Smoking Before or During Pregnancy

If you are a smoker and are thinking of becoming pregnant, the first step you must take is to stop smoking. If you’re like most smokers, you may have thought of or tried to quit before.

However, if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, it is now necessary not only to think about your health but the health of your unborn child. Smoke can affect both child development and future growth.

  • About 13% of women in the United States smoke during pregnancy. This is a shocking number when you consider that there would be an estimated reduction of 10% in infant mortality if these women had quit.
  • Cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals – some 2,500 chemicals have entered your baby’s bloodstream with every puff of a cigarette.
  • Nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide are the most dangerous and toxic to the fetus, affecting the most critical stages of development, while inside the womb.

Even if you do not smoke, the child may be affected by a mother who is often exposed to cigarette smoke. Passive smoking can be just as harmful to both mother and baby.


A woman who smokes or is exposed to frequent second-hand smoke is more likely to have a baby born with low birth weight and stunted growth. The sooner a woman quits or stays away from passive smoking, the greater the chances of good health for her and her baby.

Smoking has been associated with a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy, which is when the embryo is implanted in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.

When this happens, medication must be taken to remove the embryo or in the worst case, the tube is removed surgically. Smoking can also increase the risk of stillbirth, miscarriage and vaginal bleeding, which is sometimes severe enough to harm the child.

Smoking during pregnancy can make the child develop more slowly, increasing the risk of low birth weight and the risk of preterm birth (the baby is delivered before 37 weeks of gestation) by 30%. You may also see an abnormalitiy such as cleft lip, cleft palate or other congenital defects.

Also, infants born to smoking mothers are more likely to die from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and can have a higher probability of developing asthma, behavioral problems and learning disabilities due to the slowdown in growth development.

It is clear that smoking during pregnancy – or being exposed to second-hand smoke,while pregnant can seriously affect you and your baby during pregnancy and early years of his life.

To learn of other important factors that can affect your pregnancy and ability to get pregnant, read the international best selling ebook, Personal Path to Pregnancy.