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Smoking among Pregnant Women

A Concern for Maine

Smoking before and during pregnancy is the single most preventable cause of illness and death among mothers and infants. Women who quit smoking before or early in pregnancy significantly reduce the risk for serious health dangers.

Read facts about Smoking and Pregnancy in Maine.

If You Smoke, Know the Benefits of Quitting – For You and Your Baby

The health issues of smoking while pregnant include miscarriage, premature births and low birth weight which can cause breathing difficulties, learning disabilities, and even death for the baby. And, secondhand smoke doubles the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and can lead to an astonishing number of children's health problems, including pneumonia, asthma, and middle ear infections. Pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke have 20% higher odds of giving birth to a low-birth weight baby than women who are not exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy.

It's Never Too Late to Quit During Pregnancy

After just one day of not smoking, your baby will get more oxygen. Each day that you don’t smoke, you are helping your baby grow.


More Resources for Smoking and Pregnancy

American Pregnancy Association
Smoke-Free Families
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Great Start – American Legacy Foundation
Maine Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS)
National Partnership to Help Pregnant Smokers Quit

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Questions about Smoking and Pregnancy

Does cigarette smoke get through to the unborn baby?

Yes, when the mother smokes, so does the baby. Smokers take in poisons such as nicotine and carbon monoxide (the same gas that comes out of a car's exhaust pipe). These poisons get into the placenta, which is the tissue that connects the mother and the baby before it is born. These poisons keep the unborn baby from getting the food and oxygen needed to grow.

Don't some mothers smoke during pregnancy and have healthy babies?

They are the lucky ones! If a woman smokes during pregnancy she takes a big chance with her baby's health. There is a greater chance that she will lose the baby during pregnancy. The baby could also be born too early, before the lungs are ready, so he or she will have trouble breathing.

Why take a chance when there is so much to lose?

If a mother who smokes breast feeds her baby, does the nicotine get into her milk?

Breast feeding is a good way to feed a new baby but smoking may cause problems. The baby gets nicotine via breast milk and it can cause vomiting, excessive crankiness, and disrupted sleep.

In addition, women who smoke are less likely to breast feed or will breast feed for a short duration. Breast milk is the ideal food for the baby as it provides protection that helps the baby fight illness. It is important that pregnant women and new mothers quit smoking for this reason as well.

Are there any long-term harmful effects on the baby if the mother smokes during pregnancy?

Yes, there can be. Smoking during pregnancy may mean that after the child is born they will have an increased risk of chonic respiratory symptoms, reduced lung function, bronchitis, middle ear infections, and asthma. There is also an increased risk that the baby could die from SIDS.

These children may also be slower learners in school. And they may be shorter and smaller than children of nonsmokers. And, of course, they are more likely to smoke when they get older because they see their parents smoking.

What about other people smoking around the pregnant woman?

New studies show that if a woman's partner smokes near her during her pregnancy, there are added risks. It is best for the mother, baby, and entire family to quit tobacco. If family and friends continue to smoke the pregnant mother should ask them not to smoke near her.

Have more questions about smoking and pregnancy? To get more answers to questions about smoking and pregnancy visit the American Lung Association.

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