Smoking and pregnancy
If you want to get pregnant, or you have got pregnant being a smoker, it is time stop it and prevent your fetus from carbon monoxide, nicotine and other harmful substances which are found in the more than 4000 chemical ingredients contained in cigarettes, some of which, intentionally, are used by tobacco companies to make smoking even more addictive and more satisfying for the user. Women who smoke are less likely to get pregnant and have an increased risk of miscarriage. They usually have a problem in the intake of nutrients and especially antioxidant vitamins. The main side effect of smoking during pregnancy is reduced oxygen supply to the fetus. This is because, on the one hand, nicotine causes vasoconstriction and narrowing of the lumen of the blood vessels of the uterus and the placenta and, on the other hand, in the red blood cells, the position of oxygen is replaced by carbon monoxide, to a large extent. As a result, babies of mothers who smoke are born prematurely, with low body weight and with an increased risk of endometrial death. Passive smoking also hides similar risks.
Smoking cessation and withdrawal syndrome
If for all of the above reasons you decided to stop smoking, you should know that strong will is the most important component of success. However, despite your determination, you will have to experience nicotine withdrawal syndrome, including irritability, nervousness, sleeping disorders, anxiety, melancholy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, food cravings, obsessive thinking about cigarettes. Most of them take a few days. Some remain for 3-5 weeks. Obsessive thinking about cigarettes is the most persistent symptom, as it comes back even after months, it lasts a few minutes and leaves. Will you overcome the habit?
Acupuncture as a supportive tool to quit smoking
Acupuncture may, however, support you in confronting these new unpleasant symptoms. Acupuncture has multiple modes of action in the body: it regulates the endocrine system, the autonomic nervous system (sympathetic, parasympathetic), the neurochemical environment of the brain (regulation of mood substances like endorphin, serotonin, dopamine, etc.). Moreover, it is used in many painful conditions (musculoskeletal pain, headache, dysmenorrhea, irritable colon, etc.) because it also regulates the sense of pain. It is a method that does not use drugs, has no side effects or significant contraindications so that it can be applied to pregnant women. A few hours after the painless placement of thin, sterile needles at specific points, in the ear, face, and body, you will have a reduced desire for smoking, the symptoms of nicotine deficiency will be milder, the desire, when present, will be controlled and less agonising than it usually is. At the same time, you might feel nauseousness towards tobacco, which as time passes will be more intense. It is very important that acupuncture also has an anxiolytic effect, which reduces the stress of the first few days following the cessation of smoking. There are several acupuncture protocols that differ in the number and frequency of sessions. What is right for you will be decided by the doctor in charge of the treatment after completing the appropriate questionnaires about your smoking habits. Your doctor will also give you instructions and tips that will make your effort even more effective.
The common mechanism of action of nicotine and acupuncture in the brain
Nicotine, like other addictive substances, acts on the dopamine system, the “neurotransmitter of happiness,” in the brain. They change the dopamine levels and the number of its receptors in nerve cells, as well as the receptor’s behaviour towards them. The result is that the user feels euphoria, pleasure, stress reduction. Because of these effects, it urges the user to search for nicotine repeatedly. On the other hand, deprivation of cigarettes reduces nicotine levels in the brain, resulting in nervousness, discomfort, symptoms that lead him/her to the search for the substance again. The brain, however, produces its substances (e.g. nicotine-like substances such as β-endorphin, acetylcholine and dopamine) to replace the nicotine action. Adaptation takes time (from four to six months). This is where acupuncture helps, by shortening the adjustment time. After placing the special needles at the appropriate acupuncture points, a significant number of endogenous substances (substances produced by cells or tissues of the body, especially cerebral neurons) are transported by blood circulation, cerebrospinal fluid, and nerve fibres to specific cells – targets in areas of the brain related to dependence and pleasure. There, these substances mimic the action of nicotine. As a result, nicotine withdrawal body and mind symptoms reduce.
The time of the big decision: Say yes to a child, say no to a cigarette.
Summing up the moment you decide to have a child, it would have to coincide with your decision to stop a chronic dependence with which you have learned to live, and you need to satisfy it so that you feel good. In the phase of family making, priorities are changing, so it’s time to take the control against the tobacco companies.