How To Quit Smoking During Pregnancy

Can You Just Cut Down On Smoking Or Do You Have To Quit

Baby Your Baby Quitting Smoking During Pregnancy

You may think that light or mild cigarettes are safer choices during pregnancy. This is not true. Or you may want to cut down rather than quit smoking altogether. Its true that the less you smoke, the better for your baby. But quitting is best.

The sooner you quit smoking during pregnancy, the healthier you and your baby can be. Its best to quit smoking before getting pregnant. But quitting any time during pregnancy can have a positive effect on your babys life.

On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of cancer and other diseases, like heart disease. When you quit smoking, you never have to go outside and look for a place to smoke. And quitting smoking can help you have:

  • Cleaner teeth, fresher breath and a better sense of taste
  • Fewer stains on your fingers
  • Fewer skin wrinkles
  • More energy to be more active

If you need help to quit smoking, tell your health care provider.

Pregnancy Complications From Smoking

Some of the pregnancy complications more commonly experienced by women who smoke include:

  • ectopic pregnancy this is pregnancy outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube
  • fetal death death of the baby in the uterus
  • spontaneous abortion known as miscarriage
  • problems with the placenta, including early detachment from the uterine wall and blocking the cervical opening
  • premature rupture of the membranes
  • premature labour.

Reaching The Pregnant Smoker As Soon As Possible

Programs should also be developed that reach the pregnant smoker as early as possible in the pregnancy and that follow her throughout the pregnancy to promote and support sustained smoking cessation for the remainder of the pregnancy. Women who have the most difficulty stopping smoking often experience multiple problems and lack resources. Providing access to obstetric care as early as possible and embedding smoking cessation interventions in a comprehensive approach to these women’s problems would appear to have the greatest chance of success. However, more intervention is not necessarily better.

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What Happens If You Smoke In Early Pregnancy

Smoking in early pregnancy deprives your developing baby of the oxygen they need to grow and develop something babies do a lot of early in pregnancy.

Even smoking prior to conception can contribute to serious birth defects. In one long-term study, a mom’s smoking before pregnancy was associated with a 40 percent increase in gastroschisis, where the infants intestines protrude through a defect in the abdominal wall.

An expecting dad’s smoking prior to conception can also be harmful to a baby. One study found that a dad’s smoking increased the baby’s risk of birth defects including abnormalities of the limbs, heart defects, and neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

If you smoked before you knew you were pregnant, don’t panic just quit. Quitting smoking before 15 weeks of pregnancy offers your baby the most benefits. In one study, pregnant smokers who quit in the first trimester lowered their risk of delivering preterm and small-for-gestational-age babies to a level similar to that of pregnant nonsmokers.

Smoking Pregnancy And Babies

You Can Quit! How to Stop Smoking During Pregnancy

Most people know that smoking causes cancer and other major health problems. And smoking while youre pregnant can cause serious problems, too. Your baby could be born too early, have a birth defect, or die from sudden infant death syndrome . Even being around cigarette smoke can cause health problems for you and your baby.1

Its best to quit smoking before you get pregnant. But if youre already pregnant, quitting can still help protect you and your baby from health problems. Its never too late to quit smoking.2

If you smoked and had a healthy pregnancy in the past, theres no guarantee that your next pregnancy will be healthy. When you smoke during pregnancy, you put your health and your babys health at risk.3

Smoking can cause fertility problems for you or your partner. Women who smoke have more trouble getting pregnant than women who dont smoke. In men, smoking can damage sperm and contribute to impotence . Both problems can make it harder for a man to father a baby when he and his partner are ready.3, 4

If you smoke during pregnancy, you are more likely to give birth too early. A baby born 3 weeks or more before your due date is premature.5 Babies born too early miss important growth that happens in the womb during the final weeks and months of pregnancy.6

The earlier a baby is born, the greater the chances for serious health problems or death. Premature babies can have:6,7,8

  • Low birth weight

When you stop smoking:1

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Benefits Of Stopping Smoking In Pregnancy

Stopping smoking will help both you and your baby immediately. Harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide, and other damaging chemicals will clear from your body. When you stop smoking:

  • you will reduce the risk of complications in pregnancy and birth
  • you are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby
  • you will reduce the risk of stillbirth
  • your baby is less likely to be born too early and have to face the breathing, feeding and health problems that often go with being premature
  • your baby is less likely to be born with a low birth weight. Babies of smokers are, on average, 200g lighter than other babies, which can cause problems during and after labour. For example, they are more likely to have problems keeping warm and are more likely to get infections
  • you will reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome , also known as “cot death”.

