Let’s be honest; smoking while pregnant is a big no no. Smoking during any part of your pregnancy can negatively impact you and your baby’s health1. We recommend women quit before they conceive; however, choosing to stop smoking at any point in your pregnancy will give your baby a better chance of a healthy start in life.
How does smoking affect your unborn baby?
Smoking while pregnant affects you and your baby’s health before, during, and after your baby is born. The umbilical cord is your baby’s lifeline. Blood flow through this cord provides your baby with oxygen and the food it needs to grow.
With every puff of a cigarette, the nicotine, carbon monoxide, and numerous other poisons you inhale are carried through your bloodstream and go directly to your baby. The effects of which can be detrimental.
Smoking while pregnant may:
- Lower the amount of oxygen available to you and your growing baby
- Increase your baby’s heart rate
- Increase the risk that your baby is born prematurely and/or born with low birth weight
- Have a negative impact on your baby’s lungs
The more cigarettes you smoke per day, the greater your baby’s chances of developing these and other health problems. Let’s be clear; there is no ‘safe’ level of smoking while pregnant.
How to stop smoking when you’re pregnant?
Many women decide to quit smoking when they fall pregnant or are trying to conceive. The quitting process is complex and demanding, and it’s important that you find ways to manage your stress and cravings. Just as you need support during and after your pregnancy, you need help and support to quit smoking.
Here are some helpful hints of ways to find support during this time:
- Tell your friends and family you’re trying to quit; they can help support you as well as hold you accountable
- Ask them to be patient with you when you’re dealing with withdrawal symptoms
- If they smoke, tell them not to smoke around you and your baby
When the cravings hit:
- Try going for a walk around the block
- Take a hot cup of tea out on the porch and soak in the fresh air
- Try a relaxing bath with a candle or two
- Keep mints or gum on hand, so you have something to keep your mouth preoccupied
- Or throw yourself into baby prep; there’s always something to do
When is it safe to resume smoking after giving birth?
It’s best not to resume smoking after your baby is born. Quitting smoking may be one of the best things you can do for your baby’s health. If you do start smoking again, you can protect your baby by:
- Not smoking around them
- Going to places where smoking isn’t allowed
- Ensuring that your house and car are smoke-free
- Ensure your friends and family don’t smoke around them
What if my partner smokes?
Maybe you don’t smoke, or perhaps you’ve been able to quit before falling pregnant. If you’re not smoking, but your partner or someone you live with is, there is still a risk to your unborn child. Being exposed to second-hand smoke, also known as passive smoking, can be just as dangerous as if you were smoking.
Encourage your partner to quit smoking with your support to ensure the safety and health of yourselves and your baby. Remember, the person quitting will likely go through some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, so try and be patient during this time. Many people find it helpful to stay distracted through this time. Try doing some light exercise together, like a walk, swimming or a yoga class, or find a new TV series to watch or book to read.
If you relapse and smoke again, don’t lose hope. Plan ahead and think about what you will do the next time you get the urge to smoke. We understand it’s not easy, which is why Nictonell provides products and support for those trying to quit.
- Smoking and tobacco and pregnancy – Australian Government Department of Health (link)