Congratulations on your news!

If you smoke, quitting is one of the first steps you can take towards having a healthy pregnancy.

Most mums know that smoking whilst pregnant isn’t good for them or their baby – but that doesn’t make it easier to quit. And pregnancy can be a stressful time, especially with everyone giving you different advice.

Hopefully this page will provide you with clear information on the harm smoking is causing to you and your baby and why quitting is so important for you both.

You and Your Baby are Connected

Your baby depends on you for everything – you supply your baby with food, oxygen and nutrients to enable them to grow.

What you put into your body will affect the growth and health of the baby. This means the toxins and chemicals which enter your body from smoking, or second-hand smoke, will pass from your bloodstream, through the umbilicial cord and then placenta, directly to your baby’s bloodstream

Unfortunately your baby is not protected from cigarette smoke whilst in the amniotic sac (bag of fluid made of membranes).

If you smoke during pregnancy, when your baby is born it will go through nicotine withdrawal. This can make them very stress and irritable, and you may struggle to stop them crying.

 

The health risks of smoking to the body

Click on the body parts to reveal the risks!

Effects of smoking on Mothers

Smokers are five times more likely to develop eclampsia, which is a major cause of maternal mortality in the UK.

Effects of smoking on Mums' lungs

Smoking or secondhand smoke goes into the lungs which damages them and can make breathing more difficult.

Effects of smoking on babies' development

Due to the oxygen in mum’s blood being replaced by carbon monoxide, the supply of oxygen to the baby is restricted.  This can affect the babies growth.

Smokers are more likely to deliver babies prematurely and at a much lower birth weight – up to 250g smaller. This could mean a poorly, weaker baby who struggles with the delivery – which in turn means a difficult birth for the mother.

Effects of smoking on babies' lungs

Smoking during pregnancy can damage your babies airways before they are born.

If you smoke during pregnancy your child may develop smaller airways, meaning they will struggle for oxygen in the womb. It will also make them more vulnerable to breathing problems such as asthma and chest infections when they are born.

Research has shown airflow through the breathing tubes is on average 20% lower in babies born to mothers who smoke.

Effects of smoking on babies' heart

A babys heart beats faster when the Mum is a smoker, this is to make up for getting less oxygen.  This means that essentially the babies heart is working much harder to receive oxygen around the body.

Effects of smoking on babies' bloodstream

Over 4000 chemicals are absorbed into your bloodstream including chemicals like ammonia (toilet cleaner) and arsenic (poison) – 80% of these toxins are invisible.  Another chemical is carbon monoxide, which replaces oxygen in your blood and starves the body tissue of oxygen vital to repair, regenerate and daily normal living. This means that the oxygen supply to your baby may be less and restricted.

Effects of smoking on the placenta

The placenta is the lifeline for the baby. Smoking increases risks of bleeding, placenta abruption (detaches/peels away) and placenta praevia (low lying placenta).

Women who stop smoking during the first three months of pregnancy have a lower rate of placental abruption and a lower rate of placenta praevia compared to continuing smokers. It is never too late to stop smoking whilst pregnant.

Effects of smoking on Mothers

Smokers are five times more likely to develop eclampsia, which is a major cause of maternal mortality in the UK.

Effects of smoking on Mums' lungs

Smoking or secondhand smoke goes into the lungs which damages them and can make breathing more difficult.

Effects of smoking on babies' development

Due to the oxygen in mum’s blood being replaced by carbon monoxide, the supply of oxygen to the baby is restricted.  This can affect the babies growth.

Smokers are more likely to deliver babies prematurely and at a much lower birth weight – up to 250g smaller. This could mean a poorly, weaker baby who struggles with the delivery – which in turn means a difficult birth for the mother.

Effects of smoking on babies' lungs

Smoking during pregnancy can damage your babies airways before they are born.

If you smoke during pregnancy your child may develop smaller airways, meaning they will struggle for oxygen in the womb. It will also make them more vulnerable to breathing problems such as asthma and chest infections when they are born.

Research has shown airflow through the breathing tubes is on average 20% lower in babies born to mothers who smoke.