Stopping smoking now will also help your baby later in life. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from asthma and other serious illnesses that may need hospital treatment.

The sooner you stop smoking, the better. But even if you stop in the last few weeks of your pregnancy this will benefit you and your baby.

Smoking And Your Unborn Baby

Protecting your baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life. It can be difficult to stop smoking, but it’s never too late to quit.

Every cigarette you smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, so smoking when you are pregnant harms your unborn baby. Cigarettes can restrict the essential oxygen supply to your baby. As a result, their heart must beat harder every time you smoke.

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What Can You Do To Stop Smoking

Get ready.

  • If you’re not pregnant yet, choose a quit date that works for you. If you are pregnant, stop smoking right away. If you can’t stop yet, try to cut down as much as you can. Talk to your doctor about a program that can help you stop smoking.
  • Get rid of your cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters. Clean your house and clothes to get rid of the smoke smell.
  • If you live with someone who smokes, discuss quitting together. If this is not an option, talk to the person about not smoking around you. When you can, avoid places where others are smoking.

Make a plan for quitting.

  • Decide what times are the hardest for you, such as when you are restless or around others who smoke. Plan how you will handle your cravings during these times. For information on how to deal with cravings, see Quick Tips: What to Do When You Crave Nicotine.
  • Change your routine. Avoid those things that make you reach for a cigarette.
  • Find ways to cope. For example, take a walk after dinner instead of having a cigarette.
  • Find ways to cut down on stress in the first few weeks of quitting.
  • Talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement or medicines.

Get support.

  • Ask loved ones or people who used to smoke for support and tips.
  • Get counselling. People who use telephone, group, or one-on-one counselling are much more likely to stop smoking.
  • Join a support group for people who smoke.

Where Can You Find Information And Support

How to help pregnant women quit smoking, advice for healthcare professionals

If you’re ready to quit smoking, congratulations. You are taking an important step for your health and for your baby’s health. You can use this website to find more information about quitting smoking:

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The 5as Or 3as Approach

The recommended sequence for delivering tobacco treatment interventions in clinical settings, including maternal care settings, is known as the 5As approach. The 5As should be used at the first antenatal appointment and during subsequent appointments4,11,30. The approach can also be shortened to Very Brief Advice or the 3As 4,11,12. The emphasis for the 3As model is for the maternal health team to ask and document the smoking status of all pregnant women, to provide brief advice to women about the importance of smoking cessation and act to support cessation by referring pregnant women who smoke to available quit-smoking services either within the maternity care team or community who will then provide evidence-based quit smoking assessment, assistance, and follow-up . We review here the key elements of the 5As delivery in maternity care settings.

3As approach for smoking cessation in maternal health settings


  • I have never smoked or have smoked < 100 cigarettes in my lifetime
  • I stopped smoking before I found out I was pregnant, and I am not smoking now
  • I stopped smoking after I found out I was pregnant, and I am not smoking now
  • I smoke some now, but I have cut down on the number of cigarettes I smoke since I found out I was pregnant and
  • I smoke regularly now, about the same as before I found out I was pregnant.



  • On a scale from 010, what is your intention to quit smoking for good
  • On a scale from 010, how important is it to you to quit smoking?
  • Assist

    Get Support From Family

    It’s far easier to quit smoking if other people around you aren’t smoking too. Its also important to avoid secondhand smoke, which can be just as harmful to a fetus.

    “If there are other members of the family smoking, everyone needs to stop and quit together. Its very difficult for one individual to give up if the rest of the family are smoking,” Livingstone says. “Pregnancy is a window of opportunity for the whole family to make changes.”

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    Ways To Stop Smoking In Pregnancy

    Youre pregnant or youre trying to get pregnant.

    Andyou smoke.

    You probably already know that smoking and pregnancy are not a good combination. But that doesnt mean its easy to give up.

    Smoking is, of course, highly addictive and giving up while feeling the pressures and fears that often come with a pregnancy is very daunting.

    This challenge of stopping smoking is made even harder when youre faced with a number of harmful myths which provide false information about the dangers of smoking, the safety of giving up smoking, and the methods you can use to stop reaching for the cigarettes.

    So in the first half of this article weve put together a list of common myths about smoking and pregnancy and explained why theyre not true. And in the second half we share a number of safe ways to quit smoking while pregnant.

    It is hard. But it is not impossible.

    You can do this!

    Smoking During Pregnancy Can Cause Problems For Your Child In Later Life

    How To Quit Smoking While Pregnant (The Healthy And Happy Pregnancy ...

