Smoking is harmful for you and your children because cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals. Smoking during pregnancy affects the unborn baby. The baby will receive less oxygen and food to grow. The baby may grow slower, weigh less and have more health problems. Quitting smoking is a healthy choice for you and your baby. Smoking and breastfeeding – refer to the “Exclusive Breastfeeding section for further information..
Quitting smoking can be very difficult. It is best to make a plan, create a smoke-free home and car, and learn how to cope with cravings and avoid situations that cause you to smoke. There are many benefits if you quit smoking including better health, more energy and saving money. Benefits for your baby include:
- the baby will be more likely born at term
- the baby is more likely to have a healthy birth weight
- the baby may have fewer breathing problems (e.g. asthma, lung infections)
- the baby is less likely to have colds and ear infections
What can I do to Quit?
- Identify what triggers make you smoke and how to avoid them
- Think of strategies that will help you cope when you can’t avoid a trigger and have the urge to smoke. Have a plan and a back-up plan
- If you need help quitting, speak with a healthcare practitioner who specializes in quitting smoking: Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit – 519 426 6170 Ext. 3278
Smokers’ Helpline 1.877.513.5333 or www.smokershelpline.ca
Second-hand smoke is smoke that is inhaled by people who are near someone who is smoking. There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke has chemicals that are let off by the end of a burning cigarette, cigar or pipe.
Children who breathe in second-hand smoke have a higher risk for:
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by 2-5 times
- Developing bronchitis and pneumonia
- Developing asthma and allergies by 200 – 400 times
- Ear infections
- Second-hand smoke can also negatively impact a child’s learning behavior and attention span.
Have a meeting to talk about making your home smoke free
Set up a smoking area outside your home for smokers to use. Make sure it’s not where the smoke will drift through windows, doors, or air vents.
Tell visitors before they come over that your home is now smoke-free. If they smoke, it must be outside.
Protecting your Family from Second-hand Smoke
When you or other people around you smoke, your baby inhales smoke too. A smoke-free environment is good for both you and your baby.
- Do not smoke around the pregnant woman, the infant or the child.
- Do not smoke in the home.
- Do not smoke in the family vehicle. It is illegal to smoke or have lighted tobacco in a motor vehicle if a child (anyone less than 16 years old) is in the vehicle.
- Ensure that places where children spend time are smoke-free.
What is Third-hand Smoke?
When a person smokes, chemicals from second-hand smoke travel through the air and land on carpets, furniture, curtains and other surfaces. They even land on dust in the room. These chemicals stay around after the cigarette is out – this is called third hand smoke. People who smoke have third hand smoke on their clothing, skin and hair – that’s why they smell like smoke even when they aren’t smoking. And it’s why you smell like smoke after you’ve been around people smoking.
Common Questions about Smoking and Pregnancy
I only smoke a few cigarettes a day. Should I quit?
Yes. All tobacco is bad for both you and your baby. The sooner your quit completely, the better.
Don’t some mothers who smoke while they are pregnant still have healthy babies?
Smoking during pregnancy is a gamble that puts your child at risk.
Will I gain extra weight if I quit now?
It is possible that if you stop smoking you may eat more to replace your oral habit. Chewing sugar-free gum might help. If you do gain a few extra pounds, don’t worry. Being physically active and making healthy food choices will help you lose the weight after your baby is born. You’ll also feel great knowing you gave your baby the best possible start in life.
Is it okay for me to smoke after the baby is born?
The best choice for you and your baby is to stay smoke-free. if you start smoking again, you are putting your baby at risk from the harmful effects of second and third hand smoke and your own health at risk from the effects of smoking. By staying smoke-free you’re protecting both you and your baby from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.
Public Health Agency of Canada (online) 2012
Pregnets (online) 2016
Canadian Cancer Society (online) 2016