If you smoke tobacco while you are pregnant your baby is smoking too and that means baby is exposed to all the nasty harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke.
Smoking reduces the blood flow to the baby and increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, having a premature baby, having a small and sickly baby and the baby dying soon after birth.
If you want to give your baby the best start in life quit smoking before you get pregnant or as early in pregnancy as possible.
Quitting early will help to ensure that things go well for your baby’s growth and development, during the birth and beyond. It also means that you will be in better shape to take on the demands of being a new mum.
Most pregnant women want to quit smoking, but quitting can be hard - even when motivated to stop smoking for the health and wellbeing of your baby and yourself.
Women who are very dependent on nicotine (that means smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day and having your first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking) will often have strong cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they stop smoking. Some women prefer to quit ‘cold turkey’ and tough it out for a week or two at which time these symptoms tend to lessen. For others this method simply doesn’t work.
The national guidelines for smoking and pregnancy recommend that if a pregnant woman has tried to quit ‘cold turkey’ and has failed, she should be offered nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to help control cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms.
NRT products (gum, lozenge, inhalator, patches and spray) do contain nicotine but at much lower levels than in cigarettes - and none of the other 7000 nasty chemicals found in cigarette smoke. This makes NRT less harmful to the baby than continuing to smoke.
If you are keen to try NRT to help with your quitting, it is important to be shown what products are available, how to use them correctly and what dosage to take. Ask your health professional (GP, midwife or smoking cessation advisor) to talk you through the NRT products available, or call the NSW Quitline 13 7848 for advice.
Remember: The best quitting method is the one that works for you. Support from family and friends and from a qualified counsellor usually helps enormously.