Smoking pregnant shaka baby

If you’re pregnant and smoke there is no doubt you are harming your unborn baby. Prenatal smoking continues to be one of the most common preventable causes of infant illness and death. Even if they are born perfect, smoking while pregnant could affect them later on in their life. Give your baby the best possible start. There will never be a better time to quit smoking. Quit now, improve your health and protect your baby.

In Hawaii 1 in 10 women admitted to smoking during pregnancy (PRAMS Hawaii 2010). Many women quit smoking before they become pregnant or while they are pregnant. You can be one of them.

Smoking affects your pregnancy in many ways.
If you smoke:
• You have a greater chance of miscarriage and stillbirth.
(Miscarriage is early pregnancy loss and still birth is fetal death after 28 weeks gestation.)

• You have a greater risk of your baby being born too early OR too small. (Preterm babies have more respiratory problems and often have to stay in the hospital longer than full term babies. The earlier your baby is born before 37 weeks, the worse the complications can be. Some babies of smokers may be born on time, but still TOO small. This is called ‘growth restriction’ or small for gestational age (SGA). When you smoke the chemicals in the cigarettes reach your baby. They keep your baby from getting the nutrients and oxygen it needs from the placenta to grow. Your baby can be virtually starving in the womb.)

• You have a greater chance of two very risky complications for both mom and baby called placenta previa and placental abruption. Both of these complications can cause uncontrolled bleeding for both mom and baby and may result in death for one or both. (Smoking cigarettes doubles a woman’s risk of bleeding too much during delivery, which can put both mom and baby in danger.)

Quitting smoking (cessation) while pregnant is extremely important for a healthy pregnancy, and continued cessation after your baby is born is essential for the continued health of your newborn.
The U.S. Surgeon General warns that secondhand smoke harms everyone, especially children and according to a recent study published in the journal, Preventing Chronic Disease is responsible for an estimated 50,000 deaths each year. When children breath secondhand smoke, it is like they are smoking, too. (Nicotine and other substances in tobacco smoke can also be passed on through breast milk). Secondhand smoke is made of chemicals and poisons that stay in their little bodies. It is estimated that 54% of children aged 3–11 years are exposed to secondhand smoke.

• Babies who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to die unexpectedly from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also called crib death.

• Babies and children who breathe secondhand smoke are sick more often with bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections.

• For children with asthma, breathing secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack that can be severe enough to send a child to the hospital or result in death!

• If you or the people in your home (fathers) smoke after your baby is born, your baby has a statistical higher chance of becoming a smoker as an adult!

It’s hard to stop once you are addicted, but you can do it with the right support. If you smoke and are pregnant, or if you are considering becoming pregnant or if you are a new mom, help is out there. You can call the Hawaii Tabacco Quit Line 1-800-784-8669 or visit to connect with the smoking cessation support you need.

If you quit, your baby does too. It’s best to quit before you get pregnant, but quitting anytime while you’re pregnant will help. Think about your growing baby! For more information, go to and/or You can do it!

Image Credit: Carine Bouvet

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Jessica Claudill BSN, RNC, IBCLC, is certified in Neonatal Intensive Care, Maternal Newborn Care and Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She is currently working at Maui Memorial Medical Center in the Obstetrics Department and teaches at the School of Nursing at UH Maui College. She is a Maui mama of one, son Rider who is six years old and has been an RN for over 20 years.