Category Archives: Pregnancy

Smoking and Pregnancy is a Deadly Mix

Most people know that smoking cigarettes while pregnant is a bad idea, but many are unaware of just how damaging it can be. There are more than 2,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke and none of them are good. When it comes to causing complications during pregnancy, carbon monoxide and nicotine are the two primary culprits, and have been known to cause low birth weight, premature birth, and even stillbirths. In the following paragraphs I’ll discuss some of the negative effects cigarette smoking can have on the fetus and mother.

There have been many documented cases of stillbirths and spontaneous abortions due to smoking. Secondhand smoke can also be a culprit here, so women shouldn’t assume that it’s okay to be around others smoking if she doesn’t light up herself.

Hampers Fetal Development

Prenatal tobacco smoke exposure has been shown to reduce birth weight. It slows down the growth and development of the fetus and interferes with lung development. Exposure also greatly increases the likelihood of the fetus to pass meconium while still in the womb, which can be life threatening.

Birth Defects

Smoking during pregnancy can result in several birth defects including:

  • Neural tube defects
  • Heart defects
  • Underdeveloped head and brain
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Shortened limbs
  • Club foot

Impaired Behavioral Development

The damage done from smoking while pregnant continues to effect the fetus years later. Children exposed to tobacco smoke in the womb are much more likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and demonstrate antisocial behavior. They are also more likely to have difficulty learning. These children are also more likely to start smoking during middle childhood.

Breastfeeding Complications

Smoking while pregnant causes certain hormonal imbalances that often prohibit proper secretion of breast milk. This leads to a premature disruption of breastfeeding, causing potential complications for the mother and the infant. If the mother continues to smoke while breastfeeding the infant, nicotine will be passed to the child through the breast milk. This causes feeding problems, colic, excessive crying and sleep issues for the child.

The Heart

Pregnant women who smoke heavily throughout their first trimester put their baby at a significantly elevated risk of developing heart complications. For this reason, women are advised to immediately quit smoking once they find out they’re pregnant. If quitting on your own is too difficult, consult with your doctor to get the assistance you need to kick the habit.

The Brain

Smoking while pregnant may have long term negative effects on the fetus’ brain development. Learning disabilities, behavior problems and low IQ are not uncommon in these instances. Even smoking for only art of your pregnancy can have a profound negative effect on your child. There are many important developmental changes going on with a fetus each week, so optimal health for the entire term is necessary for proper development.

Awareness is the Key

It is important for expecting mothers as well as those women who may become pregnant to be aware of the risks of smoking while pregnant. The resulting issues can be very serious, and could impact your child throughout his or her life.

The Three Trimesters of Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the word used to refer to the gestation period in human beings. Unlike in the past whereby a woman could only get pregnant through sexual intercourse, today technology has ways of making a woman pregnant away from sex. A full term pregnancy goes for 40 weeks and is divided into 3 equal trimesters 3 months each. Conception occurs when a sperm fertilizes an egg in the fallopian tube making it a zygote which moves to the uterus and grows into a fetus. The pregnancy term is calculated from the 1st day of a woman’s last period.

This is the most moody period in a woman’s life. Not only first time mothers are not unsure of what to expect during this period but even those who have been pregnant before. Let’s look at what to generally expect in different stages of pregnancy.

First trimester

This is the stage with the highest risks of miscarriage. Here are some of the changes in this stage;

Bleeding/spotting

This is common and shouldn’t raise any alarm unless it’s accompanied by cramping or lower abdominal pains.

Constipation

As a result of a lot of progesterone production and increased iron intake, digestion will certainly be interfered with hence making you uncomfortable. You can reduce this problem by taking lots of fluids and fiber too.

Discharge

Your discharge will change to a thin milky discharge. You can put on panty liners if necessary but no tampons so as not to risk infections during this sensitive period. If you notice yellow, green, clear or a smelly discharge, kindly seek medical advice.

Breast tenderness

As your hormones are changing in preparation for milk production for your little one, expect a feel of sore, tender breasts. You can make yourself more comfortable by putting on bigger bras.

Fatigue

Your body is busy trying to adjust to the changes taking place in your body and more so in ensuring that your fetus is comfortable. As a result you are likely to feel very tired all the time even in the morning. Take naps during the day when you get a chance to reduce fatigue. Also take lots of iron to avoid the risks of getting anemia, a condition that may make you extremely tired.

By the end of the first trimester, your baby is an already developed lemon size human being.

Second trimester

It’s at this stage that the morning sickness and fatigue gives you a break. This a period full of energy. Besides, you will soon feel those moving kicks from your little one. You can call this stage the honeymoon of pregnancy. The changes you expect in this stage include;

Breast enlargement

Your breasts may not be as tender as they were in the first trimester but they must have grown bigger now. Wear bras that you feel most comfortable in.

Back ache

Your back has no option but to support the weight you are carrying hence making it itchy and sore. Avoid carrying heavy luggage, be in flat shoes, sleep on your side and when you sit, be sure to be on seat that gives your back good support.

Bleeding gums

With more blood in your gums as a result of hormonal changes, those gums must be feeling pretty sensitive now. Use soft toothbrushes and be gentle when you brush. This should not get you worried because as soon as your baby comes things will get back to normal.

As you grow bigger and bigger every day you may at times feel breathless and feel the urge to be in maternity wear. Your baby now has a gender.

Third trimester

There is nothing much with this stage because your baby is fully grown now. Actually even if he was to be prematurely born anywhere during this trimester, chances of his survival are so high now. You feel like you can’t expand any more. You are so anxious now that you feel like the baby is taking forever to come but just relax and don’t rush for inductions unless your doctor recommends.

Take every moment of this time as a fun moment because you may not have it again once it’s gone