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Smoking and the unborn baby
Protecting your baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life. It's never too late to stop smoking. Every cigarette you smoke in pregnancy harms your unborn baby. Cigarettes restrict the essential oxygen supply to your baby, so their heart has to beat harder every time you smoke. Cigarettes also contain over 4,000 chemicals.
If you stop smoking now
Stopping smoking will benefit both you and your baby immediately. Carbon monoxide and chemicals will clear from your body and oxygen levels will return to normal. If you stop smoking:
- you will have less morning sickness and fewer complications in pregnancy
- you are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby
- you will reduce the risk of stillbirth
- you will cope better with the birth
- your baby will cope better with any birth complications
- your baby is less likely to be born too early and have to face the additional breathing, feeding and health problems that often go with being premature
- your baby is less likely to be born underweight and have a problem keeping warm: babies of women who smoke are, on average, 200g (about 8oz) lighter than other babies, may have problems during and after labour and are more prone to infection
- you will reduce the risk of cot death, also called sudden infant death
Stopping smoking will also benefit your baby later in life. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from illnesses that need hospital treatment, such as asthma.
The sooner you stop smoking, the better. But stopping even in the last few weeks of your pregnancy will benefit you and your baby.
If your partner or anyone else who lives with you smokes, their smoke can affect you and the baby both before and after birth. You may also find it more difficult to quit if someone around you smokes.
Second-hand smoke can cause low birthweight and cot death. Babies whose parents smoke are more likely to be admitted to hospital for bronchitis and pneumonia during the first year of life. More than 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital every year because of the effects of second-hand smoke.
Getting help with stopping smoking
Live Well Suffolk’s specialist Stop Smoking Clinics in Pregnancy are recommended by midwives and doctors in Suffolk.
We understand that trying to quit smoking is hard work, but with our support and encouragement, practical advice, and assistance on selecting appropriate Nicotine Replacement Therapy you are more likely to succeed.
Partners and family members who smoke are welcome to attend as well. Make your home smoke free!
Contact us now for further details.Close
If your life keeps you on the run – working late, travelling often, always busy – it might seem hard to eat enough fruit and vegetables. But make a few easy changes and you can fit 5 A DAY into the busiest schedule.
When you eat out, it can be hard to know exactly how much, if any, fruit and veg is in your food. Ready-made meals often contain less fruit and vegetables (and more fat and sugar) than the meals you’d cook for yourself.
All that can mean trouble when it comes to getting your 5 A DAY. But a few easy habits, and a little planning ahead, can help you increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat.
Dietitian Azmina Govindji has helped many time-pressed professionals fit 5 A DAY into their lifestyle.
"Changing your diet is a matter of acquiring a new habit," she says. "When you eat out or eat a ready meal, you’re less in control of what’s going into that food. So get into the habit of asking: what can I do that will add at least one portion of fruit or vegetables to this meal?"
For example, if you have a ready meal for dinner (ideally this will only happen occasionally as many are high in fat and salt), add some vegetables on the side, says Govindji.
"It can be as simple as opening a can of sweetcorn to put on the side. Just remember your question: What can I do to add a portion of fruit or vegetables?"
Once you get into that habit, says Govindji, you'll find it can be applied in many different situations.
Add a portion
You could slice fruit over your cereal or just grab a banana before you leave the house. If your breakfast is scrambled eggs, add some mushrooms or tomatoes.
Take apples, clementines, pears or satsumas to work to snack on. Or why not have some carrot or celery sticks with reduced-fat houmous? This requires a little forward planning. Think about what you want to take to work and buy it the next time you do your shopping.
At a sandwich bar for lunch
Can you add extra salad to your sandwich, roll or baguette? And have some fruit or a fresh, unsweetened 100% fruit juice for dessert.
In a restaurant
Can you order a starter, side vegetable or salad, or add an extra ingredient – to a pizza for example – that will count as one portion? Check the menu for starters and sides, and don’t be afraid to ask if the chef can add steamed vegetables to a dish or fruit to a pudding. Instead of ordering chips, ask for a fresh salad or some roasted vegetables.
When ordering a takeaway
How can you add a portion to a takeaway? If you have a Chinese, for example, add stir-fried vegetables. When ordering a pizza, ask for extra mushrooms on top to help towards your 5 A DAY. If you're having a curry, order a side vegetable dish.
Be aware that some vegetable dishes may be high in fat. Dishes that come in a tomato or vegetable-based sauce are usually lower in fat than those in cream or cheese-based sauces. Steamed vegetables are normally lower in fat than fried vegetables. Most takeaways and other fast foods contain high levels of fat, salt and sugar, so only have them occasionally or in small amounts as part of a balanced diet.
When eating out
Why not order a salad filled with a variety of vegetables for your main course, and ask for lower-fat dressing?
