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How does tobacco affect new moms and babies? An expert answers

Smoking, active or passive, can affect new mothers whether or not they are lactating, said Dr Bakshi. She said nicotine, when it is inside the body, can lead to the constriction of blood vessels.

By: Parenting Desk | New Delhi |
June 1, 2020 6:20:10 pm
tobacco and pregnancy, tobacco and new moms, tobacco and babies, tobacco and breast milk, health, parenting, indian express, indian express news The doctor insists that pregnancy is just the right time for a woman to make some important changes in her life. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

When it comes to tobacco and its uses, there is still a lot of doubt and confusion as to how much is too much. While it is a globally-known fact that tobacco kills, some people still struggle to give it up entirely. This can be greatly damaging not just to their own health, but also the health and well-being of their loved ones.

On World No Tobacco Day, which is celebrated every year on May 31, Express Parenting had Dr Mahima Bakshi, Woman and Child Wellness expert, on board for a quick live session, wherein she answered questions mainly on the impact of smoking on lactating mothers and their babies. Find out what she said.

ALSO READ | How second-hand smoke can affect children

“There are many lifestyle related issues these days that are coming up — things like hypertension, diabetes and thyroid issues. Especially in the lockdown phase where a lot of people are unable to step out of the house, go to gyms, or for regular walks; the active lifestyle that needs to be maintained by pregnant moms or new moms, is becoming difficult. That is why it becomes more important for a pregnant mom and a new mom to ensure that she does everything else right,” she said.

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Dr Bakshi further said that while a lot of people may be aware of their unhealthy lifestyle habits, they are not able to bring about a change. But she insists that pregnancy is just the right time for a woman to make some important changes in her life. “When a pregnant woman is exposed to smoke in the form of active smoking or passive smoking, it can affect her baby in the womb, in the form of intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR). It can also lead to a low-birth weight baby, and a higher chance of pre-term labour. And these babies can be more prone to developing respiratory illnesses,” she explained, adding women must not be exposed to any kind of smoke during pregnancy.

But what about new mothers?

Smoking — active or passive — can affect new mothers as well, whether or not they are lactating, said Dr Bakshi. She said nicotine, when it is inside the body, can lead to the constriction of blood vessels. “For a lactating mom, who needs a lot of hormones in her body to produce milk, due to the constriction, the levels may go down. This can have a huge impact on the production of milk. But besides that, the nicotine can also pass on through the breast milk to the baby,” she said.

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How does it impact the baby?

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The doctor said it impacts the baby in the following ways:
* The baby does not feel content after a breast-feeding session.
* Is likely to be cranky and fussy.
* There are some other behavioural changes as well.
* The baby’s sleep gets affected.

Besides cigarettes, she warns that new moms and pregnant women stay away from e-cigarettes, sheesha and also passive smoking.

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First published on: 01-06-2020 at 06:20:10 pm

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