By Candace Myers
WIC Project Director
Champaign Health District
Parenting is hard, especially if you don’t have a lot of support or struggle to make ends meet. Trying to figure out how to work and get an affordable caregiver, getting your kids to play outside and stay relatively clean, or trying to get them to eat enough vegetables are just some of the decisions we face.
We may not be able to control many things in life, and often our decisions are picking the best choice among mediocre options. Yet, there are some things that we can choose that are the best decisions for us and our children.
Pregnancy lays the foundation for the rest of a child’s life, and what we decide to do during and after can have lifetime consequences for our family.
Smoking during pregnancy prevents much-needed oxygen from getting to your baby, which can lead to slow growth and development in the womb. Without certain developmental achievements, infants can have challenges with breathing, feeding, brain function, and movement. NIH states that research also shows that prenatal smoking can cause behavior problems, such as opposition, aggression, and inattention. Challenges like these continue throughout childhood and teen years.
Secondhand smoke contains 4,000 chemicals and can cause respiratory issues, allergy-related symptoms, tooth decay, ear infections per the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children’s lungs are still developing so exposure to secondhand smoke is even more detrimental than for an adult, which is why it is recommended to never smoke around kids, even in a separate room.
Additionally, children exposed to the smoking of more than 1 pack of cigarettes per day in a household were 22.7 times more likely than other children to develop sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) according to the National Institute of Health.
Smokefree.gov states that smoking impacts mothers in many ways too, such as reproductive issues, including trouble getting pregnant, respiratory issues, heart issues, cancer, and pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage, preeclampsia (high blood pressure) or preterm birth.
If you are ready to quit, here are some resources available:
Smoke Free Mom is a free program offered by the National Cancer Institute for that supports pregnant women daily for 6-8 weeks and can be done through texting. Sign up by texting ‘MOM’ to 222888.
Mercy Health REACH Tobacco Program offers a free 6-week program to anyone, with incentives such as gas cards and items to help with cravings. Classes are held at Mercy Hospital in Urbana. To register, contact Marcy Ivory at 937-390-5333.
1-800-QUIT-NOW is a nationwide network that offers free 24/7 support. During pregnancy and postpartum, parents can earn gift cards for participating in the program. Call or text QUITNOW to 333888.
Candice Myers, NDTR, IBCLC is the WIC Project Director at the Champaign Health District. WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). For more information about Champaign County WIC please call 937-484-1668.