How will you add one portion of fruit and vegetables to food on the run? Make that question part of your daily routine and you’ll soon hit your 5 A DAY target.
To learn more about 5 A DAY, go to Why 5 A DAY?
If you have any 5 A DAY enquiries, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cecelia Elliott, a London secretary, realised her son might have to grow up without a mum if she didn't stop smoking. Here's how she successfully quit.
“I’ve been smoking on and off since I was 16. My dad used to smoke and I thought I’d try it. By the time I was an adult I was smoking 10 a day, but on a bad day I’d get through 15–20. I smoked even more when I was stressed.
“Over 26 years I had times where I stopped smoking. I’d always stop for Lent but I’d be counting the days until I could have a cigarette again. My 12-year-old son, Blair, used to lecture me on smoking. When I lit up he’d open a window and start coughing. But I didn’t want to know.
“Then one day we were driving along and saw a big stop-smoking poster with a picture of a wreath that spelt out MUM. It was obviously saying that the mum had died and the wreath was from her children. Blair looked at it and said, ‘I don’t want that to be me.’
'I didn't want to die from smoking'
"My mum died when I was a teenager and I didn't want Blair to go through that experience as well. So I thought, 'I have to sort this. I have to stop'. I knew I could die of something else, but I really didn't want to die from smoking. I didn't want to contribute to my own death.
"I saw an advert on TV for Quit and rang them to get the number of the support group nearest to me. By the time I went for my first appointment I'd already stopped for a week.
"The group met once a week for six weeks. It was great having the support of people in the same position. We could talk about our experiences, and we could phone each other if we needed help.
"About three weeks in, I did have a couple of puffs, just to see what I was missing, but I didn't enjoy it. Once I made up my mind there was no going back.
"It was much easier than I thought it would be. The only time that was difficult was just after dinner, when I'd usually have had a cigarette. But it was just habit. Instead I'd wash the dishes or do something else.
"I can now go out with people who smoke and I don't feel tempted. I look at them and think, 'I'm so glad I don't have to do that any more'. I'm more aware of how much it smells.
"Now I'm just loving life. I feel brilliant. I feel free of the burden of having to have cigarettes when I'm going out, or having to stand in a special queue for them in the supermarket.
"I love not smoking. I can put my hand on my heart now and say I will not smoke again. My son's over the moon about it. He keeps saying, 'I can't believe you've stopped for me'. He's chuffed to bits."
The picture on this page is posed by models.
Read what you can do now to stop smoking.
Dr Julie Sharp of Cancer Research answers seven important questions about the effect of sun on your skin and the importance of sunscreen.
1. How long can sunburn last?
Days. You can get sunburnt in just 10 minutes even in the UK. If you overdo it at a festival or on holiday, skin can be red, painful and peeling for a week or more.
Sunburn also damages your skin for life and doubles your risk of skin cancer.
2. What suncream should I use?
Use factor 15 plus with UVA and UVB protection, and apply regularly (every two to three hours). Use more after swimming. The paler your skin is, the greater care you need to take. If you're blonde, a redhead, have fair skin or lots of moles or freckles, you have a higher risk of skin cancer and need to take extra care.
3. I'm black. Is sun exposure still dangerous?
Yes. Black skin can burn too – it just takes more heat to do it. Although very dark black skin has a natural SPF, we still advise using an SPF of 15; although skin cancer is less common in black people, it tends to be more aggressive. Take particular care of the soles of your feet and palms of your hands, as they’re more prone to skin cancer.
4. Sun makes me feel good. What's so bad about it anyway?
Right now the worst thing about it might seem like sunburn and strap marks, but give it a few years and you could have wrinkles, moles, freckles, brown patches and, sometimes, skin cancer. Every year, 2,000 people die from malignant melanoma, and skin cancer is the second most common cancer in 20- to 39-year-olds.
5. Is sunbathing really worse when you're a teenager?
Yes, younger skin is more easily damaged than older skin. And you can't undo the damage. Once you've been sunburnt your skin will age prematurely.
6. I'm still not persuaded. Anything else to put me off?
The most common kind of skin cancer is rarely fatal. But it can be seriously disfiguring. If skin cancer is found on the face it has to be cut out and may even need plastic surgery. There is a risk of permanent scarring, or part of your nose may have to be cut away.
7. Are sunbeds safer?
No. Getting a tan on a sunbed will increase your risk of getting skin cancer and make you look old.
It is now illegal for under 18s to use sunbeds. Find more information on the Cancer Research website.
Are you concerned you might be drinking too much? Answer these simple questions and find out what kind of a relationship you have with alcohol.
Do you think you're doing enough physical activity? This simple assessment will help you understand what the recommended levels are and will assess how close you are to meeting them.