Stopping smoking is the most important thing you can do to improve your baby’s health, growth and development, and the good news is that both you and your baby will feel the benefits straight away.
Your oxygen levels will return to normal in as little as eight hours and in 24 hours your carbon monoxide levels go back to the level of a non-smoker. Stopping smoking will reduce the risk of complications for you and your baby.
Stopping smoking at any stage of your pregnancy gives you health benefits. If you stop in the first three months of pregnancy, your risk of having a low birth weight baby drops to that of a non-smoker. The earlier you stop smoking, the greater the benefit to you and your baby, but there are benefits to stopping at any point during pregnancy.
Don’t give up trying! If you want to stop smoking, and need some support, you can self-refer into our service. Fill in the form here and email to one of the addresses below and we'll be in touch.
Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals; at least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are toxic. Carbon monoxide restricts the amount of oxygen that is able to reach your baby; with each cigarette you smoke reducing your baby’s oxygen supply for 20 minutes, which is very harmful. Nicotine is also contained in cigarettes; this is the substance that keeps you addicted. Smoking even one cigarette exposes both you and you baby to these chemicals.
Smoking when pregnant increases your risk of:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Your baby being born with abnormalities
- A low birth weight baby (three times more likely) - a baby that is small due to smoking is more likely to have health problems when young and later in life
- Bleeding during the last months of pregnancy
- Premature birth
- Developing problems with your placenta
Once born, babies are at greater risk of:
- Sudden and unexplained death (SIDS) – as well as newborns this can happen in infants over 12 months and there is a greater risk if you or your partner smoke after the baby is born
- Asthma, chest and ear infections, pneumonia
- Being smaller, lighter and more prone to infections
- Having poorer lung function
- Behavioural problems such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
- Performing poorly at school
- Becoming smokers themselves when older
Exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke (passive smoking) can be harmful. Babies in the womb exposed to second-hand smoke have a higher risk of:
- Being stillborn or dying soon after birth
- Being born early
- Growth and health of the baby being affected
Ask smokers to support you by not smoking near you and avoid people who are smoking.
Our team of specialist smokefree pregnancy advisors can offer you one-to-one encouragement and support with things like setting a quit date, managing your cravings, and changing your routines and habits.
Our service is free to access and we can support you throughout your pregnancy and beyond. With NHS support, you will be three times more likely to succeed at stopping smoking than if you try alone.
We can advise you on which Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products would work best for you and will be provided free of charge. NRT medications are safe to use in pregnancy and:
- Can double your chances of quitting
- Do not contain harmful chemicals or carbon monoxide, they contain clean forms of nicotine, so are much safer for your baby than continuing to smoke
Speak to your midwife to refer you to our dedicated smokefree pregnancy service at any time during your pregnancy and after your baby arrives or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or bwc.stopsmokinguhb.nhs.net we will be in contact within a few days to start your journey to being smoke free.
Your partner or other close family members who smoke can support you by stopping too. They can receive support through the Smokefree Pregnancy Advisors or they can get support through www.nhs.uk/smokefree or phone the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is the main risk factor of smoking in pregnancy. CO is a poisonous gas that you can’t see or smell and it is released when a cigarette burns. CO is absorbed into your lungs and is picked up by your red blood cells, in place of oxygen; this reduces the amount of oxygen getting to you and your baby, putting your baby’s tiny heart under strain. Your baby’s growth can be affected, with your baby being at risk of being born smaller and weaker.
A carbon monoxide reading will be taken at your first antenatal appointment and at follow up appointments to check your exposure to CO.