- We all know smoking is bad, but quitting is not easy even for pregnant people.
- Smoking while pregnant is a big risk for a developing baby in the womb.
- Quitting now can help your baby a lot & be a good motivator to keep you from smoking more in the future!
According to the CDC, 5.6% of pregnant women in Georgia reported smoking during pregnancy. Smoking is harmful to both you & your baby before, during, & after pregnancy. Tobacco products, including some e-cigarettes, contain nicotine & other chemicals. These chemicals can harm the baby while they are in the womb & can increase health risks for both mom & baby.
Smoking is Risky
Anytime you take in smoke directly or second-hand, the chemicals in tobacco travel through your bloodstream & to your baby. This means whatever you breathe in, your baby is also taking it in.
What are the health risks of smoking during pregnancy?
- Ectopic (tubal) pregnancy: when the egg implants in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus
- Placental abruption: when the placenta separates from the uterus too early (uncommon but serious) decreasing oxygen & nutrients to the baby & heavy bleeding of the mother
- Placenta previa: when the placenta blocks the cervix causing serious bleeding throughout pregnancy & delivery
- Preeclampsia: a dangerous condition when the mother develops high blood pressure & swelling
- Preterm (early) birth: This is one of the top five causes of infant death in the U.S.
- Tissue damage to baby’s developing organs, especially the lungs & brain
These all sound scary, but you can help protect your baby. Quitting smoking is the best thing for both you & your baby’s health. It’s best to quit as early in the pregnancy as possible, but it is never too late to quit!
The Baby Benefits
Quitting smoking during pregnancy has amazing health benefits!
- Lower chance of your baby being born too early
- Lower chance of birth defects
- Lower chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Higher chance of a healthy birth weight
- Higher chance of your baby coming home from the hospital with you & not needing further hospital care
- Higher chance of healthy lung & brain development
If you stay away from tobacco products & second hand smoke after birth, both you & your baby will be healthier. Babies who live in smoke-free environments have fewer chest colds & other illnesses, lower chance of asthma, & a lower chance of becoming smokers themselves when they grow up. Your baby can be a great motivation to quit smoking so you can become the healthy mom & person you want to be. Quitting smoking is also a great way to start teaching your baby healthy habits they can use for the rest of their life!
Steps to Battle Addiction
But we know- quitting smoking is HARD! So what can you do to make it easier?
- Plan to quit for good. This can be your motivation to give your baby the healthiest environment possible for years after pregnancy!
- Don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time. Most people have to try a few times before they quit for good. Remember – every time you don’t smoke is a step in the right direction & benefits your baby!
- Talk to your provider. They can tell you about resources to help you quit like support groups, counseling, apps, or online quitting programs.
- Know your triggers & make a list of things you can do to distract yourself when you crave a smoking break. Some great ideas are exercising, going for a walk, or calling a supportive friend that understands your struggle.
- Ask friends or family for support. They can encourage you when it gets tough & celebrate with you when you achieve your goals towards quitting!
Stop Smoking Resources
There are lots of free resources for moms trying to quit smoking.
- Quitlines: 1-800-QUITNOW is a free CDC support hotline for people trying to quit smoking. If you are in Georgia, the GA Department of Public Health runs a hotline as well 1 -877-270-STOP. Both are available in multiple languages.
- quitSTART app is a free app available in both Apple Store & Google play that offers lots of ways to support you in your quitting journey.
- SmokefreeMOM is a free texting support program for moms who are trying to quit.
- Smokefree Women is a website with resources & tools to help you quit, including a quit plan & health information.
- Ask your provider about other local resources that are available to you!
This is a tough process to go through especially when pregnant, but quitting is a great way to give your baby the best start to their life!
- Cigarette Smoking During Pregnancy: United States, 2016, CDC
- Georgia Tobacco Quitline (English), Georgia Department of Public Health
- Infant Mortality, CDC
- Línea de Ayuda para Dejar de Fumar de Georgia (Spanish), Georgia Department of Public Health
- Smoking During Pregnancy, CDC
- Smoking and Pregnancy, Understand the Risks, Mayo Clinic
- Smokefree Women, CDC