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Give your baby a breath of fresh air

October 09, 2009|By LEIGH HAMRICK, Special to The Herald-Mail

I'm disgusted by how acceptable it is for a pregnant woman to smoke.

For me, there isn't any gray area when it comes to smoking during pregnancy. It's wrong, period. Any argument made to the contrary is designed merely to excuse a smoker's habit, regardless of its consequences to others.

Study after study has proven that smoking is carcinogenic, both to the smoker and to anyone else forced to inhale the smoke. Not only that, but smoking is linked to a host of problems, including low birth weight, premature birth, placenta abruption, miscarriage, stillbirth and retarded fetal development. Children who have been exposed to cigarette smoke, both inside and outside of their mother, are prone to chronic respiratory infections. The list goes on, and so does my passionate anger on this subject.

Our babies are so helpless. They're forced to accept the conditions in which they're raised in because they can do absolutely nothing to change them. We, as parents, are responsible for them completely. Don't we want to protect our babies? Nurture them and care for them, swaddle them with love, and give them the very best we can?

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Then why do so many women still smoke during their pregnancy? The person most able to defend her baby is the one hurting it.

Send your child to school with suspicious bruises and you'll have child protective services on you in a heartbeat. But they'll look the other way if you want to light up while your little baby is trying to develop their heart, lungs, and brains.

Have you ever driven past a substance abuse clinic? Scattered outside you'll find any number of people smoking cigarettes, and many of them are pregnant women. During group or intensive outpatient programs, designed to teach the patient about addiction and how to fight surrendering to cravings, 15-minute smoke breaks are given. Does this not seem a contradiction to you?

If you want to have a baby, stop smoking before you even get pregnant. Did you know that smoking not only harms your baby, but damages your reproductive system? And if you've discovered you're pregnant, stop smoking right away. Don't imagine that nothing is happening to your baby. You're a mother now, and this is your baby. Give them everything they need, and entitle them to every healthy opportunity they deserve.

This includes beginning life with a breath of fresh air.

-Leigh Hamrick is a freelance writer and mother who raises a son, a daughter and a husband in Frederick County.

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