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Smoking while pregnant or breastfeeding

Quitting smoking at any stage during your pregnancy immediately reduces your risk of pregnancy complications and harm to your baby’s health.

Smoking during pregnancy is the biggest contributing factor to the development of complications including miscarriage, premature labour and sudden unexpected death in infants. There is no safe level of smoking.

The more cigarettes you smoke while pregnant, the more harm you do to you and your baby. Toxic chemicals are absorbed into your bloodstream and passed onto your baby through the umbilical cord.

Smoking while pregnant increases your risk of: 

  • ectopic pregnancy
  • miscarriage
  • premature labour
  • complications during birth.

Smoking can increase your baby’s risk of:

  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • low birthweight
  • infections and other health problems
  • asthma and other breathing difficulties
  • behavioural problems.

Passive smoking

Breathing in the smoke from someone else’s cigarette is called ‘passive smoking’ and exposes you and your baby to toxic chemicals. Your womb does not protect your unborn baby from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. When you smoke, your baby will be passive smoking.

If you are a non-smoker, being exposed to tobacco smoke by your partner, family or friends is also dangerous. Making your home a smoke-free zone will help you to quit and will reduce your child’s exposure to the dangers of tobacco smoke. If your partner smokes, encourage them to consider quitting too.

Breastfeeding while smoking

Smoking while you are breastfeeding your baby is not safe. Breast milk contains essential nutrients for your baby, but if you continue to smoke while you breastfeed, toxic chemicals from tobacco are passed onto your baby through your breast milk. Your ability to breastfeed is also affected by smoking. Women who smoke tend to produce less milk and wean their babies earlier than non-smokers.

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