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Smoking in Pregnancy

smoking in pregnancy

We know more and more these days about the effects of cigarette smoking on pregnancy. For instance did you know that cigarette smoke contains 2000 components. Some of the most harmful for pregnant women and their babies is thought to be nicotine, carbon monoxide and cyanide. These substances have been found to cross the placenta and reach the baby. One of the most concerning effects of smoking during pregnancy is that the baby’s growth is restricted. A baby of a woman who smokes weighs on average 170 to 200 grams lighter. The more a woman smokes the greater the weight reduction. Having a smaller baby is not a positive thing. A smaller baby does not mean that the birth will be easier. The reason babies are smaller is that cigarette smoking restricts blood vessels therefore reducing the amount of nutrients and oxygen reaching the baby. This leads to a lower birth weight and a baby more prone to becoming ill after birth.

Research has found that potential effects of smoking during pregnancy include an increased chance of genetic abnormalities. There has been associations made between pregnant women smoking and increased chance of cleft lip, cleft palate, problems with bowel, eyes, ears and spinal cord. There are also increased abnormalities found with the placentas. The effects of smoking goes beyond the birth. There have been links made between women smoking during pregnancy and their children developing respiratory problems, such as asthma, later in childhood.

The health benefits for stopping smoking are immense, this particularly true for pregnant women. Women need support to stop smoking from their families and from health professionals.

I am finding it difficult to stop smoking. I have managed to reduce the amount I smoke, will this have a positive effect?

You are not alone. Around 20 per cent of pregnant women smoke. Of these women, over half smoke more than 10 cigarettes per day. Only about four per cent of women who smoke manage to stop smoking in the second half of their pregnancy. It is known that if you are able to stop smoking in the first half of your pregnancy, that by the time of birth the baby will be close to normal size.

However there is no safe level of smoking. Woman are encouraged to quit. Even reducing the amount of cigarettes smoked, still exposes the baby to harmful substances. But if you find that you are unable to stop smoking completely - it is important to remember ‘the less you smoke, the less effects on the baby’.

Can smoking affect my pregnancy?

Yes, smoking can affect pregnancy. Smoking increases heart rate, increases blood pressure and depresses the nervous system. This not only effects the baby but causes increased complications for the mother. The increased rate of chest infections and blood clotting disorders is of particular concern.

Smoking during pregnancy also increases the risk of ectopic (OK) pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, problems with the placenta, vomiting requiring hospitalisation, bleeding during pregnancy, polyhydramnios (OK) (too much amniotic fluid), thrush, urinary tract infections and premature birth. Again the more the woman smokes, the higher the risk of complications.

Where can I get help to stop smoking in pregnancy?

We know it is very difficult to stop smoking. Discuss your concerns regarding smoking during pregnancy with your midwife or doctor. They should be able to provide you with information and support about quitting. You can also call the Quitline on 131 848. They can send you a quit package or put you on to a specially trained counsellor for support.I have heard that smoking can cause SIDS?

The evidence is fairly clear on this point - the risk Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is increased if the mother smokes during her pregnancy. There is also evidence to show that if the father smokes while the mother is pregnant, SIDS also is increased. Ideally both parents would stop smoking during pregnancy, but the less you smoke the less the risk of SIDS.

After birth it is important to keep babies in a smoke free environment. Stop people from smoking in the house, car or anywhere near the baby. By following these simple steps it helps to reduce the incidence of SIDS. For more information contact your midwife, doctor or National SIDS Council of Australia.

Reference List

  • Ceida. (OK) (1997). [Smoking during pregnancy]. Handout.
  • National SIDS Council. (1997). Reducing the risk of sudden infant death  syndrome (SIDS). Author: Melbourne.
  • Palmer, J. (1995) Maternal cigarette smoking: The effects. Midwifery Matters, 9 (2), 18-21.
Jane Palmer is a mother, birth activist and midwife in private practice located in Sydney, Australia. With additional qualifications as a childbirth educator and lactation consultant, Jane works to improve pregnancy, birth and parenting options for families.

Comments

50 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

carly henry
Jan 1, 2011 6:27pm [ 1 ]

hi i have just found out that i am 5 wks pregnant. I have stopped smoking since i found out but wondered if this is any good and wont cause me any problems by just stopping without any help to quit as i am aware that i cant use patches when pregnant. Have i done the right thing or should i some how get help to stop the cravings do you think?

