Effects After Birth & Beyond
If you smoke, vape or chew tobacco after birth, you continue to put you and your children at risk.
If your baby is born prematurely as a result of your tobacco use during pregnancy, they can have a hard time feeding, breathing problems (short and long term), brain damage, developmental delays and even issues with hearing and seeing.
Your new baby and any other children you have are susceptible to secondhand and thirdhand smoke. Smoking or vaping around children can expose them to the same harmful chemicals that the smoker inhales in the air, secondhand. These chemicals then settle onto surfaces, clothing, furniture and other items, exposing children to thirdhand smoke, which is still harmful.
According to the CDC, if a baby’s mother is a current smoker and they are exposed to secondhand smoke, they are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Additionally, this exposure can cause babies to grow up with weaker lungs, which can cause further health problems.
Remain smoke-free, and ensure your family and friends keep their tobacco habits away from your kids. It’s the best way to keep your children safe from harm.
Quitting tobacco is not easy. Nicotine is highly addictive, which makes quitting for good a challenge. When you do quit, it can make all the difference for you and your baby. When you successfully quit, the CDC says:
- Your energy and breath will come more easily.
- Your risk of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other tobacco-related diseases will decrease.
- Your baby is more likely to grow better and less likely to be born too early.
Even after a single day, your baby will have more oxygen.
Following birth, maintaining your quit is essential to reducing risk in yourself and your children. Sometimes that’s easier said than done because, even without a nicotine addiction, the postpartum period is hard! It’s important to remember that you are not alone in your feelings and experiences postpartum.
For many postpartum women, the stress, hormone changes and heightened emotional triggers can be catalysts that lead them right back to smoking, vaping or other tobacco use.
Postpartum, your body experiences a handful of hormone changes, and your body’s hormone regulation can take up to a year. During this time, your estrogen and progesterone levels drastically decrease, which often causes recently postpartum people to experience sadness, mood swings and irritability — according to the National Behavioral Health Network for Tobacco & Cancer Control.
Along with this change, your oxytocin and prolactin hormones increase, which produces breast milk and allows you to form a deeper bond with your baby.
These hormone changes and imbalances can lead to a desire to start using again, developing postpartum depression or many other associated complications.
Stress & Postpartum Depression
Having a child, especially an infant, can be stressful. Sometimes thinking about restarting your old tobacco habit may feel like it will reduce your stress — but that is not the case. If you start using again, withdrawals and other symptoms could drastically increase the stress you are already feeling, making it difficult to deal with everyday struggles.
If you develop postpartum depression symptoms, you are not alone. It is okay to ask for help! See your doctor right away to seek help and treatment. Symptoms include:
- Depressed mood
- Excessive crying
- Severe anxiety
- Feelings of guilt or inadequacy
- Thoughts of causing harm to you or your baby
- Thoughts of suicide or death
- Irritability, anger and mood swings
Emotional & Situational Triggers
If you quit during your pregnancy, returning to your old hobbies, hanging out with friends and other situations could be emotional triggers that may kickstart the desire to start using tobacco again. According to Smokefree Women, these emotional and situational triggers can include:
- Believing that using again could remedy your stress.
- Wanting to revert to who you were prior to your pregnancy.
- Returning to places, activities and friend groups that you frequented prior to pregnancy.
- Having a significant other or friends who use tobacco products.
To ensure you don’t relapse, make sure you have taken stock of what may trigger you and make plans to deal with your triggers! If you’d like a comprehensive guide that includes tips on how to stay quit, consider ordering the Quit Guide from the South Dakota QuitLine. Here you can find ways to deter your desire to relapse and more valuable information to keep you on track.
Quit & Stay Quit
Everybody quits differently. Your quit journey is your own, and only you know what works for you. Find the method that fits into your journey to put out that cigarette, shut off the vape pen or close the tin for the last time. Start your quit journey today, and get back to your life!