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Quitting Smoking or Vaping During Pregnancy

Overview

When you're pregnant, everything you put in your body can affect your pregnancy. If you smoke, your fetus is exposed to chemicals such as nicotine and carbon monoxide.

Secondhand smoke also is a problem. If you breathe other people's tobacco smoke during pregnancy, your baby is more likely to have health problems.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the chance of:

  • Placenta problems. (The placenta is an organ that gives the fetus oxygen and nutrients and gets rid of waste.)
  • Preterm birth. The baby is born too soon.
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Birth defects, such as a cleft lip.
  • Death early in life, mainly because of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • A baby with a low birth weight.

Babies with low weight at birth can have more health problems than those born at normal weight. Some of the problems can be serious. A baby with a low birth weight may have a greater chance for problems in adulthood, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Experts recommend avoiding vaping during pregnancy.footnote 1 Vaping can expose you to nicotine and other chemicals that are not safe for you or the fetus. More research is needed to understand all the risks of vaping during pregnancy.

If you smoke or vape, quit. If you can't quit, cut back as much as you can. Ask your doctor or midwife about ways to quit or cut back.

If you quit smoking before you become pregnant (or during the first 3 months of pregnancy), your risk of having a baby with a low birth weight is the same as that of someone who doesn't smoke. Quitting later in pregnancy still lowers the risk of problems for your baby.

How do you quit smoking or vaping when you are pregnant?

When you're ready to quit smoking or vaping, these tips can help.

Get ready

  • If you're not pregnant, choose a quit date that works for you. If you're pregnant, it's best if you can stop smoking or vaping right away. If you're pregnant and can't stop yet, try to cut down as much as you can.
  • Talk to your doctor about a program to help you quit. Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement or other medicine.
  • Get rid of your cigarettes or vape, ashtrays, and lighters. Clean your house and clothes to get rid of the smoke smell.
  • If you live with someone who also smokes or vapes, discuss quitting together. If this is not an option, talk to that person about not smoking or vaping around you.
  • If you're thinking of using vaping to help you stop smoking, talk to your doctor first. Some people may use vaping products to try to quit smoking. But vaping isn't approved as a quit-smoking aid and may not be safe. However, it may be helpful for some people who use it to stop smoking completely.

Make a plan for quitting

  • Find ways to avoid places where others are smoking or vaping.
  • Think about when it might be hardest to not smoke or vape, such as when you are restless or around others who smoke or vape. Plan how you will handle your cravings during these times.
  • Change your routine. Avoid those things that make you reach for a cigarette or vape.
  • Plan ways to cope with withdrawal from smoking or vaping. For example, take a walk after dinner instead of having a cigarette or vaping. Think of ways to cut down on stress in the first few weeks of quitting.
  • Keep trying to quit if you start smoking or vaping again. Most people who smoke or vape will quit and restart many times before they stop for good. Each time you start smoking or vaping again, think about why you went back to it and why it's important to quit.
  • Remind yourself often about why you want to quit, and that it will get easier with time.

Get support

  • Ask loved ones or other people who used to smoke or vape for support and tips.
  • Get counseling. People who use telephone, online, group, or one-on-one counseling are much more likely to stop smoking or vaping.
  • Join a support group for people who smoke or vape.
  • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for information and support.

References

Citations

  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2020). Tobacco and nicotine cessation during pregnancy. ACOG Committee Opinion, No. 807. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 135(5): e221–e229. DOI: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000003822. Accessed November 14, 2020.

Credits

Current as of: July 10, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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