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Smoking during pregnancy

Being pregnant is a good reason to give up smoking – perhaps the best one you'll ever have. Smoking is harmful to the baby in the womb, during breastfeeding and if it inhales the smoke.

Speak to your doctor or midwife about getting help to give up smoking. This applies to everyone in the family. Smoking is addictive and quitting takes a lot of willpower, but most people succeed in the end. Many people stop smoking during pregnancy and while the children are small, and some give up for good.

To increase your motivation read below to find out what happens when an infant is exposed to smoking.

Smoking during pregnancy harms the baby
Smoking harms your baby right from when it is in the womb because all the toxins are transferred to the baby via the placenta and umbilical cord. After birth, the toxins reach the baby through the mother's milk.

Passive smoking is harmful to children, and no family members should smoke
If anyone in the family smokes, your child will be a passive smoker. Passive smoking harms the baby in various ways. A baby subjected to passive smoking is at greater risk of cot death, allergy-related illnesses, respiratory infections, ear infections and colic. Establish a rule that smoking is only allowed outside and tell all your family and friends.

Arguments and facts to motivate you to stop smoking
• Carbon dioxide reduces the oxygen in the blood. As a result, your baby's brain gets less oxygen during pregnancy.
• Nicotine narrows the blood vessels in the umbilical cord and placenta, thereby reducing the baby's nutrient and oxygen supply.
• Women who smoke during pregnancy normally give birth preterm, and their baby has a lower birth weight and smaller organs that babies born to non-smokers.

Smoking harms the baby after birth
• The risk of cot death is two to three times higher in babies exposed to passive smoking. Your child's nursery or bedroom must be a smoke-free zone at all times.
• Smoking can cause babies stomach pain and colic.
• Research has shown that babies in smoking homes are more prone to asthmatic bronchitis between the age of 0 and 18 months, and a third of these babies get asthma sooner or later.
• These babies run a higher risk of developing allergy-related illnesses.
• They are more likely to get ear and throat infections under 4 years of age.
• Children exposed to nicotine can be anxious and cry a lot.

Giving up smoking can take a lot of focus and strength. Contact your midwife or maternity clinic. Help is available.
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