Smoking and Pregnancy
When you or the people around you smoke, your baby smokes too.
A smoke-free environment is best for both you and your developing baby.
When you smoke, your baby gets less oxygen and nutrients
This can cause your baby to grow more slowly and gain less weight in your womb. Babies with a lower-than-average birth weight tend to have more health problems. And the more you smoke, the higher the risk that your baby will have complications during the perinatal period (just before, during and just after birth). This is true for babies exposed to second-hand smoke too.
Cigarette smoking exposes your baby to over 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke
Seventy of these are associated with cancer.
Exposure to tobacco smoke affects your baby for life
Your baby may have learning problems, more ear infections and more colds and breathing problems. Being born small can affect your baby’s health into adulthood.
Smoking during pregnancy will increase the risks to your own health too
For example, you have a greater chance of having a miscarriage than a non-smoker.
Second-hand smoke is just as bad
Second-hand smoke contains the same toxic chemicals and carcinogens that smokers inhale. Children regularly exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to suffer damage to their lungs and to develop breathing problems such as asthma. When you breathe in second-hand smoke, you have a greater risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, breathing problems and irritation of the eyes, lungs and throat.
If you are currently smoking, the best step you can take is to quit! Your baby will get more oxygen and nutrients, which will help increase the baby’s birth weight and health. You will lower your blood pressure and heart rate. You can talk to your doctor about ways to quit that are most appropriate while you are pregnant. If you have trouble quitting, ask for help.
Avoid second-hand smoke. Make your home and car smoke-free spaces. Ask your partner, family members and friends not to smoke around you. When you are with people who want to smoke, ask them to smoke outside. Explain to them that you and your baby need smokefree air.
Common Questions About Smoking and Pregnancy
I only smoke a few cigarettes a day. Should I still quit?
Yes. All tobacco smoke is bad for both you and your baby. The sooner you quit completely, the better.
Don’t some mothers who smoke while they’re pregnant still have healthy babies?
Smoking during pregnancy is a gamble that puts your child at risk.
Will I gain extra weight if I quit now?
It is possible that if you stop smoking you may eat more to replace your oral habit. Chewing sugar-free gum might help. If you do gain a few pounds, don’t worry. Being physically active and making healthy food choices will help you lose the extra weight after your baby is born. You’ll also feel great knowing you gave your baby the best possible start in life.
Is it okay for me to smoke after the baby is born?
The best choice for you and your baby is to stay smoke-free. If you start smoking again, you are putting your baby at risk from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke and your own health at risk from the effects of smoking. By staying smoke-free you’re protecting both you and your baby from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.
What can I do to help me quit?
Some people find that picking a quit day helps. On that day, you throw away your cigarettes, lighters, matches and ashtrays. In anticipation of the quit day, you can reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke per day. Set a limit and stick to it. When you feel the urge to smoke, try chewing gum, eating a piece of fruit, calling a friend or going for a walk. Stop-smoking support groups may also help.
Call the pan-Canadian toll-free quitline to talk to a trained cessation specialist. They can help you develop a plan and answer your questions about quitting. The specialist can also provide a choice of services tailored to your needs, including self-help materials, a referral list of programs in your community, as well as one-on-one counselling over the phone.
For more information, visit Go Smoke Free or call the pan-Canadian toll-free quitline number 1-866-366-3667.