Smoking while pregnant is undoubtedly bad for you and your baby’s health. Cigarettes have many harmful effects on our bodies including:
- Lowering the amount of oxygen available to you and your baby
- Increasing your baby’s heart rate and chances of miscarriage and stillbirth
- Heightening the risk of premature birth or low birth weight
- Increasing your baby’s risk of developing respiratory problems or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
It’s been proven again and again that you should definitely avoid cigarettes while you’re pregnant.
But what about electronic cigarettes? Widely used as a healthier alternative among people trying to kick the smoking habit, e-cigarettes or vaporisers are a handy way to stem those nicotine cravings. But what effect are they having on our babies in utero? Are they safe or should they be avoided as much as cigarettes?
What exactly are they?
E-cigarettes are battery-operated cigarettes that turn chemicals into vapour, which can then be inhaled.
What’s in them?
The liquid in e-cigarettes is made up of nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine and flavourings. However, these ingredients change depending on the type of vaporiser you purchase.
Are they safe?
E-cigarettes are not regulated and are a relatively new product, so we do not know exactly what amounts of chemicals are present in them. We know that they have nicotine in them, which is why they’re popular with people trying to quit smoking. However, even though they don’t contain the harmful smoke of cigarettes, nicotine is an addictive substance that is toxic to reproduction and interferes with fetal brain development. It also narrows your blood vessels, limiting the amount of vitamins and minerals you pass to your baby through the placenta.
The truth is electronic cigarettes are not regulated, so you cannot not know what kind or what amounts of chemicals they contain.
What does the doctor say?
Dr Sam Coulter-Smith is a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, former master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, and a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Royal College of Surgeons. Sam told maternity&infant magazine: “We don’t know what their effects are yet as they are relatively new and there is no long-term follow-up on their use either during or outside pregnancy.”
This leads us to believe that e-cigarettes are not a suitable substitute for cigarettes while pregnant.