Smoking and Pregnancy: Understand The Risks And More

smoking and pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy puts both the individual and the unborn child at risk of health issues. Whereas, passive smoking has the potential to harm both the mother and the unborn child.

If a woman smokes while she is pregnant, then she has a higher chance of miscarriage and premature labour. Furthermore, she’s twice as likely to give birth to a low-birth-weight baby as compared to a woman who does not smoke. Low birth weight newborns are more likely to die and are more susceptible to infection, breathing problems, and long-term health issues as adults.

However, no proof reducing the quantity or strength of cigarettes a mother smokes during pregnancy lessens the hazards to the fetus. For the sake of the mother’s and baby’s health, quitting smoking as soon as possible is a far better alternative.

Pregnancy and Smoking: Complications

Cigarettes consist of dangerous chemicals, some of which include – nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar. Smoking while pregnant raises the chance of problems, some of which can be fatal to both the mother and the baby.
Let’s learn about the dangers of smoking when expecting a child.

1. Getting Pregnant

If a woman wants to get pregnant, eliminating smoking should be a top priority. Smoking can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant in the first place. Even in the first trimester, smoking has an impact on the unborn child’s health. When compared to nonsmokers, both male and female smokers are nearly twice as likely to experience fertility problems.

The fetus is potentially susceptible to secondhand smoking. Secondhand smoke is categorized as a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It’s known to cause cancer in people, hence it’s classified as such.

2. Miscarriage and Stillbirth

At any stage, the loss of a pregnancy is a devastating event. The first three months of pregnancy are the most common time for miscarriages. They can happen after 20 weeks of pregnancy in rare cases. A stillbirth is a medical term for this situation.

Smoking increases the risk of early miscarriage and stillbirth, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cigarette smoke contains hazardous substances that are frequently to blame.
Other smoking-related risks include placental issues and fetal growth delays. Miscarriage or stillbirth can occur as a result of these conditions.

3. Ectopic Pregnancy

Nicotine may cause fallopian tube contractions. These contractions have the potential to block the passage of an embryo. Ectopic pregnancy is one possible outcome. When a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, either in the fallopian tube or in the abdomen, this is called an extrauterine pregnancy. In this case, the embryo must be removed to prevent the mother’s life from being jeopardized.

4. Placental Abruption

The placenta is a “lifeline” structure that develops during pregnancy to deliver nourishment and oxygen to the fetus. Smoking during pregnancy is a strong risk factor for a variety of placental problems. Placental abruption is one of these issues.

The placenta separates from the uterus before childbirth in this syndrome. Moreover, placenta abruption can result in serious bleeding and put both the mother’s and the baby’s lives in danger. It can’t be reattached with surgery or treatment. Despite placenta abruption, immediate medical intervention may help raise the chances of a healthy birth.

5. Placenta Previa

Placenta previa is also caused by smoking while pregnant.

The placenta grows towards the top of the womb in the uterus during pregnancy. After this, the cervix is now free to deliver the baby. Further while smoking, the placenta can linger in the lower region of the uterus, partially or completely covering the cervix. The placenta frequently tears, resulting in severe bleeding and deprivation of crucial nutrients and oxygen to the fetus.

6. Preterm Birth

Preterm birth can be caused by smoking during pregnancy, according to the CDC. When a child is born too soon, this is known as premature birth. Premature delivery is associated with several health hazards. These can include the following:

  • Deficits in vision and hearing
  • Mental disability
  • Issues with learning and behaviour
  • Complications with a high risk of death

Bonus Read: Be more aware of the symptoms and causes of premature birth.

7. Low Birth Weight

Smoking while you are pregnant also results in low birth weight in newborns. This isn’t simply about giving birth to a small child. Low birth rates can contribute to a variety of health issues and disabilities. The frequency of deaths caused by low birth weight has decreased thanks to advances in medical care. However, it is still a dangerous condition that can lead to:

  • Developmental delay
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Ailments of the hearing or vision

Low birth weight might result in the newborn’s death in extreme situations.

