Smoking and Pregnancy

When a pregnant woman smokes, two individuals are exposed to the substances in tobacco smoke, the smoker and her unborn child.

If you are a smoker you significantly increase the risk of complications during pregnancy, and endanger the health of your baby.  During pregnancy the chemicals from cigarette smoke pass directly from your blood into the baby’s blood supply.  Carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas in tobacco smoke, makes it more likely that your baby will have an unhealthy birth weight.  On average your baby will weigh 200g less when it is born.  This isn’t healthy – smaller babies are much more likely to have difficulty breathing soon after the birth and to pick up infections.

If you smoke you increase your risk of:

  • miscarriage
  • bleeding
  • your waters breaking earlier (as a result your baby might be born with an infection)
  • your baby being born prematurely
  • your baby dying just before or after birth
  • your baby dying from cot death
  • your baby being smaller and lighter than normal.

The ill effects continue well into the life of the child.  For example, if exposed to tobacco smoke before birth the child is more likely to become asthmatic.

Quitline is there to help you

Smoking is a powerful addiction.  You might have found it hard to give up in the past.  Quitline understands and is here to support you and to help you make a plan to quit.  You can call a Quitline advisor for free on 0800 778 778.  If you’d prefer not to talk to someone, you can also sign up at  and access a range of online services to help you quit.

Use of patches, gum and lozenges

Pregnant and breastfeeding women can still use nicotine patches, gum and lozenges.  These products expose the fetus to lower levels of nicotine than from smoking and there is no exposure to the other toxic components of tobacco smoke.  This is far safer than smoking.  Prescription tablets to help you stop smoking are not recommended during pregnancy.

You and your baby have a lot to gain from you quitting, financially and health-wise.  No matter how far you are into your pregnancy, the moment you stop smoking you start increasing your chances of a healthy baby.

Secondhand smoke

Every time someone smokes around you, you and your baby are exposed to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.  After birth, smoking by either parent or exposure to tobacco smoke from other sources is a major factor in producing disease in the infant and child.  Problems include glue ear, sudden infant death, trigger of asthma attacks and respiratory infections.

You can minimise your exposure and your baby’s exposure to secondhand smoke by:

  • making your home and car completely smoke-free
  • encouraging your friends and family to go outside if they want to smoke
  • avoiding, where you can, environments where other people have been or are smoking
  • encouraging any smokers who live with you to get help to quit.

Quitline Services

Phone: Call the Quitline for free advice and support to help you quit smoking.  0800 778 778


Quit Blogs: Join the blogging community and get support from others who are also quitting smoking.  Register at


Quit Stats: See how much money you’re saving with your very own real-time Quit Stats.  Register at


Txt2Quit: Hook up to Txt2Quit and we’ll send you free quitting tips and support straight to your mobile.  Register at


Online Coach: Get online help to work out why you smoke and to make a plan to beat the addiction.  Register at


Nicotine patches, gum and lozenges: It’s never been cheaper to quit.  Get nicotine patches, gum or lozenges.  Register at or call the Quitline on 0800 778 778.