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Max Bupa Health Insurance Company Limited,
B-1/I-2, Mohan Cooperative Industrial Estate
Mathura Road, New Delhi-110044
Fax: 1800-3070-3333 Download
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1860-500-8888 | 011-46096100
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Smoking and Pregnancy
Bupa’s Health Information Team
We are all aware of the ill effects of smoking: it not only damages health, looks and the wallet, it can seriously affect a woman’s ability to conceive a child and can be harmful during pregnancy, for both the woman and the baby. Smoking can affect fertility and damage sperm too. Smoking increases your risk of a number of health problems, but it can also reduce your chances of getting pregnant. The good news is that if you stop smoking well on time, your fertility should improve and you will be as likely to conceive as someone who doesn’t smoke.Smoking could cause complications during your pregnancy and labour like: • Ectopic pregnancy – this is when the fertilised egg implants and grows outside the womb, usually in a fallopian tube; fewer than five cigarettes a day increases the risk by 60 percent.• Miscarriage – this is when the foetus dies inside the womb. • Pre-eclampsia – this causes high blood pressure and can lead to growth problems for the baby or premature birth.• Placental abruption – this is when the placenta comes away from the wall of the womb: which can sometimes cause the baby to die before or soon after birth.• Placenta praevia – this is when the placenta blocks the cervix (neck of the womb), and can cause bleeding or premature birth.• Premature labour – this is when you go into labour before 37 weeks of pregnancy.Research shows that smoking is also responsible for the deaths of one third of all babies who die after 24 weeks of pregnancy and before they are four weeks old. Besides slowing growth and affecting the baby’s brain development, the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke prevents the oxygen from getting to the developing baby. For many women, trying to have a baby or actually getting pregnant is great motivation for stopping smoking and improving their general health. It has been proved that babies whose mothers smoke are twice as likely to be born premature and have a low birth weight. This means that babies born to women who smoke are, on average, 200 to 250g lighter than those of non-smokers. Smokers’ babies are also more likely to have a birth defect like a cleft lip or palate or a problem with the limbs, urinary system or genitals.Smoking can also affect the development of your baby’s lungs, making them less effective. This can continue to affect the child as he or she gets older and can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A smoker’s baby is also more likely to have colic – which causes the baby to cry for several hours a day, seemingly for no reason.Smoking affects the hormone prolactin which is needed to produce breast milk. Therefore, any milk produced is usually of poorer quality and often doesn’t have enough of the fats that the baby needs. It has also been researched that a smoker is more likely to stop breastfeeding earlier than a non-smoker. If you carry on smoking after your baby is born, you may be creating further health problems for him or her later in life, including asthma, respiratory infections such as pneumonia, ear infections or childhood cancer.