If you?re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, use this as motivation to quit smoking once and for all. If you already have children, it?s not too late to quit smoking and improve the quality of life for your entire family!
a) Before and during pregnancy-
Even before pregnancy, smoking can even affect your fertility. Female smokers have a harder time conceiving. Smokers have been shown to have a 3.4 times greater chance than nonsmokers for needing a year or more to become pregnant. More recent studies demonstrate that smoking in women may impair the fertilization and implantation of the zygote, and decrease ovulatory response.
Likewise, male smokers are 50 percent more susceptible to becoming impotent. It is also suspected that tobacco chemicals could change the cervical fluid to become toxic to sperm, which increases the difficulty of conceiving.
If smokers do manage to become pregnant, the worries associated with smoking are far from over. If the mother continues to smoke, tobacco chemicals are passed to the fetus through the blood stream. Smoking during pregnancy is also associated with low birth weight, placenta previa and preterm delivery, premature rupture of membranes, miscarriage, and neonatal death.
b) Newborns and children-
After a successful delivery, the effect of a smoking parent on the baby?s health continues?with the additional danger of father who smokes, as well. Newborns have the same amount of nicotine levels in their bloodstream as their mothers, and suffer withdrawal in the first few days after birth. In its first year of life, a baby with one or both parents who smoke will be more at risk to contract pneumonia and bronchitis. Babies of smokers are also at greater risk of frequent, severe asthma attacks.
Throughout life, if parents continue to smoke, their children will be exposed to secondhand smoke, which is also called passive smoking. Because of their increased breathing rate, children inhale more air and pollutants relative to their body weight than adults.
The effects of secondhand smoking include increased susceptibility to colds, respiratory problems, ear aches, and sicknesses requiring a doctor?s visit. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Children with allergies or asthma can have their symptoms worsen when exposed to secondhand smoke. Finally, children of smokers are also more likely to eventually become regular smokers themselves.
c) The benefits of quitting-
As a concerned parent, you?re considering quitting smoking. But what exactly are the benefits, and how long do they take to appear? The first benefit?blood pressure and pulse returning to normal?happens only 20 minutes after you finish your last cigarette.
In the first three days after quitting, all carbon dioxide and nicotine is eliminated from a smoker?s body. The lungs begin clearing out mucous and smoking-related pollutants. Your sense of taste and smell will improve markedly, and breathing eases as the bronchial tubes relax. In a mere 72 hours, your energy level will also increase.
Within four months after quitting, a smoker?s circulation will improve. Three to nine months later, lung functions increase up to 10%, which means coughing, wheezing, and breathing problems improve greatly. Five years post-quitting, the risk of a heart attack falls to 50% of a smoker?s risk. After 10 years as an ex-smoker, you risk of lung cancer is just half that of a smoker, and heart attack risk is equal to that of a complete nonsmoker.
Overall, these improvements in physical fitness can help you become a better parent. You will have more energy to devote to your children, as well as a decreased risk of heart attacks and cancer. Similarly, your children will become healthier and learn about a fit, active lifestyle that they can maintain for years to come.
No matter how long you?ve been smoking for, quitting when you become a parent can help improve your health and that of your children. It has almost immediate physical benefits as well as long-term mental benefits, such as encouraging your children by example not to smoke. Use parenthood as a reason to quit smoking, and enjoy your increased health and fitness into many years of grandparenthood!