Smoking is the biggest risk during pregnancy for both mum and baby. The Stop Smoking Service can offer you help and support to have a smokefree pregnancy.

Smoking when you’re pregnant means your baby shares all the chemicals from the smoke you breathe in. If other people around you smoke, both you and your baby will be affected by the secondhand smoke.

Before birth

Carbon monoxide is just one of over 4,000 chemicals and toxins in tobacco smoke. Exposure to carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen in your body, which means your baby will also get less oxygen. Oxygen is vital for your baby to grow and develop healthily, which is why your midwife will screen you for carbon monoxide exposure during your pregnancy.

Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for both you and your baby. Our advisors can help both you and your partner take steps to give your baby the best possible start in life.

When a woman smokes:

  • there is damage to every major organ, risking disease
  • there is an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth
  • thousands of harmful chemicals enter the bloodstream, which are also transferred to the baby through the placenta
  • the baby is at risk of serious harm, including low birth weight, premature birth, or suffering from asthma or other conditions such as glue ear and meningitis


Mum, did you know every time you smoke a cigarette, I’m smoking too? Carbon monoxide stops me from getting the oxygen I need to grow strong. My heart has to beat faster and I could become stressed. I could be born early, which could mean an emergency delivery and longer stay in hospital. The smoke can also affect my brain, which makes me more likely to have behavioural problems. Smoking can even increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and cot death. It’s so sad to think about, but you could lose me. Stopping smoking can make you feel less stressed – it can really help both of us. I can be born healthy and have a good start in life. Plus we will have more money for the things we need and want! The midwife looking after us can explain how to quit smoking. They can recommend a Stop Smoking Advisor who can offer free one-to-one support. Please speak to the midwife to get support to quit smoking.

After birth

It might be very tempting to start smoking again once your baby is born, but staying smokefree is very important for both you and your baby.

Having a smokefree home

A smokefree home is safest for mother and baby, both during and after pregnancy. Key facts about smoking in the home:

  • there is no safe level of second hand smoke
  • a smokefree home makes relapse less likely
  • opening windows doesn’t protect mother or baby from second hand smoke
  • tobacco smoke lingers for a long time and much of it is invisible to the naked eye

Each year, children exposed to second hand smoke results in:

  • 22,000 new cases of asthma
  • 200 cases of bacterial meningitis
  • 9,500 hospital admissions
  • 40 sudden unexpected deaths in infancy

By staying smokefree your baby may have:

  • fewer coughs, colds and ear infections
  • better development
  • less risk of developing asthma
  • less risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome.

Getting support

Free support is available for you and your family to help you stop smoking.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is also available for you to help you stop and stay stopped. We know that using NRT while pregnant is safer than smoking, for both you and your baby, and having support from us means you’re much more likely to quit successfully.

We want to support every baby to be born smokefree.