Smoking During Pregnancy – Risks, Tips to Quit Smoking

Smoking during Pregnancy

The news of being pregnant is often met with immense joy and anticipation. For most women, it is a dream come true. Pregnancy is a time of joy, hope and happiness. During this time, the new mother is cautious of her habits, and is often willing to give up many, to protect the health of her child.

In this article we shall discuss the facts about Smoking during pregnancy.


  1. Is it safe to smoke during pregnancy?
  2. What are the effects of smoking during pregnancy?
  3. What are the effects of passive smoking during pregnancy?
  4. What are some tips to quit smoking during pregnancy?
  5. What are e-cigarettes? Are they safe during pregnancy?

Is it safe to smoke during pregnancy?

Smoking during pregnancy is absolutely contra-indicated. It can lead to abominable side effects for both the baby and the mother. The adverse effects of cigarette smoke are primarily driven by carbon monoxide, tar and nicotine. 

However there is no conclusive evidence that smoking before pregnancy can cause any harm to the baby, as long as the mother abstains from the habit after the confirmation of pregnancy.

If the mother has smoked before finding out she is pregnant, it is important to let the doctor know about this. Quitting smoking as early as possible after confirming pregnancy can radically reduce the risks.

What are the effects of smoking during pregnancy?

Smoking during pregnancy is extremely dangerous and must be refrained from, as early as possible. It can cause the following adverse effects:

  • Respiratory Problems: Sleep apnoea, predisposition to develop asthma, tuberculosis etc in later life.
  • Immunodeficiency- the child becomes more susceptible to infections
  • Congenital defects- heart diseases, cleft lip etc.
  • Developmental anomalies- physical and mental retardation
  • SIDS – sudden infant death syndrome
  • Low birth weight baby
  • Preterm delivery
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abruptio placenta
  • Placenta previa
  • Miscarriage
  • Complications of labour
  • Respiratory problems for the mother
  • IUGR- Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction 

What are the effects of passive smoking during pregnancy?

Even if the mother does not smoke per se, she may be affected by the smoke inhaled when others around her smoke. This can lead to an increased risk of developing asthma, respiratory tuberculosis, and right-sided heart problems due to lung diseases. It is also associated with lower IQ. 

Even third hand smoking is associated with dangerous effects to the baby. Third hand smoking refers to the harmful residues which get inhaled after a smoking session. It can be harmful as the babies may develop asthma, learning problems and cancers later in life.

What are some tips to quit smoking during pregnancy?

For a chronic smoker, quitting never comes easy. It requires a lot of will, and perseverance to adhere to a smoke-free life. Mothers-to-be are often determined and would go to any lengths to protect their unborn baby. Some of the tips to ease this transition from smoking to abstinence of smoking are:

  • Hypnosis
  • Acupuncture
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Group Therapy
  • Engage in productive activities
  • Discuss with your doctor about nicotine gums, nasal sprays, cutaneous patches and drugs.

The safety of Nicotine Replacement Therapy is not well established, as these supply a constant low dose of nicotine in the bloodstream thereby reducing the craving one gets because of the nicotine in cigarettes. This may cross the blood-placenta barrier and pass into the foetal circulation causing health hazards in the foetus.

What are e-cigarettes? Are they safe during pregnancy?

E-cigarettes or “Electronic Cigarettes” are battery-operated devices that emit a vaporized solution to inhale, which usually contain nicotine. They claim to have significantly fewer toxins and less nicotine than traditional cigarettes, but may still contain enough to cause harm to the fetus.

Therefore these are contra-indicated as well.

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