Your baby shouldn’t smoke just because you do. Quitting smoking is a good idea for anybody, but if you're looking to have children soon then there's even more reason to go smoke-free. Alarmingly, Australian studies have shown that about 17% of women smoke during pregnancy.1 Although that rate is falling, quitting before you're pregnant is a much better idea – you could enjoy a healthier pregnancy and birth and your son or daughter could be better off as well.
Why should I quit if I fall pregnant?
If you quit, you'll notice lots of health benefits almost immediately:2
- You can experience less morning sickness during pregnancy.
- You can have fewer complications during the term of your pregnancy and at the birth.
- You might cope better with the birth, as smoking is one factor that can affect how women deal with labour.
- Your baby will cope better with complications.
- Your baby could be more likely to be born at the right time, rather than prematurely.
- Your baby is less likely to be born underweight.
When should I stop if pregnant or looking to become pregnant?
If you're hoping to have children in the near future, the sooner you quit the better. You'll start enjoying health benefits sooner and you'll give yourself a better chance of being physically prepared for being pregnant.2 You'll also be able to concentrate on dealing with your pregnancy rather than worrying about quitting at the same time.
What about after I give birth?
The risks of cigarette smoke to a baby don't end after birth, so bringing a child into a smoke free environment is important. Babies whose parents smoke are more likely to be admitted to hospital for bronchitis and pneumonia in the first three years of life,3 so ensuring second-hand smoke does not affect your family is important. If you don't go back to smoking after your pregnancy, you'll be giving yourself a better chance of being healthier and your baby a better start to life.
How can I quit?
Quitting isn't always easy, but the benefits you'll experience when you're smoke-free may give you some extra motivation to be successful. Here are a few things that might help:
Promise - Recording your commitment to quit can be important, and now you'll be promising someone else too, so there's more motivation to keep it.
Talk to your doctor - They may be able to suggest a treatment that helps, or give you some advice about quitting with nicotine replacement therapy before you become pregnant.
Stay away from smokers - This is important because it could help you avoid cravings or situations when you're likely to be tempted to smoke. Importantly, it also means when you do become pregnant your baby won't be exposed to cigarette smoke.
Get your friends and family to help - They could make a big difference to your quit attempt.
Quitting before you're pregnant could have lots of benefits, both for you and whoever's on the way.