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Smoking During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a great time for you to quit smoking. You will feel better, have more energy, and reduce your risks of future health problems such as heart disease, cancer and lung problems.

Even knowing the danger, 12-20 percent of pregnant women smoke; putting themselves and their babies at risk. And over 1,000 babies in the U.S. die each year because their moms smoked while pregnant.

The benefits of quitting are great, but the process is hard, especially with the added stress of pregnancy. Although this may be a tough journey, resources are available to help you break the habit.

Facts About Smoking During Pregnancy:

When you smoke... so does your baby.

When you smoke, you inhale poisons such as nicotine, lead, arsenic and carbon monoxide. These poisons get into the placenta, the tissue that connects you to your baby sending him/her oxygen and nutrients and eliminating wastes. These poisons keep your baby from getting the proper supply of nutrients and oxygen that he or she needs to grow.

Smoking during pregnancy can cause low-birth weight, preterm delivery and infant death.

Smoking during pregnancy is estimated to account for 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 the American Lung Association (ALA).

Second-hand smoke CAN cause problems for your baby.

According to the ALA, if a woman is around second-hand smoke during pregnancy, there are added risks. She has a greater chance of having a baby that weighs too little and may have health problems.

There can be long-term health risks for your baby.

Smoking during pregnancy can cause your baby to have more colds, lung problems, learning disabilities and physical growth problems.

If a mother continues to smoke after the baby is born, the baby may get more colds, coughs and middle-ear infections. Babies have very small lungs, and smoke from cigarettes makes it harder for them to breathe. This can cause the baby to get bronchitis and pneumonia.

Third-hand smoke can cause serious issues for babies and young children.

Studies now link babies and young children exposed to third-hand smoke with an increased risk of:

  • Asthma
  • Breathing problems
  • Learning disabilities
  • Cancer

Third-hand smoke is the contamination that occurs from cigarette smoking. These toxins build up over time, one cigarette at a time.

You can’t see third-hand smoke, but it has serious health affects. Third-hand smoke is made up of gasses and toxins that remain in fibers, such as: 

  • Clothes
  • Hair
  • Carpet
  • Furniture
  • Drapes

Because babies and young children's brains are still developing, they are much more susceptible to any levels of toxins. And because young children are often closer in proximity to the surfaces that absorb these layers of toxins (and are also more likely to put their mouths on room surfaces), these contaminated surfaces become much more dangerous to them than adults.

Pregnant women and young children should try to stay away from any places where smoking occurs.

Nicotine replacement therapy such as the patch can still affect your baby.

Before using any nicotine replacement or cessation aids, discuss it with your healthcare provider. You and your doctor can discuss what is more beneficial for you and your baby.

Need Help Putting Down That Cigarette?

Smoking is difficult to quit, but we have faith you can do it! If you are thinking about quitting, be prepared and have a plan:

1. Make a list of all the reasons and benefits of quitting.

Some benefits for your baby:

  • Lowers the risk of your baby being born underweight or too early
  • Increases the amount of nutrients and oxygen your baby will receive
  • Lowers the risk of your baby having health problems
  • Increases the chances your baby will go home with you from the hospital

Some benefits for you:

  • Lowers the risk of future health problems such as heart disease, cancer and lung problems
  • Gives you more energy throughout your pregnancy
  • Saves you money to spend on baby items

2. Change your daily habits.

Instead of smoking after a meal, start a new tradition such as:

  • Going for a walk
  • Reading your favorite book

Instead of smoking when you read the newspaper, try:

  • Drinking a milk shake
  • Eating a small snack
  • Chewing gum

3. Have a strong support system.

Having a friend or family member to call when you are on the verge of smoking can make a difference.

It is helpful if you are around others who do not smoke.

4. Ask your health care provider for resources.

Your healthcare provider is happy to help you find a cessation program or cessation aids such as nicotine patches, gum, inhaler or medications. Some aids your doctor can prescribe and some you can buy over-the-counter. Consult with your doctor before taking any smoking aids. These aids still contain nicotine, which can affect your baby's growth and health.

5. Set a quit date!

This is the day you throw away all cigarettes and ashtrays.

Quick Quitting Tips:

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