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What are the real risks of smoking during pregnancy?

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We know it can be really difficult to give up smoking – but it is much better for your baby if you can. Specialist Stop Smoking Advisor Andy talks about the risks and tells you where you can go for help and advice if you want to quit:

“It won’t happen to me my mum smoked all the way through her pregnancy she was fine; I only smoke two a day I have cut down; my baby is protected from smoke; I can’t stop smoking; nicotine replacement therapy is not safe while I am pregnant.”

Ever said or thought some of these things? There is a major risk to you and your baby if you smoke while you are pregnant. You have an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth,  underdevelopment and heart defects:

Placenta problems
The placenta is attached to the uterine wall close to the cervix (the opening of the womb). Smoking when pregnant could lead to severe sudden blood loss (haemorrhage) and you are more likely to require a caesarean.

Problems with muscles and bones
Smoking may lead to a range of problems such as underdeveloped limbs or club foot and cleft lip/pallet

Increased risk of cot death
Babies born to women who have smoked throughout pregnancy are at risk for the first year of life from sudden infant death syndrome also known as cot death or SIDS.

Passive smoking
Your baby may develop asthma, wheezing, and ear infections. One in five cases of cot death is caused by passive smoking .


When you are trying to give up smoking you could use nicotine patches or gum. These contain just one chemical (nicotine) whereas cigarette smoke contains over 4000.

You can also go along and see a specialist stop smoking advisor. We are all friendly and on your side and have the knowledge needed to help you quit smoking for good - it’s never too late to stop!

See your GP or visit the NHS website for more advice

comments

(34)

  • due8thaug couldnt agree more!!! It is not only harmful to your self but the risk to an unborn baby are huge, if you are prepared to have that risk then are fit to give a baby a healthy start in life. Both my parents are heavy smokers, they did not smoke when i was in the house coz they know i would go there!! once baby arrived and still to this day if i found out that they smoked around either of my children i would be so so so angry being a personal trainer and health & nutrition coach they are fully aware of my feelings towards this. We only have 1 body to live in so look after it i say!!

    by FitMumCoach 5 March 2013

  • I stopped smoking the first time I was pregnant and started after I had my miscarriage, this time I'm finding it really difficult to quit, I'm really trying to but it's really difficult. X

    by Lizzy1996 18 February 2013

  • I smoked before I had my son but the minute I found out I was pregnant I stopped immediately. In fact I changed my whole life around completely and became a bit of a health freak. I drank nothing but water and if I did have juice it had to be fresh fruit juice that wasnt from concentrate. I ate fruit every morning for breakfast and snacked on things like apples, carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes! I felt amazing and it did my son the world of good. He is now 2 and the most healthy happy intelligent little man :) Im so proud! And the best bit is that he absolutely ADORES fruit and veg!

    by GeorgesMummy 4 February 2013

  • no one will be smoking around my child not even her dad or they have something coming to them haha :D

    by Caithlin97 28 January 2013

  • i could never smoke when pregnant or around my child x

    by emmax17 24 January 2013

  • Found it so hard to quit at first, but after a few weeks I just went straight off it, didn't want anything to put my baby at risk!

    by Ella_A-J 3 January 2013

  • I used to be a party animal however, when I found out I was pregnant I quit everything smoking and drinking and I feel better for it as I feel like I have a lot more energy and my chest feels so much clearer :D xx

    by Bubbles2013 30 December 2012

  • im a smoker about 4 or 5 a day give or take 1 or 2 and my midwife tells me my babys developing fine hes gaining weight at a good pace and has an incredibly strong heart beat also my blood pressure is always really good it makes no difference wether you smoke or not if it doesnt have a negitive affect on you or the baby i reckon let it be it could always be worse and besides the effects of quitting cold turky can cause severe stress and anxiety and the cause worse problems than the smoking js xx

    by gemgem_93 13 December 2012

  • im a smoker about 4 or 5 a day give or take 1 or 2 and my midwife tells me my babys developing fine hes gaining weight at a good pace and has an incredibly strong heart beat also my blood pressure is always really good it makes no difference wether you smoke or not if it doesnt have a negitive affect on you or the baby i reckon let it be it could always be worse and besides the effects of quitting cold turky can cause severe stress and anxiety and the cause worse problems than the smoking js xx

    by gemgem_93 13 December 2012

  • I got pregnant the first time when i was 15 the second i found out i quit smoking, im now 20 and never looked back :)

    by adeley12 11 December 2012

  • It basically comes down to 1 thing... Cigarettes or your child?? ... and its complete BS when people say "it wont harm myy baby cause my mum smoked when she was pregnant with me and im fine" as i have heard that countless times. But clearly you are NOT okay if you would harm your baby in that mannor

