Smoking and Pregnancy

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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's never too late to stop smoking. Every cigarette you smoke in pregnancy harms your unborn baby. Cigarettes restrict the essential oxygen supply to your baby, so their heart has to beat harder every time you smoke. Cigarettes also contain over 4,000 chemicals.


If you stop smoking now

Stopping smoking will benefit both you and your baby immediately. Carbon monoxide and chemicals will clear from your body and oxygen levels will return to normal. If you stop smoking:

  • you will have less morning sickness and fewer complications in pregnancy
  • you are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby
  • you will reduce the risk of stillbirth
  • you will cope better with the birth
  • your baby will cope better with any birth complications
  • your baby is less likely to be born too early and have to face the additional breathing, feeding and health problems which often go with being premature
  • your baby is less likely to be born underweight and have a problem keeping warm: babies of women who smoke are, on average, 200g (about 8oz) lighter than other babies, and may have problems during and after labour and are more prone to infection
  • you will reduce the risk of cot death, also called sudden infant death

Stopping smoking will also benefit your baby later in life. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from illnesses that need hospital treatment, such as asthma.

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


Second-hand smoke

If your partner or anyone else who lives with you smokes, their smoke can affect you and the baby both before and after birth. You may also find it more difficult to quit if someone around you smokes.

Second-hand smoke can cause low birth weight and cot death. Babies whose parents smoke are more likely to be admitted to hospital for bronchitis and pneumonia during the first year of life. More than 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital every year because of the effects of second-hand smoke.


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