9 Myths About Smoking and Pregnancy

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pregnant women touching her stomach

Myth #1: I smoked during my last pregnancy and had a healthy baby, so this baby will be healthy too.

Fact: Every pregnancy is different. If you smoked and had a healthy baby in the past, you cannot be certain the next pregnancy and baby also will be healthy. You may even have more trouble than nonsmokers just getting pregnant. But your chance of getting pregnant goes back to normal when you quit smoking. You also lower your risk for many other serious health problems.


Myth #2: There is nothing wrong with having a small baby.

Fact: Pregnant smokers are more likely to give birth before their babies have had a chance to develop fully. Smoking during pregnancy increases the chances of having a low birth weight baby (less than 5½   pounds). Low birth weight babies are more likely than normal weight babies to have serious health problems. These problems can affect your baby’s health as a newborn, toddler, or even adult. Some babies who are born early have problems in school.


Myth #3: I am three months pregnant. There is no point in stopping smoking now. The damage is done.

Fact: It’s never too late to quit smoking. There are benefits to quitting smoking at any stage of your pregnancy. Quitting smoking decreases your chances of going into labor before your baby is ready. If you quit now, your risk of having a low birth weight baby may be similar to that of a non-smoker. Quitting now also increases the chances your baby’s lungs will develop well.


Myth #4: Smoking relaxes me, and being relaxed is better for me and my baby.

Fact: You may feel calmer when you smoke, but smoking actually has the opposite effect on your body. Smoking speeds up your heart rate and increases your blood pressure. Every puff of a cigarette also increases the carbon monoxide in your bloodstream, making less oxygen available to your baby.


Myth #5: Quitting smoking will be too stressful on my baby.

Fact: Continuing to smoke during pregnancy harms your baby. Quitting smoking does not put extra stress on your baby. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health and your baby’s health before and after the baby is born. When you quit smoking, you help protect your infant from the dangers of secondhand smoke and reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).


Myth #6: Smoking fewer cigarettes during pregnancy is good enough.

Fact: There is no safe level of smoking. Even a few cigarettes a day means harmful chemicals will reach your baby and damage your health. Quitting at any time during pregnancy is likely to reduce the bad effects of smoking on your baby. Your baby may not get the same benefits if you just reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke. But reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke when you are pregnant is a great start on your journey toward quitting.


Myth #7: If I stop smoking, I'll gain too much weight.

Fact: Many women are concerned about gaining weight when they quit smoking. But you can take charge of your weight when quitting smoking, even if you’re pregnant. Gaining weight is normal and expected as part of a healthy pregnancy. Increasing the number of calories you eat during your pregnancy is both normal and healthy because it helps you get the calories, vitamins, and minerals you and your baby need. Talk to your doctor to determine how much weight gain is healthy for you and your baby.


Myth #8: The only way to quit smoking is cold turkey.

Fact: Cold turkey (quitting smoking abruptly, rather than gradually) is not the only option pregnant women have to help them become and stay smokefree. Toll-free quit lines, online support communities, mobile apps, and other resources are available to help you take the next step on the path to being smokefree. If you are pregnant and thinking about quitting smoking, talk to your doctor before using any medications. That includes any herbal products from health food stores. More research is needed to be sure medications that help you quit smoking are safe and effective for pregnant women. Learn more about pregnancy and medicines at womenshealth.gov.


Myth #9: I smoke, so I should not breastfeed my baby.

Fact: The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages mothers who smoke to quit smoking, but continue to breastfeed their babies even if they don’t quit smoking. Breast milk provides your baby with many benefits, including the nutrients he or she needs for healthy growth and development.

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