Quit Smoking Before You Conceive

August 16, 2010

So, you're thinking about having a baby and have made a few decisions concerning your pregnancy. Of course, you know that smoking and drinking are not good things to do when you're pregnant, so you've decided you'll quit both as soon as you have that positive test in your hot little hand.

Smoking Slows Conception

It's a well known fact that smoking during pregnancy is a big risk factor in the health and development of a growing baby. What isn't so well known is that women who stop smoking before they try to conceive actually have a better chance of conceiving than those who continue to smoke. Studies have shown that women who smoke can take up to three times longer to conceive than women who don't smoke. More advanced studies show that when nicotine breaks down, harmful substances that are produced lead to a faster depletion of reserve cells in the ovaries resulting in early menopause - up to four years earlier for smokers than non-smokers.

Negative Effects of Smoking On Baby

Add to this list of "why you shouldn't smoke before you try to conceive" is the increased risk of miscarriage, genetic abnormalities and even the chance for a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy. Heavy smokers are at four times higher risk for any of these problems. When you consider just how dangerous smoking is to conception, pregnancy, the unborn baby, and you - you might ask yourself why you're even smoking at all.

What About Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy?

The second big decision is about drinking during pregnancy. Here again, there is sufficient evidence of the harm that can happen to a baby before birth when the mother is drinking. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause all kinds of mental and physical birth defects. The term used today to describe the multitude of negative effects of alcohol on an unborn baby is "fetal alcohol spectrum disorders" or FASDs.

Many women realize that heavy drinking is dangerous, but what most don't know is that even moderate or light drinking can cause problems for your baby. The safest bet, of course, is to totally abstain while you are trying to conceive and throughout your pregnancy as well. Since it sometimes takes a month or two for some women to realize they are pregnant, the baby can be subjected to the negative effects of alcohol without the mother even being aware of it. That's why it just makes good sense to stop drinking well in advance of pregnancy.

What Happens to Your Baby When You Drink During Pregnancy?

When you drink while you are pregnant, your baby is drinking right along with you because the alcohol passes right through the placenta to your baby. Since the baby's body is so tiny and not fully developed, the alcohol takes longer to break down, meaning it is in the baby's system a lot longer than it is in yours. As a result, the alcohol level in the baby's body is much higher ultimately causing your baby lifelong damage. Mental retardation, learning, emotional and behavioral problems, and defects involving the heart, face, and other organs go along with the negative, lifetime effects on your unborn baby of drinking while pregnant.

It's good that you've decided to become pregnant. It's even better that you quit smoking and drinking long before you conceive so your baby will have a good start to life.

 

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