E-cigarettes have been around for quite a while now and a lot of smokers find them useful when they are trying to quit smoking. However, there is a lot that is still unknown about these electronic cigarettes and vaping. Therefore, other nicotine replacement products that have been tested before are highly recommended instead. However, medical experts believe that e-cigarettes are a lot safer than smoking. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they are completely safe. E-cigarettes are not regulated and licensed as some other nicotine replacement products. Hence, before thinking about e-cigs and vapes, you should consider trying out nicotine replacement products however even these have mixed feedback, so ideally they should be used before you become pregnant.
1. What are E-Cigarettes?
Before we get into whether or not you should smoke e-cigarettes while pregnant, let us first have a look at what e-cigarettes are. For starters, e-cigarettes are not actual cigarettes mainly because they do not contain tobacco. However, some of them look like cigarettes, and thus appeal to many that are trying to quit smoking. They come in distinct shapes and sizes: pipes, pens, small screwdrivers, pocket flashlights, USB memory sticks, or cigars. They are also called vape pens, e-cigs, personalised vaporisers, mechanical mods, or cigalikes.
Whatever the name or shape, all the aforementioned devices deliver nicotine in vapour form instead of the tobacco smoke of a conventional cigarette. For most e-cigs, puffing on the cartridge heats up the liquid, which releases vapour. This liquid can either be flavoured or unflavoured and comes with different levels of nicotine. This is the main reason why people believe that e-cigarettes help smokers to gradually cut down to a much lower level of nicotine and eventually stop smoking completely.
2. Are E-Cigarettes Safer Than Normal Cigarettes?
Experts are yet to come up with the conclusion whether e-cigarettes are safer compared to normal cigarettes. No scientist would be willing to put an expecting mother in harm’s way in the name of doing a research. Additionally, there are numerous e-cigarette brands and e-liquid flavours that have started to be regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Also, it is still impossible to know what is contained in some e-cigarettes. Therefore, very little comprehensive research has been conducted to determine the effects of e-cigs compared to those of normal cigarettes.
Here are the details about what is known:
Tobacco smoke from normal cigarette contains more than 7,000 chemicals, of which are cancer-causing and toxic. On the other hand, e-cigarettes are less toxic as they contain less chemicals. Due to this, it can be said that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes. Despite this, the harmful effects of e-cigs cannot be ignored. This is because e-cigarette vapour is not just a harmless water vapour Liquid used in e-cigarettes is made of glycerine, nicotine, propylene, glycol, and flavouring chemicals. Studies also show that this liquid is at a high voltage which might cause formation of other chemicals such as formaldehyde, which is cancer-causing.
A review by the FDA reported that the level of nicotine listed on cartridge labels of e-cigarettes is usually different from what is in the product. Additionally, harmful chemicals, apart from nicotine, were found in refill solutions, cartridges, and aerosols of e-cigarettes.
3. If The E-Cigarettes Label Says Nicotine-Free, Are They?
Nowadays, labels on any product cannot be trusted to be a 100% accurate. Therefore, it is hard for some members of the public to trust whether the information given on ‘nicotine-free’ e-cigs is truthful. Studies on regulatory labelling show that labelling on e-cigs cannot be trusted and it is not extraordinary to find a ‘nicotine-free’ e-cig having some level of nicotine in it.
4. Can E-Cigarettes Harm Your Unborn Baby?
Research shows that pregnant ladies who use e-cigarettes might be harming their unborn babies unknowingly. Studies show that vaping causes damage to the fetus’ nervous system. This makes vaping as harmful as smoking tobacco. According to scientists, e-cigs cause poor learning, coordination, and memory. It also leads to hyperactive behaviour in the child born by a mother using e-cigs during pregnancy. There are a lot of studies that show that e-cigarettes could have a negative impact on the health of the unborn child. Although these effects might not be visible at birth, they may occur later in the child’s life.
Just like cigarette smoke, vaping chemicals distort gene activities in the part of the brain that is responsible for higher mental functions. Also, e-cig vapour caused a variety of gene changes even without nicotine. This information simply shows that early exposure to alternative nicotine/tobacco products can have great effects on reproduction and long term health.
Although e-cigarettes have helped some people to stop smoking, one cannot escape the hard truth that certain chemicals are still being inhaled. These chemicals have the potential to cause harmful effects to health, fertility, and the unborn baby. Therefore, although e-cigarettes have become a popular alternative to normal cigarettes, they are not recommended for pregnant women.
5. How Can Exposure to Second-hand E-Cigarette Smoke Affect You and Your Unborn Child During Pregnancy?
Even if you are not using e-cigarettes, they could still have negative effects on your unborn child. Research shows that e-cigs emit a significant amount of nicotine. This means that if you are close to someone vaping a cigarette, you stand a chance to be exposed to second-hand nicotine. Additionally, since the aerosol can contain other harmful chemicals, you could get exposed to those ones too.
At the moment, the effects of second-hand e-cigarette smoke are not yet fully known. Nevertheless, it is very clear that second-hand exposure to e-cigarette smoke is without doubt associated with a lot of health issues, such as lung cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Second-hand smoke also rises the risk of Sudden Infant Death (SID). It can also cause health issues to children like asthma, illnesses, and other breathing problems. Furthermore, it can cause a child to get addicted to nicotine later in life.
