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Pregnant women who smoke face a lot of pressure. Your doctor or midwife tells you to quit. Maybe you feel you need cigarettes to get through the day. Maybe you feel stuck because smoking while you’re pregnant puts stress on your relationships, but trying to quit does too. Yet you can do it. You can quit smoking, and it will be tremendously positive for you and your baby.

It’s best  if you stop smoking forever. If that seems too hard, then focus on quitting during your pregnancy. There are programs just for pregnant women. You don’t have to stop cold turkey. Even cutting back on smoking can reduce some risks. Make the effort for your baby and for yourself -- it’s worth it.

How Smoking Affects Your Baby

You’ve heard how unhealthy smoking is for you. Smoking also harms your developing baby in many ways. It puts unhealthy chemicals in your baby’s body and reduces his oxygen supply. When you smoke, your baby is more likely to be born early and tiny.

Babies who weigh less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces at birth are said to have a “low birth weight.” This means they have a greater chance of having trouble breathing, fighting off infection, and gaining weight. Some low-birthweight babies and almost all very low-birthweight babies (those under 3 pounds, 4 ounces) have to spend time in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) before they can go home.

Smoking also increases the chance your baby will have a birth defect like cleft palate or cleft lip. With these conditions, a baby’s mouth or lip does not form properly. It can interfere with  his ability to eat and speak and usually requires surgery.