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Smoking in pregnancy

We know that it can be difficult to stop smoking. But we also know that you want to give your baby the best possible start in life. No matter what stage you are at in your pregnancy, it's never too late to stop smoking. It is the best thing that you can do for yourself and your baby.

The early stages of pregnancy are the time when the baby forms and develops; taking on the shape of the small person they will grow to be. In the later stages, their body grows and develops further to be as strong as possible and ready to be born. Smoking increases the risks of having a small under-developed baby. It is really important that the baby is allowed to grow properly to be ready for the challenges to come. 

When delivering your baby, you will need as much energy as possible. Quitting smoking during pregnancy means that your body will be better able to cope with the challenges of bringing your child into the world. If you stop smoking, you will be less likely to need emergency oxygen and other interventions during labour. 

A smokefree pregnancy reduces the risk of

  • Miscarriage
  • Problems with the placenta
  • Premature labour
  • Low birth weight (under-developed baby)
  • Stillbirth 
  • Breathing problems
  • Glue ear
  • Behavioural problems

If you need help with your cravings, you can use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). This is safer than continuing to smoke as it contains fewer harmful chemicals. Your advisor will carry out a risk-benefit assessment and explain your options in detail. NRT reduces cravings whilst giving you lower doses of nicotine. It is provided at prescription cost and is therefore free during pregnancy.

Speak to your midwife or local maternity unit for details of support available.

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Last updated: 8 February 2019 | Last reviewed: 8 February 2019