Smoking and pregnancy
One of the best ways to protect your baby is not to smoke when pregnant.
Cigarettes contain over 4,000 harmful toxins including carbon monoxide and tar which can damage your baby’s health.
Smoking during pregnancy restricts oxygen to your baby making their heart beat faster.
There is no safe limit, even a few cigarettes are harmful. The best way to protect you and your baby is to stop smoking completely.
You may find it easier to stop smoking if your partner or anyone else you live with stops smoking with you.
Stop smoking with the Help2Quit Stop Smoking Service
Benefits of stopping smoking
After you stop smoking:
- carbon monoxide and other harmful toxins will clear from your body benefiting both you and your baby's health straightaway
- both yours and your baby’s oxygen levels will return to normal
- you will be more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and birth including a reduction in risk of stillbirth
- your baby will be less likely to be born with a low birth weight
- your baby is less likely to be born too early. Babies born too early may have additional health and development problems requiring special hospital care
- you will reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- the risk of future health problems in children will be reduced, such as respiratory problems
- your risk of developing a blood clot will be reduced
- your risk of developing other smoking related illness including heart disease stroke and cancer will be reduced
- a smoker who spends around £10 a day will save over £3500 a year
It's best to give up smoking as soon as possible in pregnancy, but stopping at any time in pregnancy benefits you and your baby.
Stopping smoking during pregnancy also reduces the chances that your child will grow up to become a smoker. Children whose parents smoke are three times more likely to become smokers themselves.
Stopping smoking is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of children starting to smoke.
Second hand smoke
Keep your house smoke free. Smoke from other people's cigarettes can be harmful to you and your baby. Advise any smokers in the house to stop smoking or smoke well away from the house as smoke drifting into the house can be harmful. This reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) also known as cot death.
Evidence also shows that children exposed to second hand smoke can be at risk of:
- asthma and other respiratory symptoms including respiratory tract infections
- middle ear disease
Second hand smoke exposure occurs most in the home, closely followed by the car. In Jersey it is illegal to smoke in a car carrying young people under the age of 18.
Your midwife or other healthcare professionals can give you advice about protecting yourself, your baby and other people in your household from second hand smoke.
Carbon monoxide testing
Carbon monoxide is a toxic, colourless, odourless gas found in cigarette smoke which reduces the body’s ability to carry oxygen. It can also be found in faulty gas boilers and exhaust fumes from cars.
When you smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke carbon monoxide, harmful poisons and nicotine cross the placenta to your baby. Less oxygen and nutrients reach your baby and they may not grow as well as expected.
At your midwife appointments, during and after pregnancy you will be offered a breath test to assess your exposure to carbon monoxide. If your partner or other household members smoke, they will also be offered a breath test and a referral to the
Help2Quit Stop Smoking Service.
Support to stop smoking
We have a free stop smoking service, providing friendly, non-judgemental advice and support.
You receive support from the specialist stop smoking team who can help you to stop smoking and stay smoke free during your pregnancy and beyond.
Stopping smoking can be difficult, but with support you’re more likely to stop for good.
Your midwife can refer you and other smoking contacts for support, or you can contact the service yourself.
Telephone: 0800 735 1155
Help2Quit Stop Smoking Service
Nicotine replacement therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a clean form of nicotine, provided in smaller doses that is absorbed more slowly and is much safer than smoking. It does not contain all of the harmful toxins found in cigarettes. NRT makes stopping smoking easier by reducing urges to smoke and other withdrawal symptoms such as irritability.
You may find using NRT helpful as well as receiving support from one of our specialist nurses. It's provided free of charge. We can
answer any queries you have about NRT and how to use it during pregnancy and advise you on the range of NRT available which includes:
- mouth and nasal spray
You should only use NRT patches for 16 hours in a 24 hours and avoid using liquorice flavoured NRT.
Before using NRT, speak to your midwife, GP, pharmacist or specialist stop smoking nurse.
E-cigarettes in pregnancy
Licensed NRT products are the recommended option to stop smoking in pregnancy. However, you may decide to use an electronic cigarette, also known as a vape.
The main difference between e-cigarettes and smoking is there is no burning, so no tar or carbon monoxide is inhaled.
The long-term effects and risks to unborn babies is unknown, however, current evidence shows that vaping e-cigarettes is less harmful and carries less risk than smoking tobacco.
If you prefer to use an e-cigarette to stop smoking, this is safer for you and your baby than continuing to smoke.
Using e-cigarettes before, during and after pregnancy on the Smoke Free Action website