    Smoking during pregnancy can impair your childs health for years to come. Health effects may include:

    • higher risk of asthma
    • low birth weight, which is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in adulthood
    • up to three times the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy .
    • increased risk of being overweight and obese in childhood
    • increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder .

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    How Long Should I Stop Smoking Before Pregnancy

    According to the findings of several studies, people who smoke have an increased risk of infertility compared to people who dont smoke. It is vital to refrain from smoking for at least three months before attempting to start a family in order to ensure that the sperm is in good health at the time the baby is conceived.

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    Promoting Cessation Among Women Considering Childbearing

    Programs and providers should promote smoking cessation among women who are considering childbearing by shifting the emphasis on cessation before or as close to the beginning of pregnancy as possible. This suggestion is consistent with recommendations for preconception counselling recommended a decade ago by an expert panel on the content of prenatal care. Cessation before pregnancy offers the best protection for the infant and maximises the possibility that the woman would integrate intrinsic motives about quitting for her own health with the motivation to quit for the baby’s health. Intrinsic motivation may prove more effective for sustained behaviour change. Smoking cessation interventions included as part of family planning programs, in the distribution of various methods of birth control, and added to pregnancy testing done at home or in the clinic office would represent some potential opportunities to reach women smokers and their partners before pregnancy. In addition, if we can incorporate messages that focus on the health of both mother and baby, we may be able to create the type of quitting that will be more durable postpartum. Certainly this intervention point may work best for the population of women who plan to get pregnant. The planners, however, in all likelihood would be the women who are more likely to quit later in the pregnancy anyway.

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    Developing Different Interventions For The Continuing Smoker

    A different set of interventions should be developed for those women who continue to smoke during the later stages of the pregnancy. Intervention efforts should promote various behaviours like smoking reduction, abstinence during critical periods immediately before the birthing process, increasing other health protection behaviours like vitamins and exercise, and an emphasis on postpartum cessation. Many women who continue to smoke are concerned about the health of the baby but find stopping smoking very difficult to achieve. Some have had prior births with no or few serious consequences from smoking. Others are overwhelmed by emotional, financial, and family problems. Continuing to work with these women to achieve the possible rather than the optimal can contribute to the overall goals of protecting the baby and promoting cessation. Harm reduction strategies are appropriate here and can facilitate movement toward the optimal goals.

    Stop Smoking Advisers In Pregnancy

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    The most effective way to quit smoking for many people is to get help from your local NHS Stop Smoking Services. People who give up with support and advice from a Stop Smoking adviser are four times more likely to succeed than those relying on willpower alone! Trained advisers will offer you one-to-one help.

    Depending on where you live, there may be a Stop Smoking adviser who is able to come to your home or talk to you on the phone. As well as your local Stop Smoking clinic, you may also be able to get this kind of specialist advice from your local pharmacy.

    Your Stop Smoking Service may offer one-to-one or group sessions. You can bring a friend or partner if you find it helpful.

    At your first meeting the adviser will ask questions to get to know you. They will want to know how long you have been smoking, how much you smoke and when you have your first cigarette of the day. They will also ask about whether people in your household smoke.

    Together you can work out a plan for how to stop smoking and cope with the withdrawal symptoms. The adviser will help you deal with your physical addiction to nicotine and will show you how to manage cravings and stress without reaching for a cigarette.

    Even if you have failed to quit many times in the past, the advisers will be keen to help. They are used to working with people who are finding it a struggle. They have a range of ways to give expert advice, information and support to help you stop smoking for good.

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    Addressing Tobacco Use In Maternity Care Settings

    Given the importance of tobacco use on pregnancy outcomes, all the healthcare professionals, especially obstetricians and midwives, must be prepared to identify and support pregnant smokers with quitting using evidence-based treatments as a standard of care in maternity care settings3,5,11,12,46,48.

    How Does Smoking Affect Your Pregnancy

    Smoking during pregnancy may increase the risk of:

    If your baby or child is exposed to smoke after birth, he or she will be more prone to illness and breathing problems.

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    Know What To Do When It Gets Tough

    Triggers, cravings, and withdrawal are some of the biggest challenges smokers face when quitting.

    • Know what makes you want to smoke and learn ways to avoid these triggers so you can stay smokefree.
    • Make a list of things you can do when youre having a craving. It can set you up for smokefree success.
    • Withdrawal symptoms usually last for a few days or weeks. Be prepared to deal by building healthy coping skills, exploring quit methods, or creating an exercise plan.

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