By Jennifer Nevels, NMD

Once you find out you are pregnant you become immediately responsible for another human being. Everything that you do now can influence the health of the baby growing inside you. This includes any previous established habits, like smoking.  You have most likely learned about the negative effects of smoking in school, but probably aren’t aware of how smoking can affect your baby’s health specifically.  There is no time like the present to really comprehend what you are putting in to your body every time you smoke a cigarette.  This habit not only affects your body but now the development of your baby so it is time to get educated about all the facts.

Cigarettes are made from tobacco leaves, but other substances are added for flavor in order to make smoking more pleasant. There have been approximately 600 ingredients identified in cigarettes.  When lit and inhaled over 7000 chemicals are released into the lungs, and then carried into the blood stream to you and the baby. There are more statistics and information formed around nicotine’s effect on the baby then other identified chemicals.

Some known factors from nicotine exposure:

  • Decreases the amount of oxygen received by the baby
  • Increases the heart rate of the baby
  • Increases the chance of miscarriage and stillbirth
  • Increases the risk of the baby developing lung issues
  • Increases the risk of birth defects
  • Increases the risk of the baby being born pre-maturely or low birth weight
  • Increases the risk of the childhood asthma, ear infections and obesity

E-cigarettes are not any better than the traditional cigarettes. They still contain concerning chemicals as well as the nicotine.  Second hand smoke can be just as unhealthy.  If you are living with a smoker or a close companion is one, ask them to stop smoking around you. The cigarette smoke pollutes the environment.  The indoor air, clothing and furniture are examples of what the chemicals can saturate into.   Most importantly indirect inhalation of the smoke creates the same exposure into your blood stream and then to the baby. Ideally if you are both smoking you can use this as an opportunity to quit together or ask the individual to smoke outside at the very least.

At this point there are no safe levels of smoking while pregnant.  In order to help you quit it would be ideal to identify what drove you to smoke to begin with.  Did it start with a casual smoke with friends or is it away you are managing stress?  If it a stress reliever for you then consider speaking with a counselor to get to the root issues.  Pick up new hobbies that occupy your hands and time.  Try chewing gum when the craving comes over you or even better snack on veggies.  Exercise is another great tool.  Go for a walk or try a pre-natal yoga tape to help blow off steam and promote endorphins, which are the feel good chemicals.  The sooner you are able to quit smoking the greater then benefit to your baby.

Please talk with a health professional and lean on friends and family to help you quit.  Pick a date and let everyone know so that they can support you.

Additional Resources: