Unveiling the Truth: Smoking’s Devastating Impact on Pregnancy and Your Baby

Pregnancy is an extraordinary journey filled with joy and anticipation. It is during this time that the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby become paramount. However, there is a dark cloud that hangs over the experience of pregnancy – smoking.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the devastating impact of smoking on pregnancy and your baby. We will explore the risks and complications associated with smoking, the effects on the unborn baby, the importance of quitting smoking, and the available resources to help you on your journey to a smoke-free life.

The Risks of Smoking During Pregnancy

When a pregnant woman smokes, she exposes herself and her unborn child to a multitude of serious health problems. The risks are numerous and can have lifelong repercussions for both mother and baby.

Increased Risk of Pregnancy Complications

Women who smoke during pregnancy are at an increased risk of various complications. These include ectopic pregnancy, fetal death, spontaneous abortion, problems with the placenta, premature rupture of the membranes, and premature labor. The more cigarettes a pregnant woman smokes, the greater the risk of these complications.

Effects on the Unborn Baby

Every time a pregnant woman smokes a cigarette, she reduces the oxygen supply to her unborn baby and exposes the baby to toxic chemicals present in cigarette smoke. This can lead to a myriad of damaging effects, including reduced oxygen supply and nutrients, slower growth and development, increased risk of birth defects, weakened movements in the womb, impaired development of the placenta, and harm to the baby’s brain and lungs.

Smoking and Breastfeeding

Smoking while breastfeeding can also have negative consequences for both the mother and the baby. Nicotine and other chemicals from cigarette smoke can pass into breast milk, reducing its quality and production. This increases the baby’s risk of health problems such as colic and disrupted sleep patterns. Mothers who smoke are also less likely to breastfeed and tend to wean their children earlier than non-smoking mothers.

Long-term Effects on the Child

The impact of smoking during pregnancy extends far beyond the nine months of gestation. Children exposed to smoking in utero may face long-term health issues that can persist into adulthood.

Weaker Lungs and Increased Risk of Asthma

Children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy often have weaker lungs and a higher risk of developing asthma. The damage caused by prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke can affect the respiratory system, making children more susceptible to respiratory problems throughout their lives.

Low Birth Weight and Future Health Problems

Low birth weight is a common consequence of smoking during pregnancy. These babies are at a greater risk of death and are more vulnerable to infections, breathing difficulties, and long-term health problems in adulthood. Low birth weight has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity later in life.

Increased Risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI)

Perhaps one of the most alarming consequences of smoking during pregnancy is the increased risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI). Babies born to mothers who smoke are up to three times more likely to experience SUDI, also known as SIDS or cot death. This tragic loss of life highlights the urgent need to prioritize smoking cessation during pregnancy.

Other Potential Health Issues

In addition to the aforementioned risks, children exposed to smoking in utero may also face a higher risk of being overweight or obese in childhood and developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The Importance of Quitting Smoking

Given the myriad risks and complications associated with smoking during pregnancy, quitting smoking becomes a matter of utmost importance. The sooner a pregnant woman quits smoking, the better the chances of protecting her health and the health of her baby.

Creating a Quitting Plan

Quitting smoking is a challenging endeavor, but it is not impossible. It is essential to create a quitting plan in collaboration with your doctor or maternity care team. They can provide guidance, support, and resources to help you on your journey towards a smoke-free life. Quitline counsellors are also available to provide free support during your pregnancy and beyond.

The Benefits of Quitting

Quitting smoking during pregnancy offers numerous benefits. It reduces the risk of pregnancy complications, increases the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby with a normal birth weight, and improves the overall health and well-being of both mother and child. Even quitting later in pregnancy can still have positive effects, allowing more oxygen to reach the baby and reducing harm.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) during Pregnancy

While it is recommended to try quitting smoking without medication, some women may require additional support. Nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine gum, lozenges, mouth spray, inhalators, or patches, can be considered under the guidance of a healthcare professional. However, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of NRT during pregnancy, as even a smaller amount of nicotine may not be entirely risk-free for the baby.

Where to Find Help

Quitting smoking is a journey that requires support and resources. There are numerous avenues available to help pregnant women quit smoking and maintain a smoke-free life.

Healthcare Professionals

Your GP, obstetrician, or maternity care team are valuable resources for guidance and support. They can provide personalized advice, develop a quitting plan, and monitor your progress throughout your pregnancy.


Quitline is an invaluable resource for pregnant women looking to quit smoking. They offer free support and counseling services to help you navigate the challenges of quitting. Quitline counsellors are trained professionals who understand the unique struggles faced by pregnant women and can provide the guidance and encouragement needed to succeed.


Smoking during pregnancy poses significant risks and complications for both the mother and the baby. From pregnancy complications to long-term health issues, the detrimental effects of smoking cannot be ignored. However, with determination, support, and the right resources, quitting smoking is possible.

By prioritizing your health and the health of your baby, you can take the first step towards a smoke-free life. Reach out to healthcare professionals, utilize support services like Quitline, and embrace the journey of transformation and empowerment. Your decision to quit smoking will have a profound impact on the well-being and future of both you and your baby.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. With the right support and resources, you can overcome the challenges and create a healthier, smoke-free future for yourself and your little one. Call us now at 855-334-6120.