When you’re battling infertility, it feels like everything is out of your control. And while it’s true that you’re at the mercy of several things that are out of your sphere of influence, it’s also true that there are lots of pieces of the puzzle that you do have control over. Smoking can not only have profound effects on your fertility, but also on the viability of your baby once you become pregnant as well as the long-term health of your baby.
Here are five reasons to quit smoking if you’re trying to get pregnant.
1. It’s easier to quit before you get pregnant.
Let’s be honest – quitting smoking isn’t easy, and there’s never a perfect time. You may feel too stressed, the cravings may be too strong, or quite frankly you just don’t have the time to deal with it. But once you get pregnant you’ll be battling pregnancy hormones and cravings, and after the baby arrives it’s hard to put more on your plate while you’re sleep deprived. And while medications to assist in smoking cessation may be used by many women during pregnancy, it’s best to reduce the number of foreign chemicals your baby is exposed to in utero. So quit before you’re pregnant, and ask your doctor if you need help doing so.
2. Smoking affects your fertility.
Approximately 13% of female infertility can be attributed to smoking cigarettes. More specifically, smoking interferes with ovulation, causes damage to your reproductive organs, can contribute to premature menopause, and decreases the quality of your eggs (source). Smoking also affects male fertility in the areas of sperm count and mobility. So if both you and your partner smoke, team up and quit together. It may be one of the best things you do for your journey to parenthood.
3. Smoking increases your risk of miscarriage.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women who smoke are more likely to suffer a miscarriage (source) or have an ectopic pregnancy (source). It can also damage the placenta – your baby’s literal lifeline – which can result in placental abruption or bleeding. Smoking is also linked to pre-term labor, which can be very dangerous (or even fatal) for your baby.
4. Smoking while pregnant can have long-term health effects on your baby.
Even after your baby is born and no longer exposed to nicotine, the effects can still linger. Babies born to smokers typically have a lower birth weight which is linked to longer hospital stays, increased illness, decreased lung and organ function, and a greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Smoking while pregnant also increases the chance that your baby will be born with a birth defect such cleft lip or palate, which impacts your baby’s ability to eat, can make breastfeeding impossible, and requires several surgeries throughout their first few years to rectify.
5. Nicotine-addicted babies are harder to soothe.
Everyone knows that newborns are a lot of work, but studies suggest that babies born addicted to nicotine, the active ingredient in cigarettes, require even more care and soothing than the typical baby (source). While quitting smoking doesn’t guarantee you’ll have an “easy” baby, it certainly decreases your risk of having a difficult one.
Nobody is suggesting that quitting smoking is easy, but when you look at the risks to your baby it’s clear that it’s worth it. Smoking not only affects your baby once they’re born, but increases health risks during pregnancy and even reduces your chance of getting pregnant in the first place. Even though you aren’t even pregnant yet, one of the best things you can do for your baby is to quit. And if you can’t do it on your own, talk with your doctor. There are lots of different ways to quit smoking – you’ve just got to find one that works for you.
About the Author
Jenny Silverstone is the mom of two and the brains behind MomLovesBest.com, a blog which helps women get through their pregnancies and provides parenting advice to new mothers