Smoking and your baby
Most women know that smoking during pregnancy isn’t good for them or their baby, but that doesn’t make it any easier to beat the addiction.
The fact is that every cigarette you smoke harms your baby. When you smoke you inhale over 4,000 toxic chemicals from the cigarette. One of these is a dangerous chemical called carbon monoxide, which gets into your bloodstream and restricts the oxygen supply to your baby. So their tiny heart has to beat harder, every time you smoke.
If you stop smoking during pregnancy:
- 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 that 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, 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 syndrome).
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.
Secondhand smoke and young children
When you or anyone in your home smokes in front of your children, they smoke too. Young children are particularly vulnerable to secondhand smoke because their bodies are still developing – they can get breathing problems, asthma attacks and middle-ear infections.
The best thing you can do for your child is to stop smoking. Your GP, midwife, health visitor or stop smoking adviser can advise you about nicotine replacement therapy and other medicines, along with details of your local NHS Stop Smoking Service.
- Choose a day to quit and tell friends and family that you may need their support.
- Get rid of your ashtrays, matches and lighters.
- Make your home a no-smoking zone – then you won’t be tempted by people smoking around you.
- Give up with someone else so that you can support each other.
For more information and support:
NHS Pregnancy Smoking Helpline (England)
0800 169 9 169
NHS Stop Smoking Helpline (England)
0800 022 4332
0800 84 84 84
Can stop smoking
Stop Smoking Helpline (Wales)
0800 169 0 169
Smokers’ Helpline (Northern Ireland)
0808 812 8008