No-one can say that smoking in pregnancy is a good idea. There is nothing healthy or risk-free about smoking in general, and certainly not when a woman is pregnant.
But the reality is that women smoke when pregnant - all the time. Some try to quit and are successful. Others believe that the stress of quitting is worse for the baby than the 9 months of smoking - a notion that is completely untrue.
Most pregnant women who smoke know deep down that it's not right. But the good news is that even if they can't or won't quit straight away, studies show that they have the first 15 weeks of pregnancy to quit before some real damage is done.
A recent study, published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) recently found that the risks of premature birth and low birth weight were of those who never smoked at all, if the mother quit before the 15 week mark. This is wonderful news to pregnant women who are desperately trying to quit.
In researching two and half thousand pregnant women, scientists monitored the births of those who never smoked, those who quit by 15 weeks and those who didn't quit at all. The women who smoked throughout their pregnancies did have more premature and low weight babies than the others. But the women who quit by week 15 had similar birth statistics to those women who never smoked at all.
The studies also showed that the women who quit during pregnancy were no more stressed than the women who didn't quit at all.
Good news for pregnant women (and their babies!) and shows that it is well worth it to quit during pregnancy. The sooner the better, obviously, and it's far better to not smoke at all. But this study would suggest that women may have those first 15 weeks to quit - a long window of time that can do them - and their unborn babies - the world of good.
Did you smoke in pregnancy, or quit during? What is your advice for other women?
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