Hookah, or smoking tobacco through a water pipe, is popular because it lets a person smoke tobacco with added flavors, such as apple, chocolate, blueberry, grape, or watermelon.

Is Hookah as Risky as Cigarettes?

As you inhale through a mouthpiece, the tobacco is heated, and its smoke passes through water before it’s drawn through a rubber hose to the mouthpiece, where it can be inhaled into your lungs, and blown out through your mouth. The vapors leave a sweet aroma from the smoke and a flavorful taste in your mouth. Although this trend is popular, it carries the same risks and toxic effects as smoking a cigarette because it contains nicotine. Smoking hookah while trying to conceive can cause delays or difficulties in getting pregnant.

Quit Smoking in Pregnancy

If you’re trying to conceive or are pregnant and smoking tobacco in any form, the recommendation is to quit. Smoking, vaping, and using hookah can cause serious harm to you and your baby. Secondhand smoke should also be avoided due to exposure of toxins. If you need help quitting, smoking cessation support is covered by many insurance plans and Medicaid during pregnancy. In states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, smoking cessation services are provided for all women. Talk to your healthcare provider as soon as you plan on conceiving or as soon as you find out you are pregnant to get help quitting tobacco in all forms.

Dangers of Hookah During Pregnancy

Hookah carries the same risks for you and your baby as smoking cigarettes

  • Being Born at a Low Birth Weight: Smoking slows your baby’s growth; your baby may be born too small, even with a full-term pregnancy
  • Born Premature: Your baby may be born too early (premature birth). Babies born prematurely (before 37 weeks) may have difficulties holding their body temperature and feeding problems because their suck/swallow reflexes haven’t yet developed
  • Developmental Delays: Smoking can damage your baby’s developing lungs and brain; baby may struggle to breathe at birth
  • Bleeding Risks: Smoking doubles your risk of abnormal bleeding during pregnancy and birth. This can put both you and your baby in life-threatening danger
  • Birth Defects: Smoking raises your baby’s risk for defects such as cleft lip or palate, heart defects, abnormal limb development, and neural tube defects (such as spina bifida)
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Babies exposed to smoke during pregnancy and after birth have a higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

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ShaBrittaney Condol BSN, RNC-OB is a labor and delivery nurse at Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

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