Women who quit smoking before getting pregnant had a lower risk of having a low-birth-weight baby. Whereas, women who quit smoking during pregnancy have a lower risk of having babies with low birth weight than women who continue to smoke.

8. Birth Defects

If you smoke while pregnant, your kid is more likely to be born with birth abnormalities. Congenital heart malformations and heart-structure disorders are the most common sorts of problems. Cleft lip and cleft palate are two other health concerns connected to smoking while pregnant.

Pregnancy and Smoking: Effects on the Fetus

When you smoke a cigarette while pregnant, you deprive your unborn child of oxygen and expose them to a cocktail of toxins, including cancer-causing compounds.

Cigarette smoke has many negative consequences on the fetus, including:

  • Carbon monoxide and nicotine consumption, both of which restrict oxygen delivery
  • Delayed development and growth
  • Cleft lip and palate are more likely to occur
  • For at least an hour after smoking one cigarette, baby movements in the womb are reduced
  • The placenta’s development and function are hampered
  • Alterations in the brain and lungs of the infant

Pregnancy and Smoking: Effects on Breastfeeding

Over two-thirds of pregnant women who quit smoking resume it after their babies are born. It is really important to quit smoking when breastfeeding.

The following are some of the issues that might arise from smoking while breastfeeding:

  • Some of the toxins in cigarettes can pass through your breastmilk to your kid
  • Smoking can cause a decrease in milk output
  • Smoking mothers are less likely to breastfeed their children and are more likely to wean them earlier than non-smoking mothers.

Pregnancy and Smoking: Long-Term Problems for the Child

Smoking while pregnant can have a long-term negative impact on your child’s health. The following are some of the possible health effects:

  • Weaker lungs
  • Higher risk of asthma
  • Low birth weight has been linked to adult-onset cardiac disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure
  • In childhood, there is a greater chance of being overweight or obese
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is more likely to occur

Pregnancy and Smoking: Quitting Smoking

A pregnant lady should avoid smoking as much as possible. When a pregnancy is planned or confirmed, less than half of women quit. Seek counsel and information from a health professional if you need assistance quitting.

Quit Specialists will offer free assistance throughout your pregnancy and for a period afterwards to help you stay smoke-free. Don’t give up if you’re having trouble quitting smoking. Stopping smoking by the fourth month of pregnancy may lessen some of the hazards, such as low birth weight and early birth.

Pregnancy and Smoking: Nicotine Replacement Therapy

It is suggested that you try to quit without medications first. If you are unable to quit, nicotine replacement treatment (gum, lozenges, mouth spray, an inhalator, or 16-hour patches) may be used to assist you. While using these products is thought to be safer than smoking, even a small amount of nicotine may pose a risk to your baby.

If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about the risks and advantages of utilizing nicotine replacement therapy. Even better, the Quit Specialists can assist you in determining which support is appropriate for you.

Pregnancy and Smoking: Postpartum Relapse

It can be difficult to adjust to life with a newborn. Many pregnant women who quit smoking relapse shortly after giving birth. For assistance, seek counselling.

If you smoke after giving birth, avoid smoking around your infant or in confined locations where your baby will be, such as your house or car. If you smoke and breastfeed your infant, keep in mind that nicotine and other poisons will be passed through your breast milk to him or her.

Use a shorter-acting product like gum or lozenges if you’ve quit smoking but want to continue using nicotine replacement while breastfeeding. For three hours after using the product, pump and discard any breast milk you generate.

Quitting smoking is rarely easy. To quit for good may require more than one attempt. But keep in mind that it is possible — and your family will gain as a result.

Pregnancy and Smoking: Resources to help you Quit

Here are some resources to assist you in quitting smoking if you’re trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant:

  • Invest in relevant eBooks
  • Look into apps that can assist you with quitting
  • has smoking cessation advice and community support


If you smoke while pregnant, you put yourself at risk for a variety of issues, including miscarriage and early labour. Babies whose mothers smoke during pregnancy are more likely to succumb to SIDS, have weaker lungs, and be born prematurely.


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