Smoking and Pregnancy FAQs

Finding out you’re pregnant can spark a wave of emotions — joy, nerves, excitement and fear, among others.

Finding out you’re pregnant can spark a wave of emotions — joy, nerves, excitement and fear, among others. If you smoke, this new stage of life may come with questions about your health and your baby’s future. There is a lot of false information about smoking during pregnancy, so we compiled a list of commonly asked questions to help you navigate this new phase of life.

Is smoking bad for pregnancy?

How long should I stop smoking before pregnancy?

Can smoking before pregnancy cause birth defects?

How does smoking during the first trimester affect my baby?

How does smoking during the second trimester affect my baby?

Does quitting while pregnant put stress on my baby?

When is the best and safest time to quit during pregnancy?

Is secondhand smoke bad during pregnancy?

How does tobacco impact fertility, pregnancy and birth?

What effects does smoking have on newborn babies?

How to avoid smoking triggers after pregnancy

Is smoking bad for pregnancy?

Whether you’ve been pregnant before or this is your first child, it’s only natural to feel protective of your baby. The dangers of cigarettes are real — with each puff, you inhale over 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which can cause cancer. Just like food and drinks, everything you put into your body goes to your baby. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking while pregnant — or using any type of tobacco or nicotine product, such as vapes, dip and pouches — puts your baby at risk of:

  • Low birth weight
  • Breathing issues
  • Delayed development
  • Feeding difficulties

You are also more likely to deliver earlier than planned, which can lead to premature birth. Premature babies often spend extra days, weeks or months in the hospital to allow their bodies to safely develop.

How long should I stop smoking before pregnancy?

If you’re trying to get pregnant or considering pregnancy, it’s best to wait until nicotine is out of your system before moving forward. This includes any nicotine products, such as patches, gum or lozenges, that you may use on your quit journey. On average, it takes about one week for nicotine to leave your system. However, it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor for advice specific to you.

Can smoking before pregnancy cause birth defects?

Smoking prior to pregnancy can lead to complications. However, the risk factors greatly decrease the longer you are smoke free. If you are thinking about starting a family, start thinking about quitting tobacco as well.

How does smoking during the first trimester affect my baby?

Smoking during the first trimester can cause several high risks, such as birth defects, premature labor, miscarriage and pregnancy complications. Cigarette smoke reduces your baby’s oxygen and blood supply, which can lead to slow growth and development.

How does smoking during the second trimester affect my baby?

Your baby is changing throughout your entire pregnancy. Smoking during the second trimester and beyond continues to harm your baby’s development. At this stage in your pregnancy, you may start to feel your baby move. You may notice the baby’s movements may become slow or even stop for up to an hour after smoking as they struggle to get enough oxygen.

Does quitting while pregnant cause my baby stress?

No. In fact, the opposite is true. Smoking throughout your pregnancy is much more harmful than quitting. Smoking increases blood pressure, speeds up your heart rate and increases the amount of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. All of this adds up to less oxygen for your baby. When you quit smoking:

  • Your baby’s oxygen levels will immediately improve
  • You’ll have more energy
  • You’ll become less likely to experience complications during your pregnancy

When should you stop smoking while pregnant?

If you are planning to get pregnant, it’s best to quit smoking as soon as possible. If you are already expecting, quitting at any time during your pregnancy is good for your baby! The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline has FREE services and resources to help you quit smoking, such as encouraging and nonjudgmental Coach support.

Is secondhand smoke bad during pregnancy?

Absolutely, yes. When you are around cigarette smoke, you and your baby inhale many of the same toxic chemicals mentioned above. It may feel tough, but smoke-free and vape-free environments are the safest places for your baby to thrive. As you start your own tobacco-free journey, this is also a great way to avoid triggers and cravings. Choose smoke-free places, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries with friends and family to benefit you and your baby’s health.

How does smoking impact fertility, pregnancy and birth?

Smoking can cause a delay in becoming pregnant as it slows down hormone production. It can also impact your birth experience as your body takes longer to heal. This can cause pain and discomfort after giving birth.

What effects does smoking have on newborn babies?

Babies and children who experience secondhand smoke at home are at an increased risk of:

  • Asthma attacks
  • Bronchitis
  • Ear infections
  • Lung damage
  • Respiratory infections
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

How to avoid smoking triggers after pregnancy:

As triggers, cravings and temptations set in, try these tips:

  • Identify your stressors. Having a new baby brings new challenges. Sleepless nights, feeding sessions, endless diaper changes and unexpected costs can cause stress and worry. Instead of turning to tobacco, find new ways to cope. Listen to music you love, enjoy healthy snacks or take a few deep breaths.
  • Ask for support. You never have to do this alone. Reach out to loved ones or one of the Helpline’s Coaches when you feel overwhelmed or like you need tobacco. Be honest about your struggles and ask for accountability and help.
  • Remember your “why”: If you quit during pregnancy, you quit for your baby. Hold on to that idea when you feel tempted to buy more cigarettes, vapes or other nicotine products. Your baby needs you now just as much as they needed you in the womb. Give them the gift of health by continuing to live tobacco free.

How to quit smoking while pregnant:

If you are thinking about quitting, reach out to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline for support. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW, text READY to 34191 or sign up here to start your tobacco-free journey into motherhood.

You’ve got this — we’re just here to help.

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