Smoking During Pregnancy and Around Infants and Children

It is not healthy for any person to smoke. If you are pregnant and you smoke during your pregnancy, you may hurt your baby as well as yourself.

What are the dangers of smoking during pregnancy?

When you smoke, your lungs absorb the chemicals in the smoke. Some of these chemicals can cause cancer, and others narrow the blood vessels that bring blood to the uterus. The chemicals can be passed to the baby and the baby gets less oxygen and food from your blood.

If you smoke while you are pregnant:

  • You have a greater risk of losing your baby during pregnancy.
  • Your baby may have a low birth weight or be born early.
  • Your baby may have trouble breathing at birth.

What are the dangers of smoking around children after birth?

The smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes is unhealthy for a baby after birth. Infants and children who are exposed to smoke (passive smoking) are more likely to have:

  • Asthma
  • Learning and behavioral problems
  • More colds, lung problems, and ear infections
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS, or crib death)

Over time, passive smoking can increase your child’s risk for kidney damage and high blood pressure.

When do I need to quit smoking?

You should quit smoking before you try to get pregnant. If you are already pregnant, you should quit smoking as soon as possible. If you stop smoking early in pregnancy, your risks are about the same as someone who does not smoke.

What can help me quit smoking?

Things that you might try to help you stop smoking are:

  • Have reasons for quitting that are stronger than the urges to smoke. Keeping yourself and your baby healthy is a great reason to quit. If you cannot stop smoking on your own, get help and counseling.
  • Set a quit date. Set a date when you will stop smoking. Don’t buy cigarettes that will carry you past your last day.
  • Throw away your cigarettes and ashtrays. Don’t make it easy to start smoking again. If you keep cigarettes in the house you may smoke one, and then another, and another.
  • Join a quit-smoking program. It may be easier for you to quit if you have the support of a group.
  • Get support from family and friends. Ask for their encouragement. Ask them not to offer you cigarettes. Ask them to help by not smoking around you.
  • Spend time with people who don’t smoke. Think of yourself as a nonsmoker. Don’t go to places where there are a lot of smokers, such as parties or bars. Sit in the nonsmoking section of restaurants.
  • Do things that don’t involve smoking or people who are smokers.
  • Start an exercise program. As you become more fit, you will not want the nicotine effects in your body. Regular exercise will help keep you from gaining weight.
  • Keep yourself busy. You may find you don’t know what to do with your hands. You can read or draw, fix things, make a plastic model, or do a puzzle. You may also be used to having something in your mouth. You could chew gum or eat carrots or celery.
  • Learn ways to relax and manage stress, such as exercise or going out with family or friends. Join a group or take a class in areas that interest you, such as art, music, or another hobby. Volunteer in your community.
  • Be prepared for relapse and temptation. Most people who go back to smoking cigarettes do so within the first 3 months after they quit.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about medicines to help you quit smoking that are safe to take during pregnancy. Do not use nicotine replacement products such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum while you are pregnant unless they have been approved by your healthcare provider.
  • Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigs, are battery-operated devices that look like a cigarette or cigar. They make a smokeless vapor that the user inhales. The vapor contains many chemicals, and often contains nicotine. E-cigarettes are not a good way to quit smoking.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2015-01-02
Last reviewed: 2015-01-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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