Facebook Pixel Smoking in Pregnancy - Breathe
Skip to main content

Smoking in Pregnancy

This information is for you if you smoke and are either already pregnant or thinking about having a baby.

While quitting smoking can be challenging, it is important for the health, growth, and development of your baby. It is also a key step you can take for your own long-term health and well-being.

This information is designed to empower you with knowledge about the impact of smoking on both you and your baby, as well as the support available to help you quit. It is never too late to make a positive change, and the Breathe Stop smoking team and your Midwifery team will be there to assist you every step of the way.

Smoking while pregnant is harmful to both you and your baby. There is no safe level of smoking during pregnancy. By completely quitting smoking, you can greatly reduce the chances of serious health complications for both you and your baby.

Are you looking for trustworthy information about smoking and pregnancy? Look no further, as we have compiled everything you need to know. Here are some answers to questions usually asked by pregnant individuals.

Can smoking harm my unborn baby? 

Yes, smoking can harm your unborn baby. 

Smoking during pregnancy significantly increases the risk of your baby developing severe health problems, such as being born with face defects, developing asthma, chest and ear infections or behaviour problems such as ADHD.  

Smoking in pregnancy can cause low birth weight: a baby that is small due to smoking is not a healthy baby. Smoking can also increase the risk of stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

What is second-hand smoke, and can it harm me and the baby?  

Second-hand smoke refers to the smoke exhaled into the air after taking a drag on a cigarette and the smoke from the burning end of the cigarette. People around the smoker can inhale this smoke that can linger indoors for hours. 

If someone in your household smokes in the home, this can have serious consequences for you and your baby, both before and after birth. 

Inhaling second-hand smoke has been linked to lower birth weight and an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

Babies with smoking parents are more prone to hospitalisation due to bronchitis and pneumonia in their first year. 

What are the benefits of quitting smoking while pregnant? 

Quitting smoking will have immediate positive effects on both you and your baby. Eliminating toxins, such as carbon monoxide, from your system will be beneficial to your health. 

When you quit smoking, your baby’s heart will function more efficiently. Harmful chemicals in cigarettes restrict the oxygen supply to your baby, and quitting smoking alleviates this issue. 

Quitting smoking completely before you get pregnant or early in your pregnancy is ideal for you and your baby. But even if you stop smoking during the later stages of pregnancy, it will still be beneficial to some extent. 

 I’m a smoker, so what should I do?  

Quitting smoking may seem like a challenging task, but with the right support and a combination of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, it becomes much easier. With the help of stop smoking aids, you are three times more likely to quit smoking for good. 

At Breathe, we’re dedicated to supporting you every step of the way on your journey to a smoke-free life. Our comprehensive 12-week program is designed to provide you with personalised support tailored to your needs. Your dedicated Breathe advisor will work closely with you to create a flexible program that fits seamlessly into your life. Whether you prefer face-to-face consultations or telephone appointments, we’re here to accommodate your preferences. 

During your sessions, we’ll explore a variety of safe nicotine replacement products suitable for use during pregnancy, along with behavioural support strategies to help you overcome cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Our goal is to equip you with the tools and resources you need to successfully kick the habit for good. As part of our commitment to your success, you’ll receive weekly check-in calls to monitor your progress and provide ongoing support. Additionally, we offer convenient options for collecting nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, including in-person pickup or delivery to your home address. 

It’s worth noting that 8 out of 10 pregnant individuals accessing our service successfully quit smoking. With our proven track record and dedicated support, you can feel confident in taking the first step towards a healthier, smoke-free future with Breathe. 

What is the carbon monoxide (CO) test?  

Carbon monoxide (CO) levels are higher in individuals who smoke and in passive smokers than in those who don’t. CO is a poisonous gas that restricts the amount of oxygen getting to your baby. 

At your first antenatal appointment your midwife will ask you to do a breath test, which will measure your level of exposure to CO. This will help your midwife measure your exposure to tobacco smoke. 

All pregnant individuals are advised to have the test whether they smoke or not as levels may also be high if you have faulty gas appliances at home. CO poisoning can be fatal. If you don’t smoke and you are not exposed to tobacco smoke, but your levels are high, you should contact the free Health and Safety Executive Gas Safety Advice Line on 0800 300 363. CO levels may also be raised if you are exposed to high levels of pollution or if you have a medical condition called lactose intolerance. 

Is it safe to vape during pregnancy? 

E-cigarettes, commonly known as vapes, allow users to inhale nicotine through vapour instead of tobacco smoke. 

If you’re pregnant, licensed NRT products such as nicotine patches and gum are the recommended option to help you stop smoking. But if you find using a vape helpful to stay off cigarettes, it’s likely to be safer for you and your baby than continuing to smoke. 

Vaping is considered 95% safer than smoking cigarettes and does not produce harmful chemicals like tar or carbon monoxide, which are especially harmful to developing babies. But we don’t yet know if the vapour from e-cigarettes may cause harm to the unborn baby. 

At Breathe, we offer free expert assistance on how to use a vape and the right nicotine strength to help you stop smoking. 

You can find more information on stopping smoking in pregnancy from the NHS and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 

Key points

  • Smoking in pregnancy is harmful to you and your baby. 
  • Passive smoking can also harm you and your baby. 
  • A baby that is small due to smoking is not a healthy baby.
  • If you smoke, the best thing you can do is stop. Stopping at any time in pregnancy will help, though the sooner the better. 
  • You should stop completely (rather than just cut down), ideally before getting pregnant.
  • Breathe can provide you and your partner with free help, advice, and support to stop smoking if you live, work, study or have a GP in Camden or Islington.
  • Breathe offers help for partners and family members who want to stop smoking.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is safe to use in pregnancy.