Jane Palmer
Jan 2, 2011 8:53am [ 2 ]

Hi Carly - It is fantastic news that you have stopped smoking since you've found out your pregnant. Stopping smoking without the use of nicotine patches is the best way to go as your baby isn't being exposed to nicotine through the crucial developement phase. However giving up smoking is very challenging. Seeking professional help is a great idea. Why don't you call the Quit Line on 131 848 or 13 7848

What is the Quitline? Quitline is a telephone information and advice or counselling service for people who want to quit smoking. You can phone the Quitline on 131 848 confidentially from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call only. When you call the Quitline you can arrange to have the Quit Book mailed to you and if you want to talk to someone about quitting, they will give you information on: * The best way for you to quit * Coping with withdrawal symptoms * Quit courses and details of local organisations which provide individual help and counselling.

mildred
Jan 2, 2011 7:19pm [ 3 ]

It is very hard to quit smoking but I am trying. It's not fair to the baby.

Anne
Feb 25, 2011 1:31am [ 4 ]

I am 15 weeks pregnant, I quit smoking at 6 weeks. I also suffer from anxiety and depression and used smoking as my coping mechanism. I am finding myself stressed and basically an emotional wreck everyday now. I do not know if I can keep up not smoking, as I feel it's doing more damage then good. I only smoked about 6-8 smokes a day previously. I am wondering if, say, I started smoking again after 20 wks would my baby be less likely to develope most problems because majority of the forming has been done in the previous weeks? Smoking would be kept to a minimum of course.. I will try to get through it without starting again but would like to know..

Jane Palmer
Feb 27, 2011 9:56pm [ 5 ]

Congratulations Anne on quiting smoking at 6 weeks. Unfortunately smoking at any stage of the pregnancy has a negative impact on your pregnancy and your baby. Are you getting support from your midwife or doctor for quitting smoking? You can support from the following organisations www.quitbecauseyoucan.org.au and www.QuitCoach.org.au

Katerina
Mar 21, 2011 10:58pm [ 6 ]

Hi (:

I'm katerina and I am13 years old and i am doing a project on smoking is bad for pregeneant women and i have to say this really helped my investigaition alot! thanks :) , it's really shocking about what can happen, my mom is 2 months pregnant and she smokes maybe twice a week, will it harm the baby? o.o'

Apr 1, 2011 2:23pm [ 7 ]

Hi Katerina - I am glad this article was helpful for your assignment. Smoking at any time is not good for the baby.

Geraldine
May 4, 2011 1:39am [ 8 ]

Hi,

18 weeks pregnant and yes I am still smoking. Any help or advice is needed. I am 39 years old, mother of two children 21 and 19, I managed to quit will pregnant with them but with this one, i just can't seem to put the smokes down.

Cathy
May 4, 2011 4:07am [ 9 ]

Hi.(:

Im Cathy, and i was doing a project in English about Why smoking should be banned. This has really helped in the part of pregnancy. My aunt is 5 months pregnant, but smokes at least a pack a day...What are the defects of the baby, if she keeps smoking during the pregnancy? -Thanks!

May 4, 2011 9:40pm [ 10 ]

Hi Geraldine - It can be really difficult to stop smoking but the rewards are worth it. You don't need to do it alone - the government have lots of resources available. You could try www.quitnow.gov.au

May 4, 2011 9:43pm [ 11 ]

Hi Cathy - smoking in pregnancy increases the risks to both mother and baby (you can read about some of the risks in the article above).

Samantha
May 21, 2011 11:42pm [ 12 ]

Hi,

I have recently found out that I am pregnant, not sure how far along I am and I am still Smoking, although I have managed to reduse the intake by half... I was told that stopping completely can shock the baby... Is this true??? If so what should I do???

