Smoking During Pregnancy: What You Should Know In 2023

Aleksandra Osadcha March 8, 2022
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Smoking During Pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy is like throwing away your baby’s chance at a healthy life. So, if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, quitting now would be the best thing for you and your child. Remember that you are doing this for yourself, your unborn baby, and the life you will share.

Why It Is Hard To Quit Smoking While Pregnant

So you’re pregnant. Congratulations! This is a big deal, and one of many upsides to being pregnant is that you can use it as an excuse to finally quit smoking. You know it’s bad for your health, and you’ve known it’s bad for your health since the first time you tried a cigarette.

Now that you’re about to be a parent, though, there’s no better time to finally kick the habit. Not only will quitting help improve your life expectancy so that you have more time to spend with your new baby (and their kids after them), but it will also keep your baby from having to deal with all of the problems associated with having been exposed to nicotine and associated chemicals in the womb.

But if giving up tobacco is so obviously beneficial for everyone involved, why does it seem so hard to quit smoking while pregnant? Here’s why:

  • You’re getting less sleep than ever before, so your cravings are more intense.
  • Your body is in a complete state of flux, so quitting can be physically exhausting.
  • You’re stressed by your new responsibilities as a mother, which makes it harder to focus on quitting.

When you are pregnant, there are so many changes to your body that it can feel overwhelming. Whether it is morning sickness or mood swings, you have to contend with all these physical changes. But what about emotional changes? Unfortunately, the roadblocks to quitting smoking during pregnancy don’t end with the physical.

In fact, one of the biggest reasons people continue smoking while pregnant is because of their mental health.

A large number of women who smoke during pregnancy suffer from depression, which makes them more likely to continue smoking since cigarettes can be a source of comfort and stress relief.

The CDC encourages pregnant women to stop smoking as soon as they find out they’re expecting, because smoking during pregnancy can have serious health consequences for both mom and baby. But what if you just can’t quit?

Effects Of Smoking While Pregnant

Smoking during pregnancy affects both you and your baby. If you smoke while you’re pregnant, it’s not just a bad habit—it’s endangering your health and the health of your growing baby.

You already know that smoking while expecting is a bad idea. You’re probably also aware that quitting smoking is really, really hard to do. Putting these two facts together, it’s not surprising that quitting smoking while pregnant can be incredibly difficult—but it’s also incredibly important for the health of you and your baby. These risks of smoking during pregnancy may help you decide to give up smoking once and for all.

Carbon monoxide. This agent can be found in any tobacco and limits the amount of oxygen a baby gets. This has a negative impact on the lungs and brain of a newborn baby. There may be future risks because of the low performance of the umbilical cord during pregnancy. As a result of chemicals and a lack of oxygen, miscarriage (also called spontaneous abortion) is also a common problem.

Poor health. Moms who smoke are more likely to deliver their babies early. Preterm delivery is a leading cause of death, disability, and disease among newborns. Not only that, but babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy have a three-fold increased chance of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Passive smoking. Women often make the mistake of assuming that quitting smoking reduces or even eliminates their pregnancy risks. But even if you quit, the risk of being exposed to secondhand smoke while pregnant remains. According to the NHS, if you smoke indoors, the air remains dangerous for up to three hours after you smoke a cigarette, because the active agents are odorless. This remains regardless of whether the room was aired or not.

It is best to completely avoid cigarettes and nicotine. Try to talk to your close family and friends to support you during your pregnancy, and reduce or quit smoking together. If you used to be a smoker before your pregnancy, it is a great idea to encourage your significant other to support you, and to remove all possible triggers. 

This is to ensure that you are not constantly attracted by a cigarette in the pack lying on the kitchen counter, or the smell of cigarette smoke in the living room. Clean your car properly so that it does not have extra odors. The moment you stop lighting up cigarettes, you will get more sensitive to the smells. Your original smell level goes back to normal and starts playing tricks on you, constantly seducing you to go back to habits you’ve just given up. Don’t let it lure you. Stick to the goal, and try to distract yourself. 

The Risks Early-Born Babies May Experience

Smoking increases the risk of preterm delivery, so it is worth discussing what else can potentially go wrong when you smoke while pregnant. 

To start with, these infants are usually kept in hospital for days, and even weeks to gain the necessary weight. Doctors have to make sure the baby is in good health before they leave the hospital, so that the mom can take care of the infant with greater success. 

Here are some possible complications:

  • Breathing problems that may be difficult to treat
  • Lower infant body weight
  • Difficult feeding process
  • Cerebral palsy with movement complications 
  • Hearing and eyesight difficulties
  • Developmental delays that include delayed movement, thinking, and language development.

Prematurely born kids are difficult to take care of, and it can get very expensive as your baby will be in NICU for a long time. 

Should I Use Nicotine Replacement During Pregnancy?

No.

Nicotine is a drug, and not just any kind of drug: it’s a psychoactive drug. That means it alters the way your brain works and behaves. It also constricts blood vessels, limiting nutrients and oxygen to parts of your body and your developing child.

With every puff, a little bit of nicotine makes its way into your bloodstream, and then into the fetal bloodstream.

The fetus’ brain is still developing, so nicotine has a chance to affect that development in the same way it affects yours.

If you love smoking but can’t quit during your pregnancy, you’re better off at least cutting down as far as possible: only have one cigarette per day or less, for example. You should also keep in mind that even if you don’t smoke yourself, the father might, which means the baby is passively exposed to nicotine through him as well.

