Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for your baby
We know that it can be difficult to stop smoking. But we also know that you want to give your baby the best possible start in life.
The risks of smoking during pregnancy are serious, from premature delivery to increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or sudden infant death. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you and your partner can do to help your baby develop healthily during pregnancy and beyond
No matter what stage you're at in your pregnancy, it's never too late to stop smoking. It can be difficult, but smoking is much more harmful to your baby than any stress quitting may bring. There is a lot of help and support available so register with Smokefree, or you can contact your local Stop Smoking Service for more information. Start4Life also has lots of helpful tips and advice for a healthy pregnancy.
It's difficult to imagine when you can't see your baby, but smoking when you're pregnant is like blowing smoke in your baby's face. When you smoke a cigarette, the poisons from the cigarette smoke are passed on to your baby.
Not only is this very distressing for your baby, but the exposure to these poisons can last up to 15 minutes at a time. It's like putting your baby in a smoke-filled room for 15 minutes.
This happens for each and every cigarette you smoke, so cutting down on your smoking rather than quitting completely will still have a harmful effect on your baby's wellbeing.
When you smoke you breathe in more than 4,000 chemicals from the cigarette. The smoke goes from your lungs into your bloodstream. That blood flows to your placenta and umbilical cord, right into your baby's tiny body. This causes your baby to struggle for oxygen.
One of the chemicals found in cigarettes is carbon monoxide, a dangerous chemical that gets into your bloodstream.
This restricts the supply of oxygen that's essential for your baby's healthy growth and development. This causes your baby's tiny heart to pump even harder.
Your baby's tiny body is completely dependent on yours, so if you smoke throughout your pregnancy, your baby will go through nicotine withdrawal once it is born. This can make your baby stressed and irritable and it may be difficult to stop them crying.
Smoking while you are pregnant also increases the risk of your baby dying from cot death by at least 25%.
Second-hand smoke is very dangerous for anyone exposed to it, but it is particularly dangerous for children - read the facts here.
Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks and meningitis. Last year in the UK, 300,000 GP visits and 9,500 hospital admissions were caused by children breathing in other people's cigarette smoke.
Yes. While nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes, it is relatively harmless. Almost all of the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic.
Nicotine replacement therapy has been widely used for many years to help people stop smoking and is licensed for use in pregnancy.
Many people find e-cigarettes helpful for stopping smoking. While they are not risk-free, e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than smoking. The liquid and vapour contain some potentially harmful chemicals also found in cigarette smoke, but at much lower levels.
Little research has been conducted into the safety of e-cigarettes in pregnancy, but we know that e-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, which is the most harmful part of smoking for developing babies.
The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, which includes the Royal College of Midwives and leading UK baby charities, provides the following advice:
- If you are pregnant, licensed nicotine replacement therapy products such as patches and gum are the recommended option to help you stop smoking. However, if you find using an e-cigarette helpful for quitting and staying smokefree, it is much safer for you and your baby than continuing to smoke.
Find answers to common questions about e-cigarettes in pregnancy.
You can get free expert support from a trained adviser at your local Stop Smoking Service to give you the best chance of quitting for good.
Ask your GP or midwife to refer you, or find your local Stop Smoking Service.
Find out how secondhand smoke affects your family.
Quit now - for you and your baby
When you stop smoking, both you and your baby will feel the benefits immediately. Carbon monoxide and other chemicals will quickly leave your body. This means that there'll be more oxygen in your blood, making you and your baby much healthier.
The NHS offers lots of specialist free support to help you stop smoking in pregnancy. You can ask your midwife, GP or pharmacy team for more information, or get in touch with your local NHS Stop Smoking Service. Nearly half of pregnant women who set a quit date with their local Stop Smoking Service go on to quit successfully.
Expert help online...
There's lots of help for you online. You can chat to one of our friendly advisers online, or share your experiences and tips with other people who are quitting smoking by visiting our Facebook page.
... And over the phone
The NHS Smoking Helpline offers specialist support over the phone. To speak to one of our friendly advisers, just call 0300 123 1044
Pregnancy success stories
Laura quit with help from her NHS Stop Smoking adviser
Laura got the extra support she needed from Smokefree.
Jenny quit using the NHS Smoking Helpline
Jenny quit once she found out she was pregnant.
Victoria talks about why NRT worked for her
Prescription medicines really helped Victoria to kick the habit.
How smoking affects your body and your health
Read about the effects smoking has on your body and find out how your body recovers once you quit.
Start4Life provides health advice to pregnant women and new mothers, including tips to support and encourage healthy lifestyle choices. For more information about keeping healthy during pregnancy, visit www.nhs.uk/start4life