Q&A: What are the effects of smoking during pregnancy?
My wife is two months pregnant and so far everything has gone well in her pregnancy. The only problem is that my wife smokes about a pack of cigarettes per day. I am worried that her smoking will hurt the baby. I just can’t get her to stop smoking. Can you tell me some of the problems that babies have if the mother smokes? I want to tell my wife and try to convince her to stop.
Smoking is quite an addiction—it can be immensely difficult to quit. Many people use cigarettes to “self medicate” for anxiety, and some smokers have other addiction problems like alcoholism that may also pose a risk to the pregnancy. It takes confidence and motivation to quit smoking. Your position is hard, too, since you are not the one addicted to cigarettes, and yet you have just as much interest in having a healthy baby.
Smoking transmits toxins from the mother’s lungs through her blood and into the fetal circulation. Nicotine also causes spasms in blood vessels, which can cut off oxygen and nutrients flowing to the placenta and Baby.
While many pregnancies will go fine, smokers are at increased risk for:
So what’s a dad to do? Quitting smoking requires motivation and support. Even though you are aware of the risks of smoking, you may not want to take on a nagging or parental role with your wife. It takes a certain amount of self confidence to quit smoking, and being berated doesn’t often help get someone to the point where they feel they can try.
Be sure your wife’s doctor or midwife knows she smokes, and let them talk to her about the risks and how to quit. Some moms need medications or nicotine replacement, which may be safer than cigarettes during pregnancy. 1-800-QUITNOW is another resource, and the March of Dimes has a lot of good information. And of course, ask her if there is anything you can do to help her quit, and be there for her if and when she tries. Good luck to you both!