Most people know that smoking causes cancer, heart disease, and other major health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking during pregnancy can cause various health problems including premature birth (being born too early), some birth defects, and can result in infant death.
- Smoking makes it harder for a woman to get pregnant.
- Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than other women to have a miscarriage.
- Smoking can affect the placenta; the source of the baby's food and oxygen during pregnancy. For example, the placenta can separate from the womb too early, causing bleeding, which is dangerous to the mother and baby.
- Smoking during pregnancy can cause a baby to be premature or to have low birth weight — making it more likely the baby will be sick and have to stay in the hospital longer. A few babies may even die.
- Smoking during and after pregnancy is a risk factor for an unexplained death of an infant known as, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Babies born to women who smoke are more likely to have certain birth defects, such as a cleft lip or cleft palate.
Quitting smoking can be hard, but it is one of the best ways a woman can protect herself and her baby’s health. When you stop smoking you will feel better and provide a healthier environment —
- Your baby will get more oxygen, even after just one day of not smoking.
- There is less risk that your baby will be born too early.
- There is a better chance that your baby will come home from the hospital with you.
- You will be less likely to develop heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and other smoke-related diseases.
- You will be more likely to live to know your grandchildren.
- You will have more energy and breathe more easily.
- Your clothes, hair, and home will smell better.
- Your food will taste better.
- You will have more money that you can spend on other things.
- You will feel good about what you have done for yourself and your baby.
- You will make your home and car smoke-free.
It is also important to protect yourself and your family environment from exposure to secondhand smoke. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be harmful. The only way to fully protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of other people’s smoke is through 100% smoke-free environments.
If you or someone you know wants to quit smoking, talk to your doctor, nurse, or health care provider about strategies. For support in quitting, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources, please call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669); TTY 1-800-332-8615 or for more smoking cessation resources, please visit www.makesmokinghistory.org.
This information is provided by the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program within the Department of Public Health.