Your body may not always be a temple, and all of us have our little indulgences, whether it's a fondness for cupcakes or a nightly glass of red wine. But when a woman plans for a baby, it's time to start thinking about someone else's health besides hers, because what happens to the mother's body affects the baby too.
The biggest change in lifestyle that one has to make during pregnancy is, to give up smoking and drinking, two of the most harmful habits for the baby.
Why smoking matters:
Smoking increases the risk of infertility, making conception harder. If you smoke after getting pregnant, nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar exposure can adversely affect your baby's growth. Avoid being exposed to passive smoke as well. Both, the smoke you inhale when you smoke, and passive smoke, can harm your developing baby and result in infertility, premature birth, a baby with low birthweight, premature rupture of membranes, problems with the placenta, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
Studies also say that, there is an increased risk of the baby dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Children who have been exposed to cigarette smoke before birth, may get asthma and have learning and behavioural problems.
How to kick it: There is often no easy answer to quitting smoking. So, ask your doctor about local smoking cessation programs and quitting aids (if you're already trying to get pregnant, check with your doctor to confirm those aids are safe).
Try to quit smoking with START:
- Set a quit date.
- Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.
- Anticipate and plan for the challenges you'll face while quitting.
- Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work.
- Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.
Why it matters: Just like smoking, drinking alcohol before trying to become pregnant, may also have adverse effects on your fertility. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is known to cause Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, which result in physical, behavioural and cognitive problems. Alcohol consumption is also linked with increasing the chances of miscarriage.
A study published in the British Medical Journal found that women who drank more alcoholic beverages, had impaired fertility.Women who drank five or fewer drinks per week too, had a harder time getting pregnant, than women who didn't drink at all, while trying to conceive.
Alcohol appears to affect reproductive hormones in the body, delays monthly cycles, and causes menstrual cycles without ovulation. If ovulation doesn't occur, a woman's ovary doesn't release an egg. When this happens, a woman literally can't become pregnant, no matter how hard she tries.
Men who drink alcohol may also suffer from alcohol-related fertility issues, such as low sperm count and low sperm motility. As a result, a man's ejaculation contains fewer sperm, and a higher percentage of the available sperm are unable to make the long journey to fertilize a woman's egg.
So what's a couple to do? The best thing is to stop drinking alcohol, when you decide to get pregnant.
How to kick it: If you want to enjoy a cocktail while you're out with friends, you can trade your usual for a mocktail. While others are drinking, make yourself a spritzer with pomegranate juice, lime, and seltzer and stick a paper umbrella in it. Drink juice, smoothies or, if you must, soda made with cane sugar as an alternative. If you're a heavy drinker and think you need help to stop drinking, contact the Alcohol Rehabilitation centre in your city.
Remember, these bad habits are not more important than your life and your baby. You need to make a wise decision for your health and a choice between your habits and your happy and healthy future.