    by Lissa 21 November 2012

  • I quit when i was 7 m .. one day i just said i am stopping thats it !My mother smoked with me and i am soo healthy so in my opinion it is better to quit but its not too bad if you smoke too .. but not 20 a day thats way too much

    by 18andpregnat 19 November 2012

  • I made my bf quit as soon as i saw the little line saying positive! Fortunately for me he was happy to do so :) xx

    by Cherry_Tree 27 October 2012

  • i stopped the minute the test ssaid positive, haven't even thought about one since x

    by Rosie_Mihell 26 October 2012

  • i stopped the minute the test ssaid positive, haven't even thought about one since x

    by Rosie_Mihell 26 October 2012

  • don't agree with it , but people have a right to do as they please and it's their choice no matter what...

    by ErinnLouisee 12 October 2012

  • i was a smoker when i found out i was pregnant & stopped. I spoke to my midwife about quitting and it turns out the withdrawal effects of quitting smoking where actually more harmful to me and the baby than exposing the baby to the cigarettes, the best advice is to cut down as much as possible but to not cause any excessive stress on mother & baby. good luck girls! x

    by jodiieboo-x 6 October 2012

  • It's way too many of them.. best way is to sto p!!!!

    by indre 5 October 2012

  • smoking during pregnancy CAN lead to quite a few risks but i smoked all the way through my pregnancy and my babie's were both healthy and happy.

    by TeenMommy 26 September 2012

  • i smoke im almost half way and for me stopping is the hardest thing ever im done to only 4 a day if anyone has any tip please comment i reali want to stop xx

    by chanmummy2be 7 September 2012

  • Smocking in pregnancy i one of worst things you can do as far as im conserned, its hard to quit but you do what's for the baby and you can do it if you want to

    by georgie21 28 August 2012

  • I can understand that people get addicted to smoking but think about it why did you smoke in the first place, peer pressure from school, fitting in a group? So you would risk your child's life to be apart of a group. STOP SMOKING FOR YOUR BABY'S SAKE!! If you truly wish that your child will be healthy put down the cancer stick and get healthy for your child's sake.

    by 1stAprilBubz 23 August 2012

  • it shouldnt be difficult to stop smoking when you're pregnant! It should be automatic x

    by BeckieBoo 13 August 2012

  • I'm so glad i didn't smoke when i was pregnant. But i do admit i socially smoke BUT never around my child!!!

    by leelee123 10 August 2012

  • I dont think people should smoke at all! Especialy not whilst being pregnant! I have stopped my babys great grandma and grandad from coming near me and my bump, i told them tht if they want to see the baby then they have to stop smoking! I dont like it and its hard but i have to

    by rosem94 4 August 2012

  • I hated when people smoked around me because it playes havoc with my asthma but since I've got pregnant Ive been a lot more protective of my little bump and ask people to move away from me. Although its not for me people arent going to stop but I think when your pregnant you should realise its not just your own health at risk.

    by mummy_lewis 3 August 2012

  • I know its hard to quit smoking but it isnt fair on the baby...if i found out i was pregnant the first thing i would do is quit. And most women wont drink during pregnancy but would smoke..really dont get that either :s

    by x_shannon_x 3 August 2012

  • Some people smoke during pregnancy, some don't, that is their choice. But personally, I think smoking during pregnancy, is cruel, selfish and disgusting. Many of my friends who are pregnant, still smoke, and it is awful. They KNOW the damage it can do to their unborn child, yet still smoke! It really frustrates me and upsets me, knowing that people are smoking during pregnancy, not caring, and then there is people like me, who don't smoke, don't drink, eat healthily etc: yet we miscarry our babies or/and can't conceive :| Sorry, rant over. x

    by Gemma_ 30 July 2012

  • i wish more people knew the actuall risks

    by mummyzoe 28 July 2012

  • Smocking in pregnancy i one of worst things you can do as far as im conserned, its hard to quit but you do what's for the baby and you can do it if you want to

    by georgie21 24 July 2012

  • i am attempting to stop but i do like my cigarettes but i have some motivation to stop now!

    by ScaredMum2be 20 July 2012

  • Dont agree with smoking during pregnancy at all, no matter how hard it is you should be responsible enough to quit for your child.

    by amyw_x 20 July 2012

  • I don't see how someone can smoke openly, not attempting to quit during pregnancy. It's very selfish. x

    by KellyEliza 8 July 2012

  • Smoking during pregnancy is disgusting if im honest

    by due8thaug 3 July 2012