Growing a human is hard work. From the morning sickness to needing a new wardrobe, to the aches and pains, pregnancy can be far from the beautiful picture that everyone describes.
Giving birth is not only the end for your 40 week journey, but is something a lot of women dread. From the pain of contractions to the fear of all the things that could go wrong, rarely women get that “Hollywood birth” that they are hoping for.
This fear of giving birth has lead to an unsafe practice among pregnant teens that has the intention of stunting fetal growth.
“Some had even taken it up for the first time for that very reason, and some smoked harder, hoping the promise on the packet would come true. If you smoked more, you could make it better. I was really struck by that,” says associate professor Simone Dennis, of the Australian National University.
A 10-year study from Australian National University shows that pregnant teen moms are so scared of labor and what it will do to their bodies that they’ve taken up smoking to reduce the weight of their unborn children.
Smoking while pregnant can cause a myriad of health complications including a higher risk of stillbirth or miscarriage, as well as heart problems and birth defects.
Still, these young moms see smoking as way to reduce the damage that pregnancy and birth has on their bodies.
“They had read on packets that smoking can reduce the birth weight of your baby, which is obviously not how the public health message is intended to be taken,” she said.
These pregnant women also see a small birth weight as an advantage to their daughters growing up, because they will be “petite.”
“We also found some young women, who upon learning they were having a girl, wanting to make sure she was small because they were of the belief that being a girl and being small was a good thing. Little means cute, you see?” she says.
Pregnant moms have been encouraged to refrain from smoking while pregnant to preserve their health and the health of their babies.
“It’s a matter of education, sure smoking might mean a difference in birth weight, but it is only often in grams, and it can be because of calcification that occurs elsewhere. It’s not a simple thing. The negative consequences of smoking during pregnancy are far reaching, it is beyond birth weight alone,” she said.
What do you think of this practice? How should it be managed?