Why should I avoid smoking while pregnant?

Without smoking during pregnancy - this is how it can work


Heavy smokers usually have very great problems reducing or quitting smoking during pregnancy. This is where outside help is important, such as cessation programs for women who smoke, some of which are very well-designed offers with a forum and lots of practical advice, exercises and instructions online.

Heavy smokers usually have very great problems reducing or quitting smoking during pregnancy. An evaluation of over 25 million pregnancies in California recently showed that only one in four smokers completely refrains from smoking during pregnancy (1). The heavy smokers in particular did not manage to reduce the number of cigarettes and continued to smoke unabated until they were born.

“We make the same observation in Germany,” confirms Albring. “Occasional smokers succeed in quitting smoking more often. But the chain smokers remain bound in their dependency, usually continue to smoke as heavily as before and harm both themselves and their baby. ”These women not only have a miscarriage or premature birth almost three times more often than non-smokers. The toxins from cigarette smoke also reach the embryo via the umbilical cord. "In addition, the toxins also disrupt the blood flow to the placenta, which means that too little oxygen comes to the baby," says Albring. As a result, the children develop worse and are born malnourished. And not only smokers themselves are more likely to develop cancer than non-smokers; even in the children of heavy smokers, some forms of cancer are more common. But smokers are also directly at risk during pregnancy. Because during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium, the risk of thrombosis is 20 times higher. And with smokers, this risk doubles again.

Fighting the stress

"Even strokes are more common in pregnant women who smoke heavily than in non-smokers," says the gynecologist. “Most women are actually aware of these risks. But heavy smokers in particular tell us that they need cigarettes to deal with stress and tension, and pregnancy often means additional stress for them. So this is where the pressure of having to keep smoking in order to endure the stress becomes particularly great. The large study from California also shows that most heavy smokers do not make the jump on their own. "

External help is required here, such as cessation programs for smokers, of which there are some very well-developed offers with a forum and many practical advice, exercises and instructions also online (2,3). Likewise, the pregnant woman should be supported at work, by friends and family. All experience shows that the advice “Just smoke five cigarettes less” does not work, especially with heavy smokers. The only promising path is to stop smoking, preferably together with your partner. "He is usually the father of the child and can also help his offspring to be born healthy by stopping smoking", says Albring.

Every time is the right time for both the baby and the mother to reduce or stop smoking, at the beginning, middle or end of pregnancy: “Every single cigarette not smoked is a win. Smoking is not fateful and inevitable. A miscarriage, premature birth, a thrombosis or a stroke is a really terrible burden for any young family. A pregnant woman who smokes should really get the greatest possible support from her surroundings, for example also from her partner and good friends to give up smoking. In this way everyone can contribute to ensuring that mother and child can start their time together well and healthily. "

Avoid open spine

Albring points out that women who smoke are often deficient in folic acid; Folic acid is an important vitamin, especially in the first few weeks of pregnancy, which is responsible for ensuring that the spinal cord and spine develop properly. Folic acid deficiency is the most common cause of an open spine, a very serious damage to the baby, which is mostly dependent on a wheelchair for the rest of its life: "Smokers who want to have children should definitely start to meet their folic acid requirements at an early stage so that the child does not have to go through the first few weeks of life endangered is."

Apartment without cigarette smoke

And, according to Albring, the pregnant woman and later also the baby should have a smoke-free environment at home: “The apartment should be renovated in connection with the smoking cessation, curtains, carpets and upholstered furniture should be washed or cleaned. And if there are smokers in the apartment, then they should only smoke outside, and in any case the rooms in which the pregnant woman and later the baby are staying must remain smoke-free. "

(1) Soneji S, Beltrán-Sánchez H. Association of Maternal Cigarette Smoking and Smoking Cessation With Preterm Birth. JAMA Netw Open. 2019; 2 (4): e192514. doi: 10.1001 / jamanetworkopen.2019.2514 jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2730781
(2) www.rauchfrei-info.de, a program of the Federal Center for Health Education.
(3) www.iris-plattform.de, an online program of the addiction counseling department at the Tübingen University Clinic for pregnant women to give up cigarettes and alcohol.

© BVF 2019

Author (s): äin-red