Simply put, the best and easiest time to quit smoking is before you get pregnant. This is because the medications we recommend to help you quit are easier to use without fear of side effects before pregnancy.
After you’re pregnant, most of the medications designed to help you quit smoking are still safer than continuing to smoke, but then you’re trading risks and benefits around the question: Which is worse for me and my baby—smoking or the medications to help me quit smoking? No butts about it, research shows it’s still a lot safer for you and your baby to use the medications to help you quit in pregnancy.
Protect Your Baby
If you fear you’ve already done something damaging to your baby, rest assured that human beings are a resilient lot; otherwise we’d have died out millennia ago. Let’s face it: Since 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, plenty of women inadvertently expose their babies to toxins like alcohol and tobacco. The key is simply stop, make a U-turn, and reverse damaging behavior as soon as possible. Even the damage caused by smoking can be offset if you quit in the early part of your pregnancy.
Put Out the Fire
Whether from us or from your pregnancy care provider, you’re going to get this information at some point, so now’s as good a time as any. Please don’t sentence your child to 40 weeks inside a smoky bar.
Tobacco turns on genes that are later linked to the development and growth of cancers, as well as inflammation in arteries, which leads to heart attacks, strokes, wrinkles, and impotence. Smoking causes inflammation in uterine arteries, limiting blood flow and making it harder for oxygen and those much-needed nutrients to travel from mom to baby.
One of the reasons we care so much about a mother’s health during pregnancy is that your health affects how the placenta works, including how much surface area will be available to exchange nutrients between you and baby. For example, smoking or having high blood pressure that’s not properly managed can cause your placenta to calcify, limiting the area available for oxygen and nutrients to flow between mom and baby.
That’s the bad news. Here’s the
good news: When you stop smoking:
Baby gets more oxygen every day, even on day 1
Baby is more likely to go to term, making him or her more likely to be healthy
Baby is more likely to graduate high school without having a disability or needing medications for asthma
As you can guess, quitting increases the amount of nutrients your baby receives, promoting his or her growth and development and helping baby avoid issues that can have a major impact on baby’s health later in life.
You don’t have to quit alone—there’s help, including our breathe-free, addiction-busting program. Here’s how to use it:
Get everyone else to quit and be a buddy to quitters: Having a spouse who doesn’t smoke or who quits smoking is an advantage. Make your home smoke-free; get rid of all cigarettes in the house and car to increase your chances of quitting. Use your spouse or partner or even a friend as a buddy. Report on your progress and get additional help as needed.
Get help: If you’re not pregnant but want to be, quit with the program starting at #1. If you’re pregnant, and are smoking less than 7 cigarettes a day, we favor 1 attempt at quitting cold turkey, trying #1. Everyone else—including pregnant women who smoke more than 7 cigarettes a day—start with #1.
Have a smoking cessation plan—this is our plan, but please discuss this with your doc before you or anyone you know starts this plan.
On our plan we favor using nicotine patches and the drug bupropion. The patch is safer than smoking and gives a more consistent level of nicotine with no hydrocarbons. Bupropion helps you quit without cravings and has been used safely, even at much higher doses, as withdrawal from cigarettes without bupropion and nicotine causes side effects on your unborn child.
Although nicotine is a natural neurotransmitter you have in your nervous system, at the higher doses in cigarettes and in patches, it’s a toxin. Let’s be specific—using nicotine replacement products during pregnancy or breastfeeding is considered relatively safe; it’s not entirely risk-free.
You already expose your unborn or nursing child to nicotine if you smoke in pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is recommended even if you smoke or use nicotine replacement products. Babies of smokers are more prone to illnesses, but breastfeeding helps prevent these infections. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of other illnesses and death for baby.
There is no evidence that using nicotine replacement products in pregnancy or breastfeeding results in higher blood levels of nicotine than smoking. The argument for using nicotine replacement in pregnancy, despite potential risks, is that if it increases the chances of pregnant women quitting smoking, then withholding it would be harmful.
Compared with a placebo, use of a nicotine replacement product to try to quit smoking during pregnancy improves the birth weight of the babies and may improve birth outcomes by decreasing the risks of low-birth-weight and preterm birth. Overall, nicotine replacement products are considered to be safer than continuing to smoke as cigarette smoke contains other chemicals known to be toxic to your unborn child.
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Smoking, drinking alcohol and doing drugs can hinder your baby’s development If you are pregnant, now is the time to drop those bad habits like smoking, drinking or using drugs