Smoking in pregnancy

All women who smoke in pregnancy are referred to the smoking cessation adviser by their midwife.

Why is it harmful to smoke during pregnancy?

A baby in the womb gets everything from its mother. It obtains nourishment and oxygen through the placenta and umbilical cord. If the mother smokes, the foetus will also be exposed to the toxins (poisons) present in tobacco smoke. In pregnancy, it is her decision whether or not to continue smoking. However, she should think seriously about the fact that she is not only making this decision for herself, but also on behalf of her unborn child who is dependent on her.

What changes does smoking cause in the body?

When a person smokes, some of the oxygen in their blood is replaced by carbon monoxide. If a pregnant woman smokes, her blood and therefore her child's blood will contain different toxic substances that change the blood's ability to work in a healthy and normal manner. This can affect the placenta which feeds the baby.

How smoking harms the child before it is born

Babies born to mothers who smoke are;
  • more likely to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight
  • twice as likely to die from cot death. There seems to be a direct link between cot death and parents' (both mother and father) smoking
  • ill more frequently than non smokers' children. They go to the doctor far more often and are taken to hospital far more often than the children of non-smokers' with painful diseases such as inflammation on the middle ear and asthmatic bronchitis.
In addition:
  • pregnant women who smoke increase their risk of early miscarriage;
  • in later pregnancy, smoking mothers are at increased risk of the baby's afterbirth (placenta) coming away from the womb before the baby is born (placenta abruption). This may cause the baby to be born prematurely starved of oxygen or even to die in the womb (stillborn).

How to stop smoking

It is never too late to stop smoking. Each cigarette you decide not to smoke will help you live longer. Every cigarette you don't smoke will help your baby. The damage that tobacco smoke has caused can be reversed.
It is always better to quit smoking in pregnancy. Even using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), patches and gum etc. is far safer than continuing to smoke. The smoking cessation adviser can help most women to change to a healthier option than smoking by using NRT and explore behavioural change techniques to help prepare emotionally, and in a practical way for a good attempt at quitting. Evidence shows that specific counseling by a qualified stop smoking specialist can double quit rates for pregnant women. Giving up smoking is the single most important thing a woman can do to improve her own and her baby's health. Pregnant women can get support and advice about stopping smoking from their midwife, antenatal clinic or GP.

Contact us

If you think our smoking cessation adviser can help you, please do not hesitate to contact her on 07990 583 195.
For more information on how to stop smoking, please take a look at our Medway Stop Smoking Service webpage.