Every puff of cigarette smoke you inhale contains thousands of toxins, which enter your bloodstream and go straight into your baby’s body. Obviously, all of these have the potential to cause harm, but the two substances your gynae is really worried about are nicotine and carbon monoxide. Why? Because they cut off the amount of oxygen available in your body, which can cause massive damage to your baby’s development.
The new movement towards e-cigarettes and vaping, therefore, begs us to address whether or not this is a safer alternative for expectant moms who just can’t seem to quit smoking, or whether it is just as harmful for your unborn baby’s health.
What is vaping?
It is an electric cigarette that heats up a liquid chamber which creates a vapor that is inhaled by the user. Nicotine and other potentially harmful toxins are contained in this liquid.
So, is it safe for pregnant women?
There’s very little research on the safety of these toxins that are inhaled, and what harm they can cause to your baby. There is no FDA regulation on these products. There are, however, very definitely chemicals present that may be reaching your baby and may indeed cause harm. Nicotine itself is known to constrict blood vessels and so result in growth restriction and low birth weight in babies. Some products claim to contain no nicotine, but small traces can still be found, and this is a risk in pregnancy.
Kicking the habit
Some women believe the use of an e-cigarette will help them quit smoking now they’re expecting. The reality is, you’ll still be taking in nicotine, which is where the addiction lies. While the use of an e-cigarette may satisfy your craving to smoke during pregnancy, and reduce your intake of tar – it’s still potentially harmful to your baby.
Yes or no?
It’s best to rather avoid vaping and e-cigarettes if you’re expecting, and any other tobacco products for that matter. Discuss a plan to quit with your caregiver if you are a heavy user and fall pregnant. It will improve your health and greatly reduce the risks of complications to your unborn child. Even though e-cigarettes may advertise that these products are a safer way of “smoking”, the exact safety in pregnancy has not been clearly established.
While the jury is still out, it is advisable to avoid something that is potentially harmful to both you and your unborn child.
Pippa is a Registered Professional Nurse and trained as a Registered Midwife at Chris Hani Baragwanth Hospital. She has extensive experience in all things baby related with a special interest in preparing couples for the exciting journey of parenthood as well as supporting them in the weeks that follow the birth. She and her husband Richard are the proud parents of Becca age 6 and Tom age 4. Pippa has a comprehensive private clinic service that includes Childbirth Education classes, a Well Baby Clinic including Immunization as well as Post Natal and Lactation support. With over 5 years of running a private clinic facility and raising 2 children Pippa comes with a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience of parenthood.