May 22, 2011 7:54am [ 13 ]

Hi Samantha - Congratulations on your pregnancy. The best thing you can do for your pregnancy is to stop completely. Stopping completely will not shock the baby - the baby will benefit greatly if you stop smoking. You can seek help from www.quitnow.gov.au

tara
Jun 24, 2011 9:32pm [ 14 ]

Hi,

I have just found out that i am 6 weeks pregnant and have stopped smoking immediately. Have the past 6 weeks of smoking affected my baby alot? I know the first 6 weeks are very early on but i am so worried about the damage i could have already caused. Thanks

Sammy
Jun 29, 2011 12:10pm [ 15 ]

Hi, Im 9 weeks today... As soon as I found out I was pregnant I changed my smokes to the lowest smokes whites.. I smoke 2 a day.. I suffer from depression as I have lost 2 babys in miscarge before.. I have cut down a great deal and my doctor is very proud of me. I feel happy that I have done this. But everyone puts so much power into me trying to quite that last two. Which makes me want to smoke more I cry everyday cos I feel like I'm doing the wrong thing and I don't feel happy.. What can I do. I'm a ballet teacher and I carnt stop smoking.. Like I said there are lightest ones u can get and it's only a couple a day and some times I have none a day.. Depends how I feel.. Help me as I have completely got to happiness left in me,. My husban doesn't know I smoke still cos he will be so mad at me.. He hates smoking.. Thanks Samantha.,!!)

Jun 29, 2011 7:59pm [ 16 ]

Hi Samantha - are you able to talk through your feelings with someone you trust? If you do not have anyone - you could try the smoking support numbers above. Another strategy is to make an appointment to see a psychologist. You don't have to do this alone.

Jul 12, 2011 9:21pm [ 17 ]

I have 8 weeks today, and i been smoking only half ciggerates daily. I know that is still bad, But it that better then actually smoking more then what i usually do? I go days without smoking but my partner is a smoker and i sometimes just have one or two drags to get the craving away and then im okay.. Is that okay?

Jul 13, 2011 7:34am [ 18 ]

Hi Sabrina - it is great you are trying to cut down and I know that it is difficult to stop smoking. However it's far better to stop all together for you and your developing baby. Are you able to talk to your partner about both of you stopping smoking? If he is unwilling perhaps he can go outside to smoke so you aren't tempted. Don't forget you can get support to help you stop smoking from www.quitnow.gov.au

Kellie
Sep 13, 2011 11:50pm [ 19 ]

Surely having only a few drags or half a cigarette a day couldnt be too harmful, I mean, If im feeling stressed after work I find having just a puff or 2 helps alot.. Afterall, its also not healthy for pregnant women to feel too much stress. I think there is just too much paranoia surrounding this subject these days.

Monica
Sep 18, 2011 11:58am [ 20 ]

Hi I am 6 months pregnant amd I was wondering if smokin one ciggaret every other day would affect my baby I quit as soon as I found out I was pregnant (4weeks) but these past weeks ive been sneaking one everyother day is that bad ?? :/

Sep 24, 2011 7:44am [ 21 ]

Hi Kellie and Monica - unfortunately the evidence is very clear smoking is harmful to you, your baby and your pregnancy. Quitting smoking is very difficult - you could try contacting the Quitnow mentioned in a previous post.

Alex
Nov 10, 2011 11:08pm [ 22 ]

Hey Jane, I'm really amazed at this article that you created. I used some of the key points on the affects of smoking during pregnancy for my year 10 Health and Human Development subject. It's a really good article and I'm happy to see that you are trying to promote not smoking and helping others overcome this. Keep up the good work!

Maree
Nov 25, 2011 7:47pm [ 23 ]

hi i am only about 5 to 6 weeks and i smoke and i cant seem to quit does anyone have any advise???? please HELP!!!!!!

Dec 4, 2011 8:08am [ 24 ]

Hi Maree - talk you to your midwife or doctor for some information and support to help you quit smoking. The earlier you start - the greater the benefits for you and your baby.

Jessica
Jan 12, 2012 10:36pm [ 25 ]

Hi Im 10 weeks pregnant now and have been smoking the whole time. I've been cutting down as much as i can but seem to always sneak back up to about 15 a day strength 4. I feel so guilty and increasing worried that Im going to do serious harm but i just cant seem to control it.

gehan
Jan 24, 2012 8:56pm [ 26 ]

I'm 8months pregnant and I smoke 10 cigi's a day cant seem to stop I crave smoke all day every day.... I have lately been smoking more I am so worried and scared though for the baby

Deena
Feb 9, 2012 10:28am [ 27 ]

Hello, this article was amazing! Im 8 weekz and found,out at,4 weeks, I didnt give uo stratwe away but now im on ma 4th day without a smoke after being a pak,a day for nerly 10 years. What helps me is, every time I feel like a smoke I google,the effects it,has on my,baby. Really helps me!

