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Tobacco Facts

Tobacco & Pregnancy

You’ve probably heard that tobacco use is bad during pregnancy. But how bad is it? If you find out you are pregnant, how risky is it to smoke cigarettes? Or to vape?

When you’re pregnant, and especially early on in a pregnancy, you pay attention to everything going in your body. Those substances can transfer directly to your developing baby through your bloodstream and the placenta. When a new fetus is developing, it is forming all of its essential body parts and organs. This is when harmful substances can do the most damage.

If you are pregnant and casually use tobacco products like cigarettes or vapes, you should stop immediately. There is no safe level of nicotine for a developing fetus, and there is no safe level of tobacco smoke for a human, because it contains so many damaging chemicals.

If you are currently pregnant and regularly smoking or vaping, and you think it will be difficult to stop immediately, support is available to make a quit plan and then make it happen. Real people, including former smokers who have been through it, can help you do things like identify your personal triggers, plan for cravings, and find out if you qualify for free medication. Get started now.

It’s important to cut down as much as possible, and quit entirely as soon as you can.

It’s also important to avoid breathing in secondhand smoke while you are pregnant. Secondhand smoke contains many of the same dangerous chemicals as those inhaled during smoking.

How can smoking or using tobacco products harm you and your baby?

  • If you smoke during pregnancy, your baby may be born too small, even after a full-term pregnancy. Smoking slows your baby’s growth before birth.
  • Smoking raises your baby’s risk for birth defects, including cleft lip, cleft palate, or both. 1 , 4
  • Smoking can damage your baby’s developing lungs and brain, including long-term impacts. 4
  • Smoking doubles your risk of bleeding too much during pregnancy and delivery. This can put both you and your baby in danger. 5 , 6
  • Babies of moms who smoke during pregnancy—and babies exposed to cigarette smoke after birth—have a higher risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. 5

What about other tobacco products?

It’s important for people who are pregnant to avoid all tobacco products, which includes smokeless tobacco (or “dip,” “chew,” “snus,” etc), as well as cigars, cigarillos, e-cigarettes or vapes, and hookah. Chewing tobacco is similarly linked to preterm births and low birth weight. Vapes, and other tobacco products, contain nicotine, which is itself harmful to developing babies’ brains and lungs.

If you are pregnant and using tobacco products, the best thing you can do for your baby is to begin your quit now. Support is available to help you get started and succeed in quitting. Find more information on tobacco and pregnancy, and special resources for people who are pregnant, from QuitNow-NH.

Helpful Links

www.Text4Baby.org – Get FREE messages each week on your cell phone to help you through your pregnancy and your baby’s first year. Text4baby is an educational program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.

CDC resource page – More information on smoking, pregnancy and babies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention..