Pregnancy is a critical period for the development of the fetus, and it is important for expectant mothers to prioritize their health and well-being. One critical aspect of prenatal health is the avoidance of substances like tobacco, nicotine, and THC, which can have detrimental effects on both the mother and the developing fetus. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the risks associated with these substances during pregnancy and strategies to assist with cessation.
Tobacco and Nicotine Cessation in Pregnancy
Cigarette smoking is a leading cause of preventable death worldwide, and it is associated with a wide range of health problems, including lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Smoking during pregnancy is particularly concerning because it can harm the developing fetus in numerous ways. For example, smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and certain birth defects.
Nicotine, the primary psychoactive component of tobacco, can also be harmful to the developing fetus. Studies suggest that exposure to nicotine during pregnancy can lead to decreased fetal growth, preterm delivery, and long-term behavioral and cognitive problems in the child.
Given these risks, it is strongly recommended that expectant mothers avoid smoking and using nicotine in any form during pregnancy. However, quitting smoking or using nicotine products can be challenging, especially during pregnancy when hormonal changes and stress can make it harder to quit. Some strategies that may be helpful for quitting smoking or nicotine use during pregnancy include:
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): Nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine gum, patches, or lozenges, can be a helpful aid for quitting smoking during pregnancy. These products provide a low dose of nicotine that can help alleviate cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapy can help women quit smoking by providing support and developing coping strategies for managing cravings and stress.
Medications: Certain medications, such as bupropion and varenicline, may be used to help women quit smoking during pregnancy. However, the use of these medications should be carefully considered and only used under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
THC Cessation in Pregnancy
Marijuana use during pregnancy has become more common in recent years, in part due to changing attitudes toward cannabis and increased legalization of the drug. However, like tobacco and nicotine, marijuana use during pregnancy can have negative effects on the developing fetus.
THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana, can cross the placenta and enter the fetal bloodstream, potentially affecting fetal development. Studies suggest that exposure to THC during pregnancy may increase the risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, and long-term behavioral and cognitive problems in the child.
It is recommended that women avoid using marijuana or THC products during pregnancy. However, quitting can be challenging, especially for those who use cannabis to manage pain or nausea. Some strategies that may be helpful for quitting marijuana use during pregnancy include:
Behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapy can help women quit marijuana use by providing support and developing coping strategies for managing cravings and stress.
Medications: Certain medications, such as bupropion, may be used to help women quit marijuana use during pregnancy. However, the use of these medications should be carefully considered and only used under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
Alternative therapies: Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture or meditation, may be helpful for managing pain or nausea without using marijuana.
In conclusion, avoiding tobacco, nicotine, and THC during pregnancy is essential for the health and well-being of both the mother and the developing fetus. While quitting these substances can be challenging, there are strategies and resources available to help women quit and have a healthy pregnancy.
1800-quit-now can be a helpful resource.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2017). Smoking Cessation During Pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 129(5), e187–e195. https://doi.org/10.1097/aog.0000000000002035
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Smoking and Pregnancy. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/pregnancy/index.htm
England, L. J., Bunnell, R. E., & Pechacek, T. F. (2015). Nicotine and the Developing Human: A Neglected Element in the Electronic Cigarette Debate. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 49(2), 286–293. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2015.01.015
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Marijuana Research Report: Is marijuana safe and effective as medicine during pregnancy? https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-safe-effective-medicine-during-pregnancy
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2017). Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Lactation. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 130(4), e205–e209. https://doi.org/10.1097/aog.0000000000002354
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Marijuana Research Report: Marijuana use during pregnancy. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-use-during-pregnancy
By Yeni Yim, CNM