World No Tobacco Day: It’s never too late to quit smoking during pregnancy
This World No Tobacco Day, we dispel some myths about smoking during pregnancy.Updated: Jun 03, 2017 12:09 IST
The myths and confusions around smoking during pregnancy are several: smoking in moderation is okay or you can go back to it once the baby is born or it’s better to give up breastfeeding entirely than feed the baby if you smoke. This World No Tobacco Day, we are going to bust these myths.
Dr Vidya Gupta, senior consultant, neonatology at Apollo Hospitals, says that many women think that they should quit smoking as soon as they find out they are pregnant. However, the right time to quit is actually when you are trying to conceive. “If it is a planned pregnancy, it’s best to give up smoking before conception itself. If you do that, your pregnancy will be just as healthy as a woman who never smoked in the first place,” she says.
Another common confusion that troubles pregnant women is they think it is already too late for them to give up smoking as maybe two or three months into the pregnancy, the harm is already done. This is not true. It is never too late to give up smoking. The carbon monoxide and nicotine that your body gets exposed to harms the baby much more as its body and brain is still developing. The harmful elements cross over to the foetus and can result in miscarriages, premature births, still births, birth defects, Sudden Infant Death syndrome and a host of other dangerous conditions.
When you quit smoking, your baby breathes better and is able to grow without any toxins. This also applies to smoking after your baby is born. Passive smoking is just as awful for the baby’s health.
According to Dr Anita Sharma a Lamaze childbirth educator, mothers who smoke are known to have lower milk production. Levels of prolactin hormone, responsible for synthesis of milk, are also low in these mothers.
Smoking also interferes with the letdown reflex responsible for release of milk. Therefore mothers who smoke are known to wean off babies earlier.
But what if you tried your best but are still unable to quit smoking? Should you breastfeed your baby anyway? According to Dr Gupta, you should seek behavioural therapy or professional help to completely stop smoking as it is very important for the child’s health. However, if you still cannot kick the habit, you should minimise the number of times you smoke and increase the time between a smoke break and the feed. And no matter what, never smoke while feeding the baby or anywhere near him/her.
What about daddies? Should they be asked to quit as well? “Most definitely,” says Dr Gupta. “No one should smoke around the baby. Its developing body needs to stay away from harmful toxins,” she adds.
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