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Is it illegal to smoke while pregnant?

showing a pregnant lady being kissed

Smoking is a common habit among people around the world. Each year, the global smoking population grows. While laws are becoming more strict in the production, consumption, and distribution of tobacco products, is it illegal to smoke while pregnant? 

In this article, we’ll answer that question and provide other useful information related to the effects of smoking while pregnant. We also provide tips for those who want to quit smoking. 

The Quick Answer to Smoking While You Are Pregnant

No, it’s not illegal to smoke while pregnant, but it’s highly discouraged. Smoking harms not only the health of the mother but also the unborn baby. No specific laws around the world apply to smoking while pregnant. 

In the UK, the Children and Families Bill has been amended to ban smoking inside a vehicle with children. The bill is said to prioritize protecting children by preventing exposure to secondhand smoke, which can cause a wide range of health issues for children. However, the amendment didn’t ban smoking from vehicles with pregnant women. 

The Dangers of Smoking While Pregnant

According to the CDC, women who smoke have more difficulty becoming pregnant. They also have higher risks of not getting pregnant at all. Moreover, smoking during pregnancy can cause tissue damage to the unborn baby, specifically in the lungs and brain. 

Studies also show that miscarriages can happen because of smoking. Stillbirth might also happen. 

  • Miscarriage: is when a baby dies in the womb before reaching 20 weeks old. 
  • Stillbirth: is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The carbon monoxide in tobacco can prevent oxygen flow to the baby. This can cause heart problems since the baby’s heart needs to work harder to deliver oxygen to its entire body. It also contains other harmful chemicals that can cause harm to the baby. 

Common birth defects associated with smoking during pregnancy include cleft lip or cleft palate. Birth defects are present at birth, and they affect the shape and function of one or more parts of your baby’s body. They also cause problems in your child’s overall health. 

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) can also happen. This is when a baby younger than one year dies suddenly without any obvious cause. SIDS often happens while the baby is asleep; it’s also known as crib death since the baby often dies in the crib. 

Meanwhile, smoking when breastfeeding leads to the following: 

  • Lower supply of breast milk 
  • Baby is exposed to nicotine through your breast milk
  • Baby is burnt with hot ash
  • The baby’s development is impaired. 

Secondhand Smoking

Secondhand smoking is even more harmful than smoking itself. The smoke that burns off the end of the cigarette or cigar contains more harmful substances, such as tar, carbon monoxide, nicotine, and others. 

Regular exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of stillbirth. Toxins from secondhand smoke can harm the placenta and increase the risk of serious problems, such as placental abruption. Other effects include impaired growth and development.

Babies and children exposed to secondhand smoke are also at risk of asthma, allergies, and infections of the ears and lungs. To prevent secondhand smoke exposure, consider doing the following: 

  • Don’t let anyone smoke at home
  • Don’t let anyone smoke in your car
  • Keep away from places where people smoke 

Thirdhand  Smoke 

Thirdhand smoke is the “scent” you smell on clothes, furniture, walls, skin, and hair left behind when somebody smokes. As a result, opening a window or going into another room when somebody smokes isn’t enough to protect you or your baby from the side effects of another person’s smoke. 

Moreover, thirdhand smoke contains over 250 chemicals that harm pregnant women, babies, and children. Babies and children can be exposed to thirdhand smoke chemicals when they smell or put in their mouths the things that have been exposed to smoke. 

E-Cigarettes and Vapes During Pregnancy

It’s also not illegal to use vapes and other e-cigarettes when pregnant. However, they carry some of the same risks that smoking has. 

Just like regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain chemicals, including nicotine. These chemicals can harm your baby. Though more research is needed to understand how e-cigarette vapor may be harmful to your baby’s development, the nicotine content is enough for health experts to warn against e-cigarettes. 

How to Quit Smoking During and After Pregnancy

Quitting smoking offers a ton of health benefits for you and your baby. While you may try to quit smoking while pregnant, the best time to quit is before pregnancy. 

On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Nonsmokers have lower risks of cancer, heart conditions, and other diseases. Moreover, quitting smoking lets you enjoy the following benefits: 

  • Cleaner teeth
  • Fresher breath 
  • Better sense of taste 
  • Fewer skin wrinkles
  • Fewer finger stains 
  • Better vision
  • More energy 
  • Stronger muscles and bones 

To help you quit smoking, smoking cessation programs are a big help. Seek help from your healthcare provider to know more about such groups. You may also follow these tips: 

  • Keep your matches, lighters, and ashtray somewhere you can’t easily see
  • Make your home a non-smoking area 
  • Ask smoker friends or family members to not smoke around you
  • Drink fewer caffeinated beverages since caffeine may stimulate your urge to smoke
  • Avoid alcohol since it may also increase your urge to smoke, not to mention it can harmful to your baby 
  • Change habits related to smoking
  • Try other activities to replace smoking 
  • Keep mints or gums on hand for when you feel the urge to smoke 
  • Stay active to keep your mind off smoking 
  • Exercise; this relieves the tension from resisting the urge to smoke 
  • Take a walk, read a book, or try a new hobby 
  • Look for support from your friends and family 
  • Don’t go to places where many people are smoking, such as smoking areas, bars, and clubs 

While they sound like a good idea, nicotine gums and patches aren’t good alternatives to smoking. They also contain nicotine, which enters your bloodstream. These products can reduce your withdrawal symptoms and decrease your urge, but their safety isn’t adequately proven for pregnant women. 

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