What’s Really Happening To Your Baby? Secondhand Smoke While Pregnant

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Hey, congratulations!!

That pregnancy test just came back positive, and it looks like you’re going to be a mommy – you’re probably 90-percent scared and 10-percent excited.  ( Or, is it the other way around?  Eh, who cares…  You’re going to be a mommy!!! )

From the moment that second red line showed up on the plastic stick, I’m sure you knew immediately that you’re going to have to make a few lifestyle changes.  Being a mom doesn’t just begin when that little one’s birthday arrives, the adventure begins roughly nine months beforehand.

Of course you want to nurture your new love into a healthy kid, so you’re probably already thinking about what you should and shouldn’t eat or drink, how you might want to relax more often… and yes, lots and lots of time leisurely floating in the pool.  But, while these are important, there is one VERY pressing change you need to make right now…


Your Baby’s Enemy #1: Cigarette Smoke

This also goes without saying, it’s time to kick that cigarette habit immediately… as in, you quit within 10 seconds of realizing you were preggers.  But, did you know that secondhand smoke is just as (if not more) harmful to that new soul you’re carrying?

After a 5-minute browse of Google, it doesn’t take long to read of the horror stories about what cigarette smoke can do to a pregnancy.  It is widely known that cigarette smoke can cause long-term developmental problems, intellectual disabilities, premature births… and even worse… miscarriages.


How Cigarette Smoke WILL Harm Your Baby

Even though your little one might be snuggling safely inside your baby-bump-to-come, protected by your love and lioness maternal instincts – you should also think about the kinds of dangers that are harder to see (but easy to smell).  In the presence of cigarette smoke, your precious new child will suffer from…

  • Decreased oxygen levels, which will hinder healthy brain development
  • Labored breathing, which can result in reduced lung capacity
  • Increased heart rate, leading to uncomfortable palpitations
  • Increased probability of unfortunate and heartbreaking birth defects
  • Decreased birth weight, due to a general lack of healthy nutrients.

 And the horrors don’t even stop there.

Your baby could even end up with nicotine buildup in the lungs, which could result in asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems.  In addition, your baby could even go through nicotine withdrawal… yes, a nicotine withdrawal, before the child even has baby teeth!

And that’s only during pregnancy.  For pregnant smokers, and secondhand smoke breathers, this is only the beginning.

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After the Trip Home From the Hospital

Here comes another list of physical and mental problems that could happen to your baby in those first, crucial months the little one is experiencing this new world of ours… are you ready?  (We know, you want to skip over these bullets because they are, well, depressing, but don’t.) They must now deal with massively increased chances of:

  • Frequent colds
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Possible ADHD
  • Cognitive and comprehension difficulties
  • Problems with verbal and language skills
  • Problems with math and logic

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is one life and death ramification that would keep any new mommy from sleeping (not to mention the baby cries resounding from the crib in the other room).


Why Is It So Dangerous?

Actually, there are numerous factors that make cigarette smoke so dangerous.  Let’s face it; these are highly lethal chemicals – even for adults.  Expose a developing infant to them, and you’ve created a very dangerous situation for an innocent, vulnerable baby.

Cigarette smoke is riddled with cancer and illness-causing toxins, such as…

  • Nicotine
  • Tar (Yum)
  • Lead (Yeah, it’s not just found in old paint chips)
  • Arsenic (Wow, now doesn’t THAT just seem healthy)
  • Cyanide (aka: POISON)
  • Benzene (…let’s just inhale ‘benzene’ for a while, and see how long we live.)

By the way, benzene is closely linked to leukemia.  This could explain the sudden onset of ‘unexplained’ leukemia and lung cancer cases showing up in young ones.  The most likely culprit?  Let’s go with air quality… I’d say that would hit the nail on the head.

Bear in mind, I only listed 6 toxic chemicals that contaminate the air – but, I forgot to mention the other 44.  Though, I believe you probably understand my point by now.

You have a set of choices before you.  Your baby does not, and is physically, mentally, and emotionally chained to you. He or she does not have the ability to choose a healthy lifestyle – for these next few years, you will be choosing a lifestyle for your precious little one.  Your baby’s future depends on the choices you make right now.

