Quitting smoking before pregnancy

KEY POINTS

  • Smoking is addictive and harmful. Quitting smoking can help reduce your risk for cancer and other diseases.

  • Smoking during pregnancy can cause problems for your baby, like premature birth and birth defects. It also increases your baby’s risk for SIDS.

  • If you’re pregnant, don’t smoke and stay away from secondhand smoke.

  • If you need help to quit, tell your health care provider. Make a quit plan to keep you on track to help you get and stay smoke-free.

How is smoking harmful to your body?

Cigarettes and cigars are made from tobacco leaves containing a drug called nicotine, which is addicting. Smoke from tobacco contains more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 250 of these are harmful to smokers and nonsmokers. At least 69 of them can cause cancer. Breathing even a little tobacco smoke can be harmful.

Smoking harms nearly every organ and can cause serious health conditions, including:

  • Addiction
  • Cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, kidneys and other organs. It also causes cancer of the blood (also called leukemia).
  • Heart disease and lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Gum disease
  • Eye problems that can lead to blindness

How can smoking harm your pregnancy?

If you smoke during pregnancy, you’re more likely than nonsmokers to have:

How can smoking affect your baby?

When you smoke during pregnancy, chemicals like nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar pass through the placenta and umbilical cord to your baby. These chemicals can lessen the amount of oxygen that your baby gets. This can slow your baby’s growth before birth and can damage your baby’s lungs and brain. If you smoke during pregnancy, your baby is more likely to:

If you smoke and are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, tell your provider. Your provider can help you quit.

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is smoke you breathe in from someone else’s cigarette, cigar, pipe or other tobacco product. Being around secondhand smoke during pregnancy is dangerous and can cause your baby to be born with low birthweight or birth defects.

Secondhand smoke also is dangerous to your baby after birth. Babies exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely than babies who aren’t to die of SIDS. They’re also at risk for:

  • Asthma.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Ear infections.
  • Pneumonia.

What are e-cigarettes?

When you use an electronic cigarette (also called e-cigarette, vaping, or Juuling), you puff on a mouthpiece to heat up a liquid that usually includes nicotine, flavors and other chemicals. This creates a mist or vapor that you inhale. You can become addicted to e-cigarettes with nicotine.

If you drink or touch the liquid in e-cigarettes, it can cause nicotine poisoning. Signs include a fast or slow heartbeat, belly cramps, breathing problems, headache or vomiting.  If you think you have nicotine poisoning, call emergency services (911) or Poison Control (800-222-1222) right away.

Is it safe to use e-cigarettes during pregnancy?

No. The nicotine, flavors and other chemicals in e-cigarettes can harm you and your baby. Breathing in someone else’s e-cigarette vapor also may be harmful. More research is needed to better understand how e-cigarettes affect women and babies during pregnancy.

If you’re pregnant and using e-cigarettes, talk to your health care provider about quitting.

Can you just cut down on smoking? Or do you have to quit?

It is true that the less you smoke, the better for your baby. But quitting is best.

The sooner you quit smoking during pregnancy, the healthier you and your baby can be. It’s best to quit smoking before getting pregnant.

On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Quitting smoking reduces your risk of cancer and other diseases.  And quitting smoking can help you have positive changes with your teeth, skin, vision, muscles, bones and energy.

If you need help to quit smoking, tell your health care provider.

What are some tips to help you quit smoking?

Making a personalized quit plan is a great way to help you quit smoking. It can help increase your chances of quitting and staying smoke-free. Visit smokefree.gov/build-your-quit-plan to get your plan started. Here are some things to include:

  • A quit day. On this day, throw away all your cigarettes or cigars, lighters and ashtrays. Choose a day within the next 2 weeks so you have time to get ready.
  • Your reasons for quitting. Look at the list when you think about smoking.  
  • Triggers that make you want to smoke. Triggers can be emotional feelings, activities or social events. Knowing what your triggers are can help you learn ways to manage them.
  • Ways to deal with cravings. For example, go for a walk to help keep your mind off smoking or use a stress ball to keep your hands busy. Snack or chew gum to keep something in your mouth.
  • Get rid of reminders, like matches and ashtrays. Wash your clothes and clean your car.
  • Tools to help you quit. Ask your health care provider about things like patches, gum, nasal spray and medicines. Don't start using these without your health care provider's OK, especially if you're pregnant. Use apps and quitlines. Smokefree.gov has a free text message program for pregnant women who are trying to quit. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for advice from a quit smoking counselor. Look for programs in your community or workplace.
  • Telling your family, friends and loved ones about your plan to quit smoking for support.

Other things to do to help you quit:

  • Drink lots of water. Drink water or tea instead of coffee or alcohol.
  • Try to manage your stress. Stress can be a trigger for smoking.
  • Reward yourself for your progress. Celebrate milestones, like 1 day, 1 week and 1 month of being smoke-free.

If you have trouble quitting, keep trying! You’re doing what’s best for you and your baby.