Stressed out pregnant moms drinking and smoking

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I know lots of women who drink alcohol and some who smoke cigarettes. I don't know a single one who did either while pregnant. Well, for all I know these women were hiding in their garages each night secretly chugging wine and puffing on cigarettes, but I doubt it. These are intelligent women who understand the dangers that alcohol and cigarettes can have on their unborn children and were willing to make that sacrifice for the well-being of their child.

Unfortunately, there are some mothers who won't make that sacrifice. According to UK baby charity Tommy's, one in 20 pregnant mothers smoke cigarettes and one in 25 drink alcohol. Why would a women endanger the health of her unborn child? According to Tommy's, nine out of ten women feel stressed during pregnancy and some of them turn to cigarettes and alcohol to relieve that stress.

Stress in itself has been shown to increase the risk of complications during pregnancy, sometimes resulting in miscarriage and premature delivery. But relieving stress by indulging in drinking and smoking creates an even greater risk to the baby. Smoking while pregnant can lead to low birth weight, miscarriage and stillbirth, among other things. Babies born to mothers who binge drink are more likely to suffer fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause brain damage and facial deformities.

According to Andrew Shennan, professor of obstetrics for Tommy's, pregnant women need to be informed about healthy ways to reduce stress. "Instead of turning to cigarettes or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, these measures can sometimes be as simple as talking through whatever issues are causing concern, or seeking out additional information on the subject," he says.

Pregnancy and all the changes that becoming a parent brings can be stressful. I remember feeling anxious a lot when pregnant with Christy. To relax, I would spend hours floating in the swimming pool, listening to music. What did you do to relieve stress when you were pregnant?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.