You probably know the nasty dangers of smoking that’s why you don’t smoke—especially since you have a precious one to protect in your tummy. You may be able to control yourself, but you cannot change everyone around you. Cigarette smoke is still present in many places you may be exposed to—in restaurants, parks and other places and worse, it may even be your friends and family who expose you to secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke is tobacco smoke that comes from the environment. Just because you don’t put a lit cigarette stick in your mouth doesn’t mean that you are safe from the clutches of toxic tobacco fumes. Secondhand smoke can be the smoke that is exhaled by smokers (called mainstream smoke) and it can also be the smoke that comes from a lit tobacco product (called side steam smoke). Either type of secondhand smoke is dangerous to those exposed to it because it still contains thousands of chemical components that are not good for the human health including carbon monoxide, benzene, cyanide, chromium, formaldehyde, nickel, lead and polonium.
What’s worse is that just because you don’t see smoke it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. The chemicals in a cigarette smoke can linger in an environment for hours—in the furniture, in the walls, in the hair clothes and skin of a smoker, and in the upholstery of a car. This type of smoke is sometimes referred to as third-hand smoke, and it can affect people especially children.
Women who are pregnant are advised to especially avoid cigarette smoke. Inhalation of secondhand smoke can contribute to a number of factors that can affect the baby including having a low birth weight, an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and infections that particularly affect the middle ear and respiratory tract. It can also affect the health of the mother and what happens to the mother also directly affects the fetus.
In order to avoid inhaling secondhand smoke, pregnant women can take note of the following tips:
- Always sit in the non-smoking section of any establishment or choose an establishment that does not allow smoking at all
- When eating out or spending time with friends and family, politely ask smokers not to smoke in your presence. They will understand
- Do not allow smoking at home. If your partner or anybody in your home is a smoker, encourage them to quit
- Do not allow smoking in the vehicle at any time
- In the workplace, you can request to be moved to a workstation or desk which will allow you to be closer to non-smokers than smokers
Steering clear of secondhand smoke should be continued long after you have given birth. It does not only pose risks for your unborn child, it also poses risk to you as well.