Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices During Pregnancy: Part 1


Unhealthy lifestyle choices can greatly affect your pregnancy. The baby in the womb goes through many changes in the first few weeks/months as they grow and develop. A baby’s brain, organs, and body develop all throughout pregnancy. The baby needs oxygen and nutrients to continue growing and developing into a strong and healthy baby. This is where the umbilical cord comes in. The umbilical cord is used to transfer oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s circulation into the baby’s circulation. So basically, everything that goes into your body- whether food, drink, medications, drugs, etc., is going from your bloodstream directly over to the baby. There are many dangerous chemicals in drugs and alcohol that can affect your baby’s ability to develop properly. 


These unhealthy lifestyle choices (using drugs, drinking alcohol, smoking, etc.) decrease the supply of oxygen to the baby. How??! Let’s take nicotine for example- Nicotine causes the blood vessels to constrict (or shrink). The shrinking of the blood vessels is not allowing enough oxygen or nutrients to get to the baby. This can have many dangerous effects on the baby. Baby could be born with low birth weight, could be born early, stillborn, have an increased risk for birth defects, decreased movement in the womb, increased risk for SIDS, and increased likelihood of having brain damage. And that was just to name a few. The mother is also affected by these unhealthy lifestyle choices and has an increased risk of developing lung cancer, chronic lung disease, heart disease, or stroke.


There is no safe number of illegal drugs that are safe to ingest and they can be especially dangerous to a pregnant woman. The same also goes for alcohol, tobacco, and certain medications. If drugs are used all throughout pregnancy, a baby can be born addicted to drugs and face painful withdrawal symptoms. It is also important to know that it is not safe to be around second-hand or even third-hand smoke as the toxins can still enter our bodies through our lungs or skin (our largest organ!).


In part 2 we will discuss the benefits of changing this lifestyle for both mother and baby, as well as discuss HOW! If you are seeking help, you can contact 1-800-662-HELP for the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Hotline or 1-800-QUIT-NOW for assistance to quit smoking.


-McKenzie, RN

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Saturday, 13 July 2024

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