Effects of smoking on babies' heart

A babys heart beats faster when the Mum is a smoker, this is to make up for getting less oxygen.  This means that essentially the babies heart is working much harder to receive oxygen around the body.

Effects of smoking on babies' bloodstream

Over 4000 chemicals are absorbed into your bloodstream including chemicals like ammonia (toilet cleaner) and arsenic (poison) – 80% of these toxins are invisible.  Another chemical is carbon monoxide, which replaces oxygen in your blood and starves the body tissue of oxygen vital to repair, regenerate and daily normal living. This means that the oxygen supply to your baby may be less and restricted.

Effects of smoking on the placenta

The placenta is the lifeline for the baby. Smoking increases risks of bleeding, placenta abruption (detaches/peels away) and placenta praevia (low lying placenta).

Women who stop smoking during the first three months of pregnancy have a lower rate of placental abruption and a lower rate of placenta praevia compared to continuing smokers. It is never too late to stop smoking whilst pregnant.

Second Hand Smoke

Exposure to cigarette smoke can be just as harmful to your unborn baby and children as smoking during pregnancy.

Opening windows or smoking by the backdoor doesn’t help reduce the exposure to the smoke. 80% of the toxins in cigarettes are invisible and it is impossible to stop the smoke getting back inside the house. There are also dangers to children where smoke has permiated fabrics, which is why it is also important not to smoke in your car.

It has been shown that exposure to second-hand smoke increases the number of hospital visits for children in their first five years.

Children are more prone to ear and throat infections, they are more likely to be wheezy and suffer from asthma. They are also more vulnerable to bronchitis and pneumonia.

Research is also showing that there can be almost double the risk of meningococcal meningitis or septicaemia in children through second-hand smoke.

Babies who breathe second-hand smoke also have a 20% increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

What to expect from the Stop Smoking Service

Your first appointment with one of our advisors will ideally be face-to-face, which will allow us to take a Carbon Monoxide reading, and could last up to 45 minutes.

This appointment will be one-to-one to allow our advisor to focus on your needs.

Your advisor will run through the harms of smoking to yourself and your baby, as well as supporting you to make behavioural and habitual changes. They will also help you to decide what Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products you will use to aid your quit.

Then, you will have follow up appointments weekly or fortnightly. For the main part of the programme, we will see you regularly for around 3 months. Following on from this, we can still support you for monthly appointments, right up until one month after your baby is born.

Non-Smoker – High Carbon Monoxide Reading

Every pregnant women, regardless of whether or not they smoke, should have a Carbon Monoxide (CO) reading done at their antenatal appointments with their Midwife or Health Visitor.

Very occassionally, a non-smoker can give a reading which indicates CO levels similar to that of a smoker. In pregnant women, a non-smoker should give a reading of 0-3ppm. 4-6ppm is higher than preferred but normally explainable. Anything higher than 6ppm causes slightly more concern.

If at your appointment, you give a higher reading than expected, below are a few things to consider and take action on:

  • Have you been exposed to second-hand smoke?
  • Faulty boiler or appliances. A high CO reading could indicate a gas leak from sometwhere. It is best to have your boiler and applicances (such as a gas cooker, open fire, water heaters, cookers) checked and serviced to ensure you and your family are not at risk
  • Exposure to car fumes. Sitting or driving in heavy traffic could cause a slight increase in your CO levels
  • Lactose Intolerance. Lactose Intolerance has been known to increase a CO reading
  • Has there been a change in ventilation in your home recently? Have you installed double glazing for example – this can suddenly change the air-flow in your house allowing gases to build up

Your midwife or health visitor should do several tests to see if it is perhaps the machine. If you are concerned, they will refer you to the Stop Smoking Service where you can have another reading taken and can discuss the possibilities.

However, if you suddenly start to experience food poisoning or flu-like symptons such as: tension-type headache, dizziness, feeling or being sick, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain or shortness of breath, please consult your GP – or go to A&E if you suspect high level of CO exposure.

If you suspect a gas leak in your home, please contact the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Gas Safety Advice line on 0800 300 363 . More information about gas health and safety can be found at https://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/#

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