Chapter 4: Helping women stay healthy
Avoid smoking, alcohol, and other drugs
Cigarette smoke, alcohol, and other drugs are all harmful to
the mother. When a woman smokes, drinks, or takes drugs,
they also pass through her blood to her baby.
Smoking is dangerous for anyone. It can lead to serious
problems including cancer. When a pregnant woman
smokes, or even when she breathes the smoke from someone
near her, her blood vessels get smaller and do not carry as
much air or food to her baby. Because of this, babies of
women who smoke are more likely to be small or sick.
Drinking a lot of alcohol can be dangerous for anyone.
Heavy drinking can lead to many illnesses including serious
problems of the liver. When a pregnant woman drinks, even
just 1 or 2 drinks a day, her baby can have birth defects or
disabilities that affect the brain.
Some drugs, particularly opium, heroin, cocaine, and
barbiturates, are very addictive and dangerous. When a
pregnant woman takes these drugs, her baby can be born
with a drug addiction or with other serious health problems.
If you work with a woman who may be addicted to
alcohol or other drugs, try to find help for her. She may be
Whatever a mother
puts into her body
passes to her baby.
able to stop if she understands the risks to her and her baby.
Advise her to stay away from people who are smoking, drinking, or taking drugs.
You may be able to help her find others in your community who have
stopped using alcohol or drugs and who meet to support each other. The book
Where Women Have No Doctor has more ideas about how to help someone stop
abusing alcohol and drugs.
I’m so glad I can talk to
you all instead of
having another drink.
A Book for Midwives (2010)