Smoking In Pregnancy


smoking in pregnancy

Smoking whilst pregnant exposes you and your unborn baby to an increased risk of health problems.

Smoking in pregnancy can put you at an increased risk of a wide range of problems including ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and premature labour.

You are twice as likely to give birth to a low birth weight baby compared to non-smokers, which can bring a lot of problems in itself.

There are so many reasons not to smoke in pregnancy however quitting is not as easy as it seems, especially if you have been smoking for many years.

The aim of this blog is to give you a bit of an idea of the issues related to smoking in pregnancy and hopefully a reason to try and quit.


Pregnancy Complications From Smoking

  •  It can lead to stillbirth, miscarriage and premature birth
  •  It can stop your baby from growing properly
  •  It can affect your baby’s ability to breathe properly after the birth
  •  It can increase the chance that your baby will die from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  •  It can cause problems with the placenta, including early detachment from the uterine wall (placental abruption) and blocking the cervical opening (placenta praevia)

Effects On The Baby Whilst You Are Still Pregnant

Every time a pregnant woman smokes a cigarette, it cuts down oxygen to her unborn baby and exposes the baby to a cocktail of chemicals, including chemicals that cause cancer

Some of the many damaging effects on your unborn baby can be:

  • A reduced oxygen supply due to carbon monoxide and nicotine
  • Your baby could have slow growth and development throughout the pregnancy
  • Your baby can have an increased risk of cleft lip and cleft palate
  • You may find you have decreased fetal movements in the womb for at least an hour after smoking one cigarette
  • It can cause changes in the baby’s brain and lungs

Things You Can Try And Do In Pregnancy To Help

  •  If you can’t give up smoking cold turkey, your doctor may be able to give you some medication to help
  •  If your partner smokes, encourage your partner to get help for smoking too. It will make it easier if you both quit together
  •  Don’t be discouraged – every cigarette you don’t smoke is good for your baby
  • If you stop smoking by the fourth month of pregnancy, your baby’s birth weight is still likely to be normal
  • You can always Call QuitLine on 13 78 48 – they would love to help you

Smoking And Breastfeeding

Can you believe that over two-thirds of females who quit when they are pregnant resume smoking once their babies are born. That is a HUGE statistic.

Although smoking and breastfeeding is not ideal, it is better to breastfeed and smoke than not to breastfeed at all.

Problems Caused By Smoking Whilst Breastfeeding

  • Some of the chemicals in cigarettes can pass from the mother to the baby through the breast milk
  • Nicotine in your breast milk can cause your baby to get chest infections. It is more likely to that your baby may vomit, have diarrhea and/or become irritable
  • Smoking can reduce your milk production
  • Women who smoke are less likely to breastfeed and are more likely to wean their child earlier than mothers who do not smoke

If You Can’t Manage To Quit Here Are Some Tips

  • Always smoke outside and when friends and family visit ask them to smoke outside too
  • Please be aware that cigarette smoke gets on your clothes and is harmful for the baby to breathe in. Change the top layer of your clothing after you smoke. A good tip is to have a top outside that you can put on when you smoke and take off when you are finished. Leave that top outside.
  • Always wash your hands and face thoroughly after smoking and before you touch your baby
  • Never smoke in the car, especially when children are present

 Where To Get Help

  • Your GP
  • Midwives
  • Obstetrician’s
  • Quitline Tel. 13 7848 (13 QUIT)

Written by Midwife Zoe

(This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional. All information is written from the experience and knowledge of the person writing the post).