Margret
Feb 26, 2012 3:30am [ 28 ]

hi, im 35weeks, i found out i was pregnant when i was 5months, so b4 dhat i had quite afew drinks nd smokes. I slowed down and came to a stop maybe at around 6or7 months. Buht i ghet depressed veryy easily i founnd out :( nd well only once in awhile ill have a feww puffs. I use to smoke like a chimney, buht now (once in awhile) i cant even have a full ciggy. My last cig was last week. Before that maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago. thats how often i have smoke. I just wanna know will it harm my baby next time i have another puff? And how serious. My last ultrasound i had nd my baby was fine. I just wanna be sure. And please dont tell me to see my midwife or so, thats why i ask you.

Kim
Mar 7, 2012 6:12pm [ 29 ]

Hi, Jane this site is great and really encouraging! We plan to get pregnant in the near future so I've decided to quit beforehand, now!! ''Deena I like idea of visiting these sites to help, il def be doing that anytime I'm tempted!'' I also suffer from anxiety and have to stop the meds too so its not going to be easy but I know it's going to be easier to go through any stress of quitting now before I have a baby to think about too , and plan to combat the anxiety with exercise and yoga. Il also have the support of my parter who hates smoking and would never have a child with someone that does. Good luck to those trying to quit and wish you all healthy babies :)

Alisha
Jun 22, 2012 12:47pm [ 30 ]

Hi, i am writing this to all giving up smoking...great job..hang in there..you will feel so much better for it..if you have trouble with anxiety go to your chemist and get braur anxiety spray..its natural and it can not harm you or your baby..and it works:) i have used it for sleep and moods swings with my 13yo duaghter..you can also get bach flower lollies and sprays..they are just as good...good luck hope all goes well with your babies:)

Tara
Jun 25, 2012 10:04pm [ 31 ]

Hey :) I am 20 weeks pregnant and trying to quit smoking, the last couple of days i have cut down and plan to come to a complete stop by next week. i want to know what risks have i put my unborn daughter through as i am frightfully scared something will happen to her either during my pregnancy or after because of my smoking.

Elizabeth
Oct 9, 2012 5:26pm [ 32 ]

Hi, I am writing a speech on the effects of smoking and found this site really helpful.I also found it interesting reading all the comments. I encourage everyone struggling to quit smoking to really put in an effort and try everything they can to quit. I know someone who's mother smoked heavily while she was pregnant with him and now he has major behaviour issues and had to go to a behaviour control school for a year because of his mother smoking while she was pregnant. So I really strongly stress to all pregnant women who smoke to try everything you can to quit smoking. Try and think about your baby more than your cravings....

Hope this helps, Elizabeth

Ashley
Aug 6, 2013 11:25am [ 33 ]

Hi

I'm 25weeks pregnant ....I stop smoking as soon as I found out I was pregnant. ...but the passed few days I have really really wanted to smoke ....I dont have another appointment with my ob till almost the end of the month ....n I would like to know if I'm the only one? Or if anyone knows what I should do !

reena
Aug 28, 2013 8:21pm [ 34 ]

I have just found out that i am 6 weeks pregnant and have stopped smoking immediately. Have the past 6 weeks of smoking affected my baby alot? I know the first 6 weeks are very early on but i am so worried about the damage i could have already caused. Thanks

heather
Sep 25, 2013 12:17am [ 35 ]

I'm 27 weeks pregnant and I've been smoking throughout its been really hard for me to stop, but I've been told if I stop now then it will affect the baby, I'm at college as well that's why I smoke quite a few, any advice thanks:)

tatiana perez
Nov 21, 2013 3:57am [ 36 ]

hello im 30 weeks pregnant and I quit smoking when I was 4 weeks pregnant and began moking again when I was 2 months. I just cannnnnttttt seem to stop smoking its like my body cravessss it. I smoke about 7 ciggs a day and about 12-15 on Friday sat and sun each night. idk what to do uultras seem great and doc doesn't know I smoke and baby seems great. what should I do??

Jessica
Nov 30, 2013 7:29am [ 37 ]

If you are smoking your doctor needs to know! He needs to know that you might be a high risk pregnancy, your not taking care of yourself so he needs to look out for you! your already 30 weeks and haven't quit so what makes you think you will quit now. You need to tell your doc.

