Of all the things to cut out while you are pregnant, smoking really needs to be at the very top of your list. Unfortunately, it's also likely to be one of the hardest things to give up.
The first step is to educate yourself on the risks that smoking will pose to you and your baby's health. There is no safe level of smoking during pregnancy.
When you smoke a cigarette you're breathing in over 4,000 chemicals. None of which are doing you or your baby any favours. These chemicals travel straight to your lungs and into your bloodstream. This blood then flows via the umbilical cord to the placenta and directly into your baby's body.
If that visual isn t enough alone, read on to discover what quitting smoking will do for you and the health of your baby.
The problem with smoking during pregnancy
Other than the obvious risks that smoking cigarettes poses to your health, it's the health risks to your baby and your pregnancy that raise the greatest concerns.
If you smoke during pregnancy the risk of serious complications is significantly increased. The most serious smoking related complications to you and your baby include:
- Miscarriage and Stillbirth
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weigh
- An increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Increased risk of respiratory (breathing) problems
- Increased risk of birth defects
It's the nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarettes which are mostly responsible for smoking-related complications. These chemicals work together by narrowing the blood vessels in the umbilical cord and reducing the baby's oxygen supply. To cope with this, the unborn baby's heart needs to beat faster to supply their body with the oxygen they need.
Cigarette smoke can also prevent essential nutrients from reaching your baby. It can also increase their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and becoming overweight or obese in their adult life.
Even if you are not a smoker, you still need to be aware of the risks of passive smoking. Passive smoking is when you inhale cigarette smoke from someone else smoking and contaminating the air around you. It poses the same health risks as regular smoking, so while you are pregnant, it's important to avoid being around people who smoke.
Quitting smoking for pregnancy
Ideally, you need to quit smoking before you conceive.
If your pregnancy is a surprise and you have been smoking since conception, it's not too late. But you should quit as soon as possible. The sooner you give up smoking cigarettes, the better off your baby will be. And the healthier you'll be too.
Quitting smoking can be tough. Nicotine is incredibly addictive and although you may really want to quit it's likely to be difficult.
If you are finding it hard on your own to stop smoking, talk to your healthcare professional about ways that can make it easier. You can also jump onto the Huggies Forum and chat to other expecting mums who have already quit.
The benefits of quitting smoking for pregnancy
Quitting at any time during your pregnancy will reduce the harmful effects of smoking on your baby. And you'll gain health benefits too.
By quitting smoking you are:
- Less likely to miscarry
- Less likely to have an ectopic pregnancy
- Less likely to go into labour prematurely
- More likely to increase your lung capacity and efficiency. This will become more and more important as your uterus grows and starts to push up against your lungs
- Have an easier delivery with your baby
- By quitting smoking your baby is more likely to:
- Be born at a healthy weight
- Settle and feed better
- Be discharged home earlier and need less care in hospital
- Not have a cleft lip or cross eyes
Remember that every cigarette you don t smoke while pregnant is good for your baby.
Last Published* May, 2023
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.