Both the active and passive smokers face complications in pregnancy. Passive smoking is comparatively less harmful than active smoking but nevertheless, it does affect fertility. There may be complications if a woman is planning to conceive, and either she or her partner is a smoker. Extensive smoking in men affects the quality of sperms that contribute to the fertilisation process. So, if you are planning to have a baby, quitting smoking two years prior to conceiving will lead to better chances of mitigating adverse effect on the process of conceiving or on the health of the baby.
Smoking during pregnancy not only affects the unborn foetus but also the baby after birth. Substances like nicotine, carbon monoxide, are carried through the mother’s bloodstream and reach the baby directly. Some of the common effects of smoking during pregnancy are:
- It lowers the oxygen level in the blood for both the mother and the baby.
- It increases the chances of miscarriage and premature birth.
- It increases the risk of heart, lung or respiratory issues in your baby.
- Research suggests that smoking during pregnancy can lead to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- Smoking during pregnancy increases the chances of stillbirth and underweight babies.
- It also affects the mental development of the baby leading to hyperactivity and short attention span.
- Smoking can lead to the premature rupture of amniotic sac resulting in miscarriage or still birth.
- Placental abruption is another life-threatening condition caused by smoking during pregnancy. Placental abruption means the placenta detaches prematurely leading to death of the foetus. The mother also loses a lot of blood in the process and may need a transfusion.
Passive smoking, which also affects pregnant mothers, is the inhalation of combined smoke of exhaled smoke and the smoke of a burning cigarette. The burning end of a cigarette contains more harmful substances. Passive smoking also leads to various disorders and defects in the baby like asthma, allergies, and other lung and ear infections post birth.
Smoking should be avoided by both the partners from the preconception stage itself and it is strongly discouraged during pregnancy. Any person found smoking in the close proximity of a pregnant woman should be asked to stop, at home or in public spaces. Smoking in public spaces is in any case a punishable offence in India.