Smoking during pregnancy

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When you smoke, so does your baby

You wouldn't let your newborn baby puff on a cigarette. But did you know that it's just as important to keep your baby smoke-free before he or she is born?

Reasons to quit

Heart shape on bellySmoking is not only harmful to your health, it also puts your pregnancy and baby at risk. Cigarette smoke contains poisons such as nicotine and carbon monoxide — the same gas that comes out of your car's exhaust pipe. These poisons get into the placenta and keep the baby from getting food and oxygen.

There is a greater chance that you could lose your baby during pregnancy if you smoke. Your baby is also more likely to:

  • be born premature, with health problems after birth
  • be born underweight and smaller than children of nonsmokers
  • be more likely to need special care and a longer stay in the hospital
  • have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or "crib death"
  • have more colds and other lung problems later in life

The earlier you stop smoking, the more beneficial it is to both you and your baby.

But keep in mind that the earlier you stop smoking, the more beneficial it is to both you and your baby. According to a Kaiser Permanente studyA service of the Kaiser Permanente Kaiser Permanente News Center. Please review the privacy policy and terms of use as they differ from those of this site., pregnant women who receive treatment for smoking early in their pregnancy can have the same health outcomes as pregnant women who don't smoke.

Quitting smoking before getting pregnant is best. But for women who are already pregnant, quitting as early as possible can still help protect against some health problems, such as low birth weight.

We know it's not easy, but we have supportive classes near you and other resources to help you quit.

Staying smoke-free

If you have already quit smoking, congratulations! It's important to stay smoke-free after your baby is born. Not smoking is good for your health and the health of your family, especially your new baby.

Babies have very small lungs and airways that get even smaller when they breathe smoked-filled air. Children who grow up breathing secondhand smoke have 4 times as many respiratory infections (lung, sinus, and ear infections) as those from nonsmoking households.

If you're breastfeeding, you have even more reason to stay smoke-free after your baby is born. Nicotine is a poison in cigarettes. If you smoke, your baby drinks the poison in your breast milk.

It's easier not to smoke when you're surrounded by other nonsmokers. Encourage others to join your efforts to be smoke-free by:

  • asking your partner and other family members to quit smoking with you
  • asking family members or guests not to smoke in your home, or to go outside to smoke
  • asking family, friends, babysitters, and childcare workers not to smoke anywhere near your baby, even when outdoors
  • not letting anyone smoke in your car

Remember, every year more than a million people quit smoking. Even if you tried quitting before and it didn't last, it's important to keep trying. Most people who try to stop smoking eventually succeed, and you can do it too.

Source: Adapted from copyrighted material of The Permanente Medical Group, Inc.

Reviewed by: Jeff Convissar, MD, November 2015
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

© 2015 Kaiser Permanente

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