If you are pregnant and you smoke, the best thing you can do for your baby is to stop. Quitting smoking can be difficult so ask for help.
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.
As soon as you stop, the chemicals will start to clear from your body and your baby will get more oxygen.
Smoking when pregnant is harmful to you and to your baby. Inhaling smoke from other people’s cigarettes can also harm your baby.
Whether you smoke or not, make your home and car smoke-free areas. This will help to protect against harm caused by second-hand smoke.
Benefits of quitting for you and your baby
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.
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 under developed and weaker.
If you smoke, stopping before or during pregnancy will reduce the risk of:
- 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 smoking cessation services.
Advice and support from QUIT
QUIT provides free advice and support for people who want to quit smoking. This is non-judgemental.
QUIT’s smoking cessation practitioners are available by phone, Facebook, LIVE chat or Freetext. You can also sign up for a daily email or SMS support.
You can also talk to your GP, midwife or obstetrician who may refer you to a smoking cessation clinic. Some maternity hospitals have trained smoking cessation midwives.
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.
If you are already pregnant and smoke, talk to your smoking cessation practitioner, GP, midwife, pharmacist or obstetrician before using it.
E-cigarettes and pregnancy
E-cigarettes are not safe or effective in helping to quit smoking in pregnancy. They are not currently recommended for pregnant women.