Pregnant Smokers

Is it ever too late to quit smoking if I’m pregnant or trying to conceive?

Are you pregnant or wanting to get pregnant? Do you smoke? The good news is quitting is one of the best things you can do for your baby and your health. While quitting smoking before you get pregnant or as soon as you find out you are is best, quitting at any time has benefits for you and your baby. EX can help you quit smoking before, during, or after your pregnancy.

Why is quitting good for my baby?

Once you stop smoking, all kinds of good things happen for your baby:

  • Quitting increases the amount of oxygen your baby will get. You’ll be helping your baby develop and grow properly. [1, 2]
  • Quitting increases the chances your baby’s lungs will work well. [2]
  • Quitting lowers the risk that your baby will be born prematurely or too early,[2] especially quitting in the first trimester. [3]
  • Quitting decreases your chances of having a low birth weight baby.[1, 4-7]
  • Quitting lowers the risk of having a miscarriage or stillbirth. [2, 8]

Why is quitting good for me as an expecting mom?

Using BecomeAnEX to quit smoking for your pregnancy also does good things for your health.

If you’re trying to get pregnant:

  • Quitting increases your fertility, meaning it’s easier to get pregnant. [2]

If you’re already pregnant:

  • Quitting reduces your risk of your water breaking too soon (amniotic sac rupture). [2]
  • Quitting reduces your risk of an ectopic pregnancy, as well as infection. [2]
  • Quitting reduces your risk of placental abruption, where the placental lining separates from the wall of the uterus. [2]
  • Quitting reduces your risk of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. [2]

Whether you are pregnant or not, when you quit:

  • You’ll have more energy.
  • You’ll save lots of money that you can spend on other things.
  • Your clothes, hair and home will smell better.
  • Your food will taste better.
  • And perhaps more than anything, you’ll feel great knowing what an important thing you’ve done for yourself and the people you love.

What about after my baby is born?

Quitting smoking is just as important AFTER your baby is born.

Quitting before or during pregnancy can improve the health of your baby even as he or she grows older. If you stay quit, your newborn will be at lower risk for chest colds, coughs, ear infections and asthma problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. You’ll also lower your baby’s risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).[9-13]

In addition, quitting smoking reduces the chances that your baby will

  • Be very overweight (obese) as he or she grows up [14]
  • Have behavioral disorders or attention deficit disorder (ADD) later in life [2, 10] or
  • Develop high blood pressure [15]

So what can I do to quit?

  • Deciding to quit is the most important step in quitting. If you decide to quit while you’re pregnant, and plan to stay quit afterwards, you’re more likely to stay quit after you have your baby. [16
  • It’s important to have support while you’re quitting. The good news is you can get support from lots of places. Your friends and family, a health care provider or counselor, or the BecomeAnEX Community [18] are all great options for support. [17] Check out the BecomeAnEX “Re-learn support” page for more tips and tools for getting the support you need.

Can I use medications to help me quit while I am pregnant?

You should always check with your health care provider before starting any new medication. There is some evidence that nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) (patches, gum, lozenge) may have negative effects on the developing fetus[19, 20]. However, the risks of smoking are certainly greater than the risk from NRT. Especially for heavy smokers, NRT may be the extra help you need to quit. [21-23] You will need to discuss the risks and benefits with your health care provider to make the best decision for you.

There are two non-nicotine medications that improve smoking cessation: bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix).  Studies of bupropion have found some evidence of impact on fetal development in animal studies, but no evidence of harm in studies of humans.[24]   There are no studies about fetal effects from Chantix.  If you are interested in using either of these medications while you’re pregnant, talk to your health care provider.

Will I gain a lot more weight when I quit because I’m pregnant?

If you’re worried about weight gain, remember that putting on some weight during pregnancy is normal. Which makes now an ideal time to quit. The weight you gain is far less harmful than the risk to you and your baby from smoking.

As long as I quit while I’m pregnant, can I have a cigarette once in a while after my baby is born?

Unfortunately, any smoking is harmful to you and your baby. Most people who go back to smoking after quitting for a long time never plan to start smoking again. They assume they can just smoke once in a while.[25] But for many people, the first or first few cigarettes cause changes in your body and brain that make cravings to smoke much stronger. Because of how nicotine addiction works, it may not be possible for people who have been regular smokers, and quit, to go back to occasional smoking. [How Nicotine Addiction Works]

Register today and start quitting soon! Remember, BecomeAnEXcan help improve the health of two people — you AND your baby.

