Tobacco and alcohol when you are pregnant
Abstain for the sake of your child, it’s a short period in your life – but for a long-term perspective.
3 min read
It’s probably common knowledge nowadays that you shouldn’t drink alcohol and smoke (or snuff) when you are pregnant. Smoking impairs the fetus’ oxygenation and increases the risk of miscarriage. So here you only have one option: stop smoking! Snuff (snus) can also harm the fetus, and studies show that the risk of miscarriage increases by 60% in women who use snus/snuff.
Even when it comes to alcohol, we have zero tolerance in Sweden. The recommendation is to not drink alcohol if you want to get pregnant or have just discovered that you are pregnant. Then refrain from drinking alcohol for the rest of the pregnancy. The less alcohol the fetus is exposed to, the better. According to experts, the fetus is exposed to harmful substances if the pregnant woman drinks alcohol. Nobody can give an answer to how much the fetus can manage without any permanent damage. Thus, it’s recommended to abstain from alcohol completely during the pregnancy.
Tobacco increases the risks for the fetus and the baby in a number of areas, for example, miscarriage, abnormalities, deformations, premature birth, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS aka cot death or crib death), ADHD, and allergies. When the mother smokes, she inhales the gas carbon monoxide which blocks the red blood cells from absorbing oxygen. The more you smoke the greater the oxygen deficiency. The fetus absorbs twice as much carbon monoxide as the mother and the deadly gas stays longer in the fetus. Nicotine and hundreds of other harmful substances in tobacco smoke are transferred directly to the unprotected and undeveloped fetus.
In Sweden, we have come a long way in our awareness regarding the risks of tobacco and alcohol. MVC has more or less stopped with the fear-mongering and pointers; constantly reminding women of all the risks could stress some and instead push them to become defensive instead. It can be difficult for some to overcome smoking dependence; most people know they should quit smoking but it can be difficult anyway. Nowadays the midwives work according to a more effective model with motivating talks. They look at the woman’s situation and support her instead of stigmatizing her. Most municipalities have specialized “quit smoking therapists” who can give extra support to pregnant women who would like help and support.
Abstain from tobacco and alcohol during the entire pregnancy – for your baby’s sake. If it feels like a problem, remember that this is only for a short period of your own life, but you are laying the foundation for your child’s future, and hopefully long life.
Swedish Healthcare Guide 1177
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