Is It Necessary To Quit Smoking Electronic Cigarettes During Pregnancy?

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) have grown in popularity over the last decade, but many still wonder if it’s safe to use them while pregnant.

When you’re a smoker, you can’t help but notice the strange looks you get when you light up. The sideways glances and the disapproving frowns are enough to make anyone feel guilty about their habit—especially as that habit is damaging not only your health, but also that of your baby.

This is why so many women turn to e-cigs after they find out they are expecting. They hear that e-cigs are a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, and they want to do everything they can for their newborn.

However, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine with e-cigarettes. 

The ingredients in electronic cigarettes are not proven safe for pregnant women, nor is there enough information from studies to prove that the use of electronic cigarettes is safe when pregnant. 

It is never safe to use nicotine during pregnancy, regardless of the method of delivery. However, the struggle to quit is not easily achieved. Many women find it hard to do so on their own and can oftentimes, struggle a great deal before eventually giving up and resuming the unhealthy habit of smoking cigarettes.

Using drug-free aversion therapy programs like Quittercheck can help you stay away from nicotine products if you are really committed to quitting.

The Benefits Of Quitting Smoking When Pregnant

If you love your life, if you want to live as long as possible, and if you want to be around for your family, then quitting smoking before you get pregnant is the best choice that you can make. But if you’re pregnant and currently smoking, there are so many reasons to quit. The sooner you quit while pregnant, the better chances for your baby.

I know what you’re thinking: “This quitting thing is just too hard.” And, yes, it can be difficult. But quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your health and the health of your newest family member. 

In fact, kicking the habit will help prolong your life. It will lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, including lung, throat, mouth, pancreatic, and bladder cancer. Not only that, but it also reduces your risk of breathing disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and emphysema. 

In addition to these health benefits, quitting will help improve your appearance. Your skin will wrinkle less and look better; your fingers and teeth will not continue to yellow; and your sense of smell and taste will improve. It will increase your energy levels, make you feel healthier, improve your self-esteem, and save you a lot of money!

How To Quitting Smoking When Pregnant 

Pregnancy is hard. There’s no getting around it. And if you’re smoking, it’s even harder.

Long story short: smokers are at higher risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, and having a baby born with low birth weight. 

We know quitting is hard, but we also know that you are up to the challenge.

And remember: there are plenty of resources out there to help you quit. You don’t have to fight this battle on your own. You deserve to be healthy—and so does your baby!

There’s no one right way to do it, but here are some tips you can use to help yourself.

First, try to get rid of everything that reminds you of smoking, like matches or ashtrays. You’ll also want to make your home a non-smoking area. If you live with other people who smoke, make sure they don’t smoke around you. You might also try drinking less caffeine and alcohol, since they can stimulate your urge to smoke. 

Next, change all the habits connected with smoking. Try other activities instead of smoking when you feel stressed. Take along mints or gum (preferably sugarless) for those times when you get the urge to smoke.

Finally, look for support from others. Join a support group or smoking cessation program if possible. Chances are there are women at the same stage of pregnancy in your area who are going through the same issues.

If you’re having trouble getting started, a lot of people find support in apps like Quittercheck. This program is dedicated to helping people quit their smoking habits and nicotine addiction for good. Whether you’re an expectant mother looking to quit smoking before her baby arrives or an individual struggling with stopping smoking later down the road, Quittercheck is here for you! 

We’re not going to tell you that quitting is easy. But we will help you fight your cravings and guide you through difficult situations so you can get through this challenge with a smile on your face.

We’ve helped numerous smokers quit smoking, and we’ll help get you there too!

Remember that it takes time to change your smoking habits. It is a good idea to do some planning to make it easier for you to quit. Talk with your doctor about what steps you can take to help you quit.

Don’t get discouraged if you slip up and smoke. View it as part of the process, and keep trying. Many people try more than once before they quit for good. It may be helpful to think of these slips as learning experiences instead of failures. If one method doesn’t work, try another approach until you find one that works for you.

You can do this! You can make the decision today to not only protect your health, but also the health of your baby and everyone else around you. By quitting now, you’re giving yourself and your family a much better chance at a healthy future!

Quitting smoking can be the hardest thing you’ll ever do—and it’s almost impossible to do it alone.

That’s why we developed Quittercheck. We’re a companion program that helps you not only quit, but also get rewards for your dedication. With our 12-week, 16-week, and 22-week plans, you can stop smoking for good AND reap a financial reward from us for your new good habit. And we don’t just leave you on your own: we provide professional support throughout the process for those moments when you need a caring hand.

We believe that everyone has the power to quit smoking and live the life they want—and with Quittercheck, it’s easier than ever to make it happen

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • At what stage of pregnancy does smoking affect the baby?

Any amount of smoking during pregnancy is dangerous. Smoking can cause problems for your baby, no matter what stage of pregnancy you’re in.

  • How can a fetus be affected by smoking?

Smoking during pregnancy can cause many health problems for your baby, including: low birth weight, premature birth (being born too early), birth defects of the mouth and lip, sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death).

  • Is it OK to smoke one cigarette a day while pregnant?

No amount of cigarette smoke is safe for you or your baby while pregnant. There is no such thing as a safe amount of cigarettes during pregnancy. If you are having trouble quitting or cutting down, talk with your healthcare provider about how you can quit smoking during your pregnancy. You can also check out Quittetcheck – a program that helps you kick the habit successfully with drug-free aversion therapy.