02 Mar How Smoking Affects Your Baby
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects, and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).¹
Mama, I know smoking tobacco is one of the hardest habits to quit. Many smokers who successfully kick the habit lament that quitting smoking is like saying goodbye to an old friend. It takes a lot of personal strength and willpower to quit, as well as the right support system. If you’re smoking and pregnant, we hope there’s information here that will give you the conviction to quit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco smoke contains 7,000 chemicals. Of these chemicals, hundreds are toxic and about 70 cause cancer. Whether you smoke, or live and work in an environment with secondhand smoke, you’re inhaling these chemicals. The nicotine and other chemicals travel through the placenta and into your baby’s developing body. These chemicals, as well as the carbon monoxide, prevent your unborn baby from getting enough oxygen in the womb.
This is why mothers who smoke or who are exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth (the baby is born without a heartbeat). Sometimes, these babies are born too small or too early (preterm birth), which means they are often not as healthy.
In addition, the risk of birth defects is higher in mothers who smoke. The studies show that tobacco smoke causes tissue damage to the lungs and brain of a fetus. This increases the risk of a fetus developing cleft lip or palate, as well as being born with a smaller than average head. Tobacco smoke exposure in the womb has also been linked to eye problems in fetuses, like strabismus (crossed eyes), refractive errors (near/far sightedness), and retinopathy (blurred vision).²
In their new fragile lives, babies born to mothers who smoke sometimes have lung problems, like wheezing or asthma. Sadly, these babies are three times more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) than babies from mothers who don’t smoke.¹ For more information on smoking during pregnancy and postpartum, check out Mommyato.
I know you’re mustering your willpower and strength to quit. And now you have some concrete reasons to draw upon. But, quitting smoking takes a plan. Many people need help from outside resources like their healthcare provider, who can prescribe medication to help reduce cravings, and other local or national organizations that have counseling and support groups. To start, visit Smokefree.gov and SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). These are government programs but there are many state run programs as well. Know your reasons to quit, gather your strength and support, and put your plan into action. You can do it Mama!
- Centers for Disease Control. April 2020. Smoking during pregnancy. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/pregnancy/index.htm#
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. May 2022. What are the risks of smoking during pregnancy? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes/what-are-risks-smoking-during-pregnancy
- Photo by Megan Forbes: Woman Wearing White Crew Neck Shirt. https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-wearing-white-crew-neck-shirt-963444/