Smoking, Labor, & Delivery: It's Complicated

Sunday, November 25, 2012

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You probably have mixed feelings about going into labor. On one hand, bringing a new life into the world is really exciting. On the other, it can be really scary to have a baby, especially if this is your first child. Unfortunately, it can be even scarier if you smoke. Research shows that smoking during pregnancy can lead to serious complications for you and your baby during labor and delivery.

Here are some things that can happen:

  • Go into labor and deliver early
    Smoking during pregnancy increases your chances of going into labor 3 weeks early or more. 

  • Baby is more likely to become stressed during delivery
    Smoking during pregnancy increases the chances of having a small, under-weight baby. Some women think having a smaller baby will make giving birth easier. That’s not true. Labor with a small, under-weight baby actually puts more stress on the baby, which makes giving birth more difficult. Smaller babies are more likely to die or have serious health problems that don’t go away. Some of these health problems can require a lot of extra care and even surgery.

  • Bleeding during pregnancy and delivery
    Smoking during pregnancy doubles your risk of bleeding during pregnancy and delivery. This can put both mom and baby in danger.

  • Baby may not be able to go home with you right away
    Because smoking during pregnancy increases the chances of having a low-birth weight baby or a baby with serious health problems, your baby may have to stay at the hospital until they are healthy enough to go home.

Fortunately, quitting smoking lowers these risks and increases the chances of a safe delivery for you and your baby. Quitting smoking earlier in your pregnancy is best. But, quitting at any time can still benefit both you and your baby.

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