health and the health of her unborn baby is at risk.