If you smoke then the best thing you can do for your health is to stop. This is especially true when you are pregnant.
Smoking when pregnant is harmful to you and to your baby.
The earlier you stop, the greater the benefits. Stopping completely is the only effective way to protect yourself and your baby. It’s never too late.
Benefits of quitting for you and your baby
You will experience many benefits if you stop smoking. If you are pregnant, your baby will also experience benefits and you will experience a safer pregnancy.
As soon as you stop, the chemicals in cigarette smoke will start to clear from your body. You and your baby will get more oxygen. This means you and your baby will start to feel benefits within hours of you stopping smoking.
Smoking cuts down the amount of oxygen and nutrients that get to your baby through the placenta.
Your baby needs these to grow and develop, so babies of women who smoke tend to be smaller. Growing more slowly during pregnancy and being born smaller is not good for your baby.
A smaller baby does not mean an easier delivery. The baby’s head won’t be much smaller but their lungs and heart may be underdeveloped and weaker.
Risks of smoking during pregnancy
There are many risks with smoking in pregnancy.
- ectopic pregnancy
- your baby dying in the womb (stillbirth) or shortly after birth
- sudden infant death syndrome (cot death)
- your baby being born with abnormalities
- slow baby growth
- bleeding in late pregnancy
- life-threatening 'placental abruption' (placenta comes away from the wall of the womb)
- premature birth and breathing difficulties
- your baby having asthma, ear infections and pneumonia
- giving birth to a smaller baby
Help for quitting smoking
The first thing you should do is to get in touch with QUIT, part of the HSE’s stop smoking services.
Advice and support from QUIT
QUIT provides free, non-judgemental advice and support for people who want to quit smoking.
QUIT’s stop smoking advisors are available by phone, Facebook, live chat or Freetext.
You can also talk to your GP, midwife or obstetrician. They may refer you to a stop smoking clinic.
Some maternity hospitals also have midwives who are trained to help you stop smoking.
Nicotine replacement therapy and pregnancy
Nicotine replacement therapy can reduce or remove the physical symptoms of withdrawal.
If you are thinking about becoming pregnant and smoke, you can try nicotine replacement therapy to help you quit. It is best to combine this with stop smoking support from a trained advisor.
If you are already pregnant and smoke, you can still use nicotine replacement therapy. It will increase your chance of stopping smoking.
Care is needed when taking any medicine during pregnancy. Talk to your stop smoking adviser, GP, midwife, pharmacist or obstetrician first.
E-cigarettes and pregnancy
E-cigarettes are not recommended as a safe and effective way to stop smoking. They are not currently recommended for pregnant women.
Inhaling smoke from other people’s cigarettes can also harm your baby.
Make your home and car smoke-free areas, whether you smoke or not. This will help to protect against harm caused by second-hand smoke.