Rose
Dec 8, 2013 6:48pm [ 38 ]

hi :) im 13 weeks pregnant and smoke maybe once a week. i cut down alot, but just cant seem to give up that one smoke a week. i look forward to it actaully. is it bad if its once a week? i know it has effets but will it be on the same grand scale as everyday smoking?

dionica
Dec 13, 2013 1:03pm [ 39 ]

Hi. i am 26 weeks pregnant today and i had quit when i got pregnant, but started back oct 1st and am struggling with quitting again. do you think my baby will be ok if i quit today??

Myks
Dec 15, 2013 5:58pm [ 40 ]

I'm 18 weeks and 3 days pregnant and these past few days I have started smoking again. But not as much as I smoke before. Last night I think I had 4 sticks and now that I read a few articles on how smoking affects pregnancy, I'm scared. Learned my lesson and don't wanna let my child suffer in the future. Godbless to all Mom's out there. We can do this! For the sake of our child. :> xx

Mary Parker
Dec 15, 2013 6:35pm [ 41 ]

Smoking - even if it is once a week- is harmful to the baby. Rose it is best if you are able to stop all together. Dionica it is best for your baby if can quit today - continuing smoking will harm your baby.

pooh
Dec 31, 2013 6:32am [ 42 ]

Smoking while 3 weeks prego .. can that affect anything

Lilo
Jan 7, 2014 5:48am [ 43 ]

I have been smoking 1 to 3 cigarettes a day today i am 10 weeks and i want to quit today but i want to know have i done any damage this include taking 3 pulls of marijuana twice and smoking black and milds please help

liz
Jan 28, 2014 5:07pm [ 44 ]

Hi I found out I was pregnant on Jan 6th of 2014 and I quit smoking completely soon as my home pregnancy test came out positive and have not picked up a cigarette since....but my question is when I went for a u/s they couldn't see anything in there yet also I drank on Christmas and New years before I did the test on 1/6/2014...since it was to early to see anything. ..is the baby ok? I rarely ever drink smoking I did everyday but as I said I quit as soon as I saw a positive..

affiya
Feb 1, 2014 5:17am [ 45 ]

I m 1 and half month pregnant.n before doing a pregnancy test till the last day ibwas smoking did it will effect my baby...n now i have concieved so i will get any prob ahead becos of the smoking as im smaoker from past 14 years

thembi
Mar 15, 2014 6:40am [ 46 ]

hi im 6 months and 2 weeks pregnant i smoke about 4 cigarettes a day but not every day sometimes i dont smoke at all tell me is this good or bad im sick with worry and how can i stop smoking please please help and if i quit now will it help my baby please reply to my email address

shay beverly
Apr 27, 2014 5:20pm [ 47 ]

Hi im currently 27 weeks pregnant and I just recently moved into a home with people who smokes both cigarettes and weed.. Im trying very hard to stay away from the smoke but its kinda everywhere in the house.. is my baby going to be ok? I wonder if my baby is ok.. please answer im worried..

Ashleigh
May 7, 2014 3:52pm [ 48 ]

Hi, I'm 31 weeks pregnant and everything has been going great. I quit smoking at approximately week 14 after smoking about 1 pack a day for 5 years but lately I've been REALLY stressed with family and relationship issues and in the last couple of days found myself purchasing a packet of the bloody dreaded things and smoking about 1 - 2 a day :-,( Is this Very Harmful for my baby girl? I've tried to bring myself to throw the pack in the bin and be done with it but can't seem to bring myself to do so. Feeling very weak and like I've already failed at motherhood before it's even started? What should I Do? How badly could this weakness effect the baby?

Anastasia
Jul 11, 2014 8:30pm [ 49 ]

I am now 26 weeks pregnant and have been smoking half a pack a day the whole pregnancy. I just quit smoking yesterday and have been free of cigarettes for almost 24hrs now. It's definitely not easy to quit but I think it's worth it! I watched a short video by Allen Carr called Easy Way to Quit Smoking. It helped a lot on the first day(yesterday). I didn't really crave the nicotine until bedtime, and I just used my first nicotine gum today to help with a craving.

keri
Oct 4, 2014 1:30pm [ 50 ]

Hey there. I just found out I'm about 5 weeks pregnant and I've been smoking. But since I found out I cut down its not good but not bad either. It strangely helps with the headaches and heartburn. I read that it can cause miscarriage. This is my first baby and I'm terrified. Have I hurt my baby?

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