The American Academy of Paediatrics warns that exposure to e-cigs could be dangerous for children. This is the main reason why this group plus the American Medical Association asked the FDA to regulate e-cigs like other tobacco products. This meant, increasing the nationwide age to buy e-cigarettes to 21, implementing bans on public smoking, and taxing e-cigarettes. Additionally, since ingesting e-liquid can be deadly, the American Academy of Paediatrics is also asking for child-resistant packaging of e-cigs and liquids.
Frequent exposure to e-cigarette smoke especially when you are out and about is unavoidable. Therefore, to limit second-hand exposure, the American Academy of Paediatrics has recommended the government to come up with stringent measures to deal with smoking. For example, the government can restrict smoking in workplaces, restaurants, healthcare facilities, places where children live, recreational facilities, parks, and multi-unit housing.
6. The Best Recommendations for Pregnancy
During pregnancy, it is recommended that you limit exposure to e-cigarette vapour and cigarette smoke as much as you can. You should try to avoid all nicotine products such as e-cigarettes, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products, and chewing tobacco. Also, make your home and car smoke-free. If you are yet to quit smoking, then smoke outside your house, and take off your clothes before coming inside. This will help to prevent negative effects of smoke that might be lingered on your clothes. Furthermore, make sure that all the places you visit are smoke-free. And, if anyone happens to light a cigarette next to you, go to another place, or ask them not to smoke around you.
7. Better Ways to Quit Smoking
Although there are some several claims that e-cigs can help a person quit smoking, the National Cancer Institute says there is no evidence to prove this point. Therefore, e-cigarettes are not approved as smoking cessation devices. In fact, some researches show that e-cigs might even make it more difficult for you to quit the smoking habit.
The Following are the best Alternatives to Help You Quit Smoking
Quit on Your Own
Quitting smoking on your own can be a very overwhelming process. However, most people do it on their own and emerge successful. To increase the chances of success, consider creating a ‘quit plan’ that features why you want to quit such as the little baby growing inside of you. Also, plan for smoking triggers and how you can avoid them. Furthermore, you should consider more healthy habits. Get busy, eat well, and have enough sleep. You can also find alternative methods of relieving your stress such as deep breathing, meditation, and exercising. If you miss the feeling of having something in your mouth, it is recommended that you keep substitutes around. These alternatives can be like apples, carrots, gum, or raisins.
In addition to support groups, counselling from a doctor or any other smoking cessation professional can be quite helpful. In fact, studies show that mothers who get counselling are 80% more likely to quite, and less likely to pick up smoking again later in life. Ask your doctor about this kind of counselling, or check with clinics and hospitals around you to see if they have counsellors that can help you out.
Talk to Your Physician about Nicotine Replacement Therapy
If you are not able to quit smoking on your own, you could do so with the help of nicotine replacement therapy products. Such remedies include patches and lozenges, over-the-counter gums, and nasal sprays and inhalers. You should only use these products as per prescribed by the doctor due to the fact that they contain nicotine, which should be avoided during pregnancy.
Get Backup from Other Sources
You don’t have to do it alone. Get help from family, friends, and support groups. Apart from this, you could also get advice from the QUIT-NOW hotline, where you will get help on creating a quitting plan, and get access to educational materials. Also, the National Cancer Institute has a Smokefree Women website which offers information and support to pregnant women in search of information on how to quit any nicotine product, including e-cigs. They also have a messaging service, SmokefreeMOM that offers information, advice, and tips to pregnant mothers. The messages received depend on the due date of the expectant mother and whether she is ready to quit smoking or not.
8. E-Cigarettes Concerns
Studies on the safety of e-cigs evaluating almost the same aspects have ended up offering different conclusions. Due to methodological issues, conflict of interests, and inconsistent studies, there are no definitive conclusions that can be determined pertaining to the safety of e-cigarettes. However, despite the fact that there is very little data about their safety, they cannot be considered to be harmless.
The pharmaceutical industry, the health community, and other interested groups have raised concerns over the new phenomenon of e-cigarettes, including possible health risks from long-term use of e-cigarettes. There are concerns that a lot of smokers attempting to stop smoking by vaping might stop it, but maintain the intake of nicotine since the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are not clear. A policy statement by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Association for Cancer Research states that the harms and benefits of e-cigarettes need to be evaluated with respect to the population at large, while paying attention to their effects on adolescents, children, women of reproductive age, and pregnant women. It is recommended that precautionary methods be used for e-cigarettes due to the long history of the tobacco menace. This will help to easily asses the benefits and effects of e-cigs so as to help avoid the rise of another nicotine crisis.
The use of e-cigarettes when you are expecting has been strongly warned against by experts. Despite the fact that quitting might seem like an impossible thing to do, avoiding nicotine during pregnancy is the best thing you can do for yourself and your unborn baby. As aforementioned, there are many methods you can implement to quit smoking completely. However, your determination and dedication will play a great role here. When things get tough, remind yourself of your unborn child and how healthy he/she will be if you make the right decision.
All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.