I know. Smoking’s bad. But I just can’t quit. Is there any way to make it less harmful to my baby?
Nope. Smoking’s not just bad, it can be deadly -- each year over 1,000 babies die because their moms smoked during the pregnancy -- and there’s no way around that. When you inhale cigarette smoke -- no matter what brand it is or where you do it -- you expose your baby to nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar, which in turn can reduce his oxygen supply, restrict his growth, damage his lungs and increase his risk of being born with a serious birth defect.
The ideal time to quit smoking is while you’re trying to conceive, but if you’ve found yourself a pregnant smoker, it’s not too late. Remember: Quitting ASAP is the best thing you can do for baby right now. If you’re having a tough time kicking the habit, it’s definitely better to use a nicotine patch or gum than a cigarette, since there’s no smoke involved. But those quitting aids still feed your body (and your baby) nicotine, which is a stimulant and can harm baby’s growth and development. So only use nicotine products if they’re an endpoint to helping you quit, not as a replacement for cigarettes, since there really is no acceptable amount of nicotine for your baby. Otherwise, do whatever you can to quit today -- try free smoking-cessation counseling from the National Cancer Institute (Smokefree.gov), or speak with your OB about other proven methods to help you quit for good.
Plus, more from The Bump:
How much extra weight will I gain if I quit smoking while pregnant?
Is it safe to quit smoking cold turkey while pregnant?
Is it safe to be around smokers while pregnant?
Melissa M. Goist, MD, assistant professor, obstetrics and gynecology, The Ohio State University Medical Center