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How Smoking Affects You

You may smoke to help you face mental stress, but every cigarette increases the stress on your body. Women who smoke often have more medical problems when they’re pregnant:

A higher chance for placental abruption. That’s when the placenta peels away from the wall of your uterus too soon. It can cause serious bleeding or premature labor.

A higher chance for placenta previa. That’s when your placenta is in such a position that it could rupture during contractions and cause severe bleeding. That means you may need to stay in the hospital to try to delay your delivery. When you do give birth, you may need a C-section; regular vaginal delivery may be too dangerous.

Quitting before or during pregnancy lowers the chance that you’ll have one of these problems.

Secondhand Smoke

Even being exposed to secondhand smoke while you’re pregnant makes you 20% more likely to have a low-birthweight baby. So if your partner or another person living with you smokes, quit together.

You need to protect your baby from smoke even after she’s born. A baby exposed to cigarette smoke is more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). That’s when a baby less than a year old dies during sleep for no clear reason.

There is no safe level of secondhand smoke. Smoke travels through vents and under doors. Even very brief exposure can make breathing problems worse for babies. Here are some things you can do to reduce your baby’s exposure while you are pregnant and after your baby is born.

  • Don’t let anyone smoke in your house.
  • Don’t let anyone smoke in your car.
  • In colder weather, encourage smokers to use the same jacket whenever they smoke outdoors, and preferably leave it outside.
  • Keep your baby away from places where people smoke.

Quitting Is Hard, but Not Impossible

Now you know many reasons to stop smoking. Quitting is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health and your baby. Get help.

If you aren’t sure how, talk with your doctor or midwife. Many states have quit-smoking hotlines you can call. Your local hospital or health center also may have programs that help people quit without feeling judged. You may even be able to find a support group for pregnant moms. Check out the program “Forever Free for Baby and Me” under Smoking Issues: Free Resources on the web site.

If you can’t quit altogether, even cutting back on how much you smoke is better for you and your baby than doing nothing.

Give yourself and your baby this gift of health. You can do it!