  1. Blatt, K., et al., Association of reported trimester-specific smoking cessation with fetal growth restriction. Obstet Gynecol, 2015. 125(6): p. 1452-9.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (US) Office on Smoking and Health, Editor 2014, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US): Atlanta, GA.
  3. Polakowski, L.L., L.J. Akinbami, and P. Mendola, Prenatal smoking cessation and the risk of delivering preterm and small-for-gestational-age newborns. Obstet Gynecol, 2009. 114(2 Pt 1): p. 318-25.
  4. Kharrazi, M., et al., Environmental tobacco smoke and pregnancy outcome. Epidemiology, 2004. 15(6): p. 660-70.
  5. Harrod, C.S., et al., Exposure to prenatal smoking and early-life body composition: the healthy start study. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2015. 23(1): p. 234-41.
  6. Harrod, C.S., et al., Quantity and timing of maternal prenatal smoking on neonatal body composition: the Healthy Start study. J Pediatr, 2014. 165(4): p. 707-12.
  7. Ko, T.J., et al., Parental smoking during pregnancy and its association with low birth weight, small for gestational age, and preterm birth offspring: a birth cohort study. Pediatr Neonatol, 2014. 55(1): p. 20-7.
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2001, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Atlanta, GA.
  9. Tong, V.T., et al., Trends in smoking before, during, and after pregnancy--Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, United States, 40 sites, 2000-2010. MMWR Surveill Summ, 2013. 62(6): p. 1-19.
  10. Banderali, G., et al., Short and long term health effects of parental tobacco smoking during pregnancy and lactation: a descriptive review. J Transl Med, 2015. 13: p. 327.
  11. Dick, S., et al., A systematic review of associations between environmental exposures and development of asthma in children aged up to 9 years. BMJ Open, 2014. 4(11): p. e006554.
  12. Dick, S., et al., Associations between environmental exposures and asthma control and exacerbations in young children: a systematic review. BMJ Open, 2014. 4(2): p. e003827.
  13. Murray, R.L., J. Britton, and J. Leonardi-Bee, Second hand smoke exposure and the risk of invasive meningococcal disease in children: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health, 2012. 12: p. 1062.
  14. Ino, T., Maternal smoking during pregnancy and offspring obesity: meta-analysis. Pediatr Int, 2010. 52(1): p. 94-9.
  15. Cohen, G., et al., Long-term reprogramming of cardiovascular function in infants of active smokers. Hypertension, 2010. 55(3): p. 722-8.
  16. Simmons, V.N., et al., Prepartum and Postpartum Predictors of Smoking. Nicotine Tob Res, 2014. 16(4): p. 461-8.
  17. Boucher, J. and A.T. Konkle, Understanding Inequalities of Maternal Smoking--Bridging the Gap with Adapted Intervention Strategies. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2016. 13(3).
  18. Graham, A. L., Papandonatos, G. D., Erar, B., & Stanton, C. A. (2015). Use of an Online Smoking Cessation Community Promotes Abstinence: Results of Propensity Score Weighting. Health Psychology : Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 34(0), 1286–1295.
  19. Dwyer, J.B., S.C. McQuown, and F.M. Leslie, The dynamic effects of nicotine on the developing brain. Pharmacol Ther, 2009. 122(2): p. 125-39.
  20. Forinash, A.B., et al., Nicotine replacement therapy effect on pregnancy outcomes. Ann Pharmacother, 2010. 44(11): p. 1817-21.
  21. Coleman, T., et al., A randomized trial of nicotine-replacement therapy patches in pregnancy. N Engl J Med, 2012. 366(9): p. 808-18.
  22. Coleman, T., et al., Pharmacological interventions for promoting smoking cessation during pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2015(12): p. Cd010078.
  23. Siu, A.L., Behavioral and Pharmacotherapy Interventions for Tobacco Smoking Cessation in Adults, Including Pregnant Women: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Ann Intern Med, 2015. 163(8): p. 622-34.
  24. ACOG. Smoking Cessation During Pregnancy: Committee Opinion, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2015 [cited 2016 10/1]; Available from:
  25. Orton, S., et al., "I Was a Full Time Proper Smoker": A Qualitative Exploration of Smoking in the Home after Childbirth among Women Who Relapse Postpartum. PLoS One, 2016. 11(6): p. e0157525

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