So, what can you do to protect your new baby?  I’m glad you asked.


Avoiding Secondhand Smoke: Choosing To Breathe Good Air

This is about boundaries, or what I personally like to call, “Healthy Baby Zones”.  Fortunately in public, it’s actually becoming a lot easier to avoid unwanted nicotine-toxic air.  These days, you basically just need to avoid smoker bars and nightclubs, an understanding that seems obvious (but, every once in a while, I give myself a saddened facepalm when I see a baby bump in places like these).

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However, if you have acquaintances, colleagues, friends, and family that smoke, then you’re going to need to set some ground rules.  And these aren’t just polite requests.

No, for the health and wellbeing of your child, you are the queen of this realm – and you are going to enforce your decrees with an iron fist (or they’ll get an iron boot.)

And so, these shall be the new laws of your land:

  1. While riding in a car, no smoker shall light up in your presence.  And still, if the car smells of smoke, you shall keep a window open (whether it’s 30-below or 100 degrees).
  2. There shall be no smoking inside the house.  If this decree is violated, then that person must face the wrath of a very angry pregnant woman.  Mercy shall not be given.
  3. If there be smoking outside, then the smokers must do without the queen’s company.  Only when all cigarettes are thoroughly dowsed, shall the queen bless the fellow members of the court with her glowing appearance.
  4. You will not visit a home or business where there is the filth of smoke on the air.  If so, the queen will exile herself to the porch or patio – which should make the others feel just terrible for willingly subjecting a pregnant lady to the elements.

New mommy, this is about the health of your baby – so make sure everyone in your social circles know the rules.  If they don’t get it, then they don’t get to see you.  It’s plain and simple.  Guilt is your weapon, and a fine one it is!


But You’re Still Struggling With Cigarettes. What Do You Do?

Well, first – I want you to close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath: in through your nose, out through your mouth.  Now, open your eyes.  Do you feel relaxed?


I want you to repeat after me: “I’m NOT perfect, but for my baby, I CAN quit.”

And no, you’re not perfect, which is why it’s not bad to get a little help –and no one should even think about looking at you in a condescending way for that.

However, you DO NOT want to try so-called, ‘nicotine replacement therapy’.  Not only do these methods have a very questionable success rate, but always keep in mind that whatever you take in to your body, you also subject your baby to the same.  What are the most notable effects of smokeless nicotine on your pregnancy?

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Altered hormonal patterns
  • Altered embryonic movements
  • Hinders your baby from receiving nutrients


What You Most Certainly CAN Do

But here are a few methods that I like to call “Smoke Quitting Hacks”. Give these a try:

  1. Suck on peppermints (Which is clinically proven to grow a sweet baby… well, ok maybe not, but I thought that was cute.)
  2. Do self-enrichment and meditation (Also called self-control meditation.)
  3. Take a Tai Chi or Yoga for expecting mommies (Your baby will feel the Zen.)

One of the best methods is hypnotherapy.  I personally believe it to be THE MOST effective method: it’s easy, convenient, and safe.  And unlike ‘nicotine replacement therapy’, it actually works.  Why?

It deals with the main issue with ‘cigarette addiction’: there is no actual addiction.  If anything, the addiction is in the mind, and hypnotherapy deals with the mind and the attitude.  Yeah, these are sweeping claims, but I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true.

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Smoke Free And Healthy Living For Two

As a mommy, you must be so excited to give your little one the chance to live a wonderful life, full of adventure, curiosity, and new experiences!  But that is best done when you give your baby one of the most important advantages at the very start: a healthy body.

Now we want to hear from you. Do you have any of your own ‘Smoke Quitting Hacks’ that are great for expecting mommies??  Feel free to comment below, because this kind of knowledge is just too life-changing to keep to one’s self.

Roxana Saidi

In June 2011, Roxana became the third founding team member of The Kerry Gaynor Method. Kerry’s mission to rid the world of cigarettes was a very personal one as many of her friends and acquaintances had already quit smoking thanks to Kerry. Roxana regards her role at the company not as a position, but instead as a leader in a movement to eradicate death, suffering and illness due to cigarettes.



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