The unhealthy habits of drinking alcohol & smoking while pregnant can have serious complications. A pregnant woman should not smoke because smoking adversely affects the baby’s growth, and smaller babies have more problems in the early months of life. The chemicals inhaled from cigarette smoke are absorbed into the bloodstream and pass through the placenta into the baby’s bloodstream, so that when the mother has a smoke, so does the baby.
Alcohol should be avoided especially during the first three months of pregnancy when the vital organs of the foetus are developing. Later in pregnancy it is advisable to have no more than one drink every day with a meal.
There is no doubt that the babies of mothers who smoke are smaller (by 200 g on average) than those of nonsmoking mothers. There is also an increased rate of premature labour (delivering the baby too early), miscarriage and stillbirth in these women. After birth, babies of smoking mothers continue to suffer both directly and indirectly from their mother’s smoking. The smoking by the mother appears to reduce their resistance to disease, in particular to infection, so that babies born to smoking mothers die in infancy more often than average. By inhaling the smoke from either of their parents, these infants have more colds, bronchitis and other respiratory problems than babies in non-smoking homes.
Any woman who smokes should ideally cease before she falls pregnant, but certainly should do so when the pregnancy is diagnosed. This is far easier said than done, but if her partner stops at the same time, support and encouragement is given by family and friends, and assistance is obtained from the family doctor, women who are motivated to give their baby the best possible chance in life will succeed in kicking this very addictive habit.