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It is common knowledge that smoking is bad for an unborn child, but few know how bad it can really be. And this can be dangerous, as smoking is "the number 1 cause of adverse outcomes for babies".
In fact in 2015 over 11% of all new mothers smoked.
When you smoke, you are not just taking in the nicotine, but the 4000 other chemicals, like lead and cyanide. All of the chemicals enter the bloodstream, and from there straight to the baby.
But it's not just the chemicals either, the carbon monoxide that you breathe in actually replaces the the oxygen the baby needs.
In an adult it can take year for smoking to have a noticeable effect, but for an unborn baby, it is almost instantaneous.
If you smoke during pregnancy your baby is more likely to have:
- Complications during pregnancy and birth
- A higher risk of stillbirth
- A Premature birth, which can lead to a whole host of problems
- A much higher chance of being born underweight, babies born by mother who smoke are on average 200g lighter. This can lead to problem during labour and an increased chance of infection
- A much higher risk of suffering from asthma
- A higher chance of sudden death syndrome, or as it's otherwise known as, cot death
But it's not just the mother who should stop, 2nd hand smoke can hurt the baby as well. Smoking around a pregnant mother can cause some of the above problems as well, including loss of weight and cot death.
Babies whose parents smoke will also more likely develop bronchitis and pneumonia as well during the first year.
The advice that the NHS, the Royal college of Midwives and ASH all give is the same, if you are pregnant stop smoking immediately.
However if you can't, E-Cigarettes are a better alternative.
E-Cigarettes During Pregnancy
Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things many of us will do. It is not only the nicotine that is addictive, but the chemicals and even the sugar.
And there is a psychological element as well. Smokers for years associate puffing on something with a relaxing effect and that can be a habit which is hard to break. Especially with the stress of pregnancy.
That's why if you truly cannot quit that e-cigarettes can help, it gives you the nicotine that your body craves but without the 4000 chemicals and the carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide especially is terrible for the baby, and just taking that away can help a great deal (according to the NHS).
E-cigarettes can also help with the psychological effect as well. As they are shaped in a cigarette shape and you breathe in vapour it feels more like a cigarette.
Second hand smoke is also not possible with e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes don't even produce smoke, but the vapour has been shown to have no adverse effect on people around it.
And nicotine itself is "relatively harmless" (according to the Royal Collage of Midwives) to the baby, though again no nicotine would still be better.
Sadly there hasn't been much study on the effects of just e-cigarettes to help mothers, as e-cigarettes are still new. However we can at least draw some conclusions from the studies done with NRT (nicotine replacement therapy). NRT includes patches, gum and inhalators, all of which contain nicotine.
Dr Sue Cooper from the University of Nottingham studied the effect of NRT on mothers and unborn children in 2014. She found that with NRT substantially improved the chances for babies to be born healthy.
Finally e-cigarettes can help where a lot of the NRT's can't.
As Cancer Research says, people who use NRT without professional help have the same chance of quitting as just going cold turkey. And if you compare NRT to E-cigarettes, you have a 60% better chance of stopping smoking with e-cigarettes then with NRT alone.
Should You Use E-Cigarettes While Pregnant? Conclusion
As we have said throughout this whole article, it will always be better for you to quit smoking entirely. That is without question.
But if you can't do it, then e-cigarettes might be the solution for you. It feels more like a cigarette, and gets you the nicotine you need without the carbon monoxide or the chemicals.
E-cigarettes also don't produce and 2nd hand smoke, so if you aren’t the mother you can still help by switching to e-cigarettes.
As long as you avoid the Aniseed flavours like our absinthe flavour (as liquorice root is bad for the baby) e-cigarettes are a marked improvement over smoking.
So if you can't seem to quit and you or someone you know is expecting, why not try one of our e-cigarette starter kits?
*2022 Update - Now you can get a FREE starter kit* when you buy a box of SMOKO E-Cigarette refills! *(Cigalike starter kit, one per customer)