Smoking During Pregnancy

Smoking is bad for your health, but there are even greater risks for your developing baby. So if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, now is the time to stop smoking. This not only protects your baby, but it also helps reduce your chances of other health problems like cancer, heart disease and lung problems. The challenge to quick smoking is going to be hard, but it is worth it both for you and your baby. You can do it.

Smoking During Pregnancy:

If you smoke… so does your baby. Nicotine and carbon monoxide from smoking will enter into your system and get into your placenta. The placenta is the organ that connects you to your baby and delivers oxygen and nutrients to your baby. The nicotine will cross through the placenta and go to your baby which restrict the appropriate supply of nutrients and oxygen that your baby needs to grow.

Low birth weight, premature birth, and infant death can be caused by smoking during pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy is reported to account for approximately 20 to 30 percent of low-birth weight babies, up to 14 percent of preterm deliveries, and about 10 percent of all infant deaths according to American Lung Association.

Second hand smoke CAN cause problems for your baby. According to the American Lung Association, new studies have shown that your baby is also at risk if you breathe second hand smoke during pregnancy. Again your baby would be susceptible to low birth weight and premature birth. The best thing is to stay away from those that smoke.

Your baby may experience long term health risks. More colds, lung problems, learning disabilities and limited growth can all be long term problems for babies exposed to smoking during pregnancy.

The same long term risks are there for the baby if you continue or start smoking after the baby is born. A baby will be more susceptible to bronchitis and pneumonia if the mother smokes after the baby is born. Your baby’s lungs are smaller and smoking makes it harder for them to breathe correctly.

Nicotine replacement therapy such as the patch can still affect your baby. Before using any nicotine replacement or cessation aids, you should discuss it with your health care provider. You and your provider can discuss what is more beneficial for you and your baby.

Creating a plan to quit:

We understand that smoking is hard to quit, but we have faith that you can do it! If you are thinking about quitting, be prepared and have a plan.

1. Create a list of reasons and benefits for quitting.

There are benefits for your developing baby:

  1. Reduces the chances of your baby having a low birth weight or being born prematurely.
  2. Increases the nutrients ad oxygen that you baby will get.
  3. Lessens the chances of your baby having any health problems.
  4. Increases the chances that your baby will go home with you from the hospital on time.

There are benefits for you:

  1. · Lowers the risk of future health problems such as heart disease, cancer and lung problems
  2. · Gives you more energy to go through your pregnancy
  3. · Saves you money that you can spend on baby items

2. Create new daily habits.

Look at the times you normally smoke and do something different. For example, instead of smoking after a meal, start a new tradition like going for a walk or reading your favorite book.

Another example would be to not smoke when you read the newspaper and drink a milk shake or eat a small snack.

3. Develop a support network of friends, family and professionals.

Call a friend or family member for help and encouragement when you are tempted to smoke. You will be less tempted to smoke if you are around others who do not smoke.

Talk to your health care provider about ways to stop smoking and maybe join a “stop smoking” support group. You may find that things like nicotine patches, gum, inhaler or medications are helpful, but you need to consult with your health care provider before doing this during pregnancy. They might be the right step if you trying to conceive and want to stop smoking before you get pregnant. These aids still contain nicotine, which can affect your baby’s growth and health.

4. Make it Now!

Start now by throwing away all of your cigarettes and ashtrays.

Quick Quit Tips:

  1. Keep your hands and mouth busy (chew gum, register for your baby shower, start a new craft, suck on hard candy).
  2. When you feel an urge to smoke, simply look at the list you wrote of reasons to quit.
  3. Call your support person when you feel like smoking.
  4. Do not surround yourself with people who smoke or places that are not smoke free

Support Numbers to Help You Quit:

  • Contact the American Cancer Society’s Quitline for free telephone counseling to help you quit. It is easy. A counselor will call you where and when you choose. You’ll learn why it’s tough to quit and techniques to help you quit successfully. Make a difference in your health and the health of your baby. Call the Quitline today (800) 227-2345

  • Great Start Program of the American Legacy Foundation: (866) 667-8278

Last Updated: 07/2008


Compiled using information from the following sources:

The National Partnership to Help Pregnant Smokers Quit, http://www.helppregnantsmokersquit.org/

March of Dimes, http://www.marchofdimes.com

American Lung Association, http://www.lungusa.org/

Smoking and Your Baby, http://www.americanpregnancy.org

Leave a Reply