Cigarette Smoking and Pregnancy

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Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant are advised to stop smoking, as smoking during pregnancy is

not good and can lead to a plethora of health risks to both the mother and the unborn baby. Smoking is addictive and

harmful to you and your unborn baby’s health. It can cause tissue damage in the unborn baby, particularly the lung and the

brain. Smoking carries a ton of contaminants that is not healthy to human composition. Would you want to help procreate

another human being that has even a slight bit of impurities? One way of ensuring a really healthy baby after the nine-month

process is keeping a healthy state of pregnancy and avoiding any possible risk factors.


What week of pregnancy should I stop smoking?

To decide to quit smoking before getting pregnant is the best option to take. If you are aware of the health risks that

smoking brings to an unborn baby, you would want to be clear of the contaminants before you start the process. Some

women resort to cold turkey, which is quitting with preparations or counseling. Some would need help in order to get the

process done. SmokefreeMOM is a mobile text message program that provides 24/7 tips, and encouragement and offers

many resources that can help you quit.

But for women who are already pregnant, quitting as early as possible can still help protect against some health problems

for their developing babies. It is the best thing that you can do for yourself and your unborn baby. The earlier in pregnancy

you quit, the better it is.

If you stop smoking on the first 16 weeks of your pregnancy, the risk would be similar to as if you had never smoked.

Generally, nicotine leaves your system within 1-3 days since you last smoke cigarette or tobacco products. Nicotine and

cotinine (a chemical substance formed by the breakdown of nicotine in the body) will not be detectable in your urine after

5 to 7 days of stopping. How long it stays in your system will depend on how you ingest nicotine and how frequently.

You can help flush nicotine from your body by drinking lots of water, as nicotine is released from your body through urine.

Exercise, which increases your body’s metabolism rate, also lead to clear nicotine faster. Eating foods rich in antioxidants

would greatly help.

Pregnancy complications from Smoking

Health risks experienced by women who smokes include :

  • Ectopic pregnancy – this is the pregnancy in which the fetus develops outside the uterus, which would typically be in a fallopian tube. It is fatal for the fetus, as it cannot survive outside of the uterus. If the egg is implanted in the fallopian tube and the tube bursts, there can be severe internal bleeding .
  • Placental insufficiency /damaged placenta– a fetus need the placenta to carry oxygen and nutrients, problems with the placenta post serious consequences for mother and fetus mainly due to excessive blood loss before, during or after delivery
  • fetal death – death of the baby in the uterus (stillbirth)
  • premature labor – occurs between the 20th and 37th week of pregnancy, that can result in premature birth.
  • Low birth weight babies -when babies are born weighing less than 5 pounds. Some babies with low birth weight are healthy, even though they are small. But having a low birth weight at birth can cause serious health problems for some babies
  • small for gestational age -a baby who is smaller than the usual amount for the number of weeks of pregnancy. SGA babies usually have birth weights below the 10th percentile for babies of same gestational age. Complications for SGA babies would include perinatal asphyxia, meconium aspiration, polycythemia, and hypoglycemia.
  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) – when the fetus in the womb does not grow as expected. This happen because the fetus doesn’t get enough nutrients and nourishment.

Smoking and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding offers many significant benefits to newborn babies, thus stopping smoking during breastfeeding is

worthwhile. It is also a single most important thing you can do to protect your health. Breastfeeding is still the best choice

you can make, even if you cannot stop smoking. It is better to breastfeed and smoke than not to breastfeed at all.

For babies, breastfeeding reduces the risk of diabetes, certain cancers, gastrointestinal issues, respiratory problems, and

other health complications. Breastfeeding and smoking may well be of an advantage to your baby than bottle feeding and


Some problems caused by smoking while breastfeeding include:

  • Smoking can reduce your milk production and the quality of your breast milk
  • Nicotine and some other chemicals is cigarette smoke can pass from you to your baby through breast milk
  • Increases the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Smoking while breastfeeding increases your baby’s risk of a range of health problems including colic and disrupted sleep patterns

Women who smoke are less likely to breastfeed and are more likely to wean their children earlier than mothers who do not


Smoking is a stress- relieving mechanism for many people. Consider other ways to help achieve the relaxing state to cope

with the nicotine withdrawal. Cuddling your baby can offer the enjoyable feeling and may momentarily eliminate the need

to grab a smoke. Going for a walk with your baby, to get some fresh air, visit the park, community playground is one to

consider. Meet up with other mothers, or chat in social media.


Smoking during pregnancy can cause problems for your child in later life

Smoking poses a lot of health risks not only during pregnancy, but also impairs your child’s health for years to come.

Health effects may include:

  • weaker lungs
  • higher risk of asthma
  • low birth weight, which is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in adulthood
  • up to three times the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)
  • increased risk of being overweight and obese in childhood
  • increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Nicotine Replacement Therapy during pregnancy

It is recommended that you first try to stop without medication
However, if you are unable to quit, you may use nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine gum, lozenges, mouth spray, inhaler,

or  patches) to help you. While using these products is considered safer than smoking, even this smaller amount

of nicotine may not entirely risk-free for your baby.

If you are pregnant, it is important to talk with your doctor before using nicotine replacement therapy to discuss the risk

and benefits of using it. The Quitline counselors can also help you decide what support is best for you.

Where to Get Help

  • Your GP (doctor)
  • Your obstetrician
  • Quitline Tel. 13-7848 (13 QUIT)

I want you to feel that you can reach out to me if ever you have questions or want to share ideas that you have related to the care of babies, growing premature babies, and the overall health pertaining to the care of babies OR just drop me a comment to just say “Hello” or “what’s up”.

All The Best,

Maria Teresa

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