Smoking Before Getting Pregnant | Emma's Diary India

Giving up smoking before getting pregnant


Why it's important to give up smoking before getting pregnant and advice on how to do it

It is well documented that smoking can stop babies growing properly in the uterus, ultimately meaning they are likely to be smaller and more vulnerable when they are born.

Smoking puts babies at risk before they are born because it cuts the amount of oxygen that is being supplied to the baby though the placenta leading to smokers being more likely to have a miscarriage.

The risk of miscarriage

This miscarriage risk isn't reduced if you give up the moment you learn you are pregnant as the nicotine could have already affected the egg. Giving up smoking, however, can be very difficult and if you are a confirmed smoker you will need a lot of help and support.

It is important that your partner gives up as well, partly because it is unreasonable to expect you to try and give up alone, and because you can inhale a lot of nicotine just by sitting in a smoky atmosphere. The effect of passive smoking should always be considered when out socialising as well.

Giving up as soon as possible

Smoking may also make men less fertile by affecting the numbers and mobility of their sperm.

Do not wait until you are pregnant before trying to give up smoking. Your baby may have already spent her most vulnerable weeks suffering the effects.

It also takes a few weeks, depending on how heavily you smoke for the nicotine to clear from your system.

How to give up smoking

Quitting cigarettes is hard and takes willpower and determination, especially during the first few weeks. Nicotine is addictive, but the reliance on nicotine can be broken very quickly; it's the habit of smoking that is harder to break. Smoking becomes a part of your everyday routine, from your first cup of coffee, to meeting friends who also smoke and going for breaks at work.

So when you try and quit smoking it is probably more about breaking your behavioural associations with smoking as well as weaning yourself off the physical addiction.

There are methods to quit smoking which can be beneficial, including:

Cold turkey

Just quit. The first 24 hours are the worst, but plan ahead. Keep busy, keep your mind off cigarettes. Maybe plan a trip (after all you can't smoke at airports or on planes). It's the cheapest way to do it and can work for many people. You may have stronger willpower than you thought.

Nicotine replacement therapy during pregnancy

This could be in the form of patches, gum or tablets or the inhalator (which looks like a plastic cigarette and releases nicotine vapour into your mouth and throat).

Most pregnant women can use NRT, but it's important to get advice from your doctor first. If you can't quit smoking on your own, they can help you assess the risks of continuing to smoke against the benefits of quitting with the help of NRT.

Using NRT is safer than smoking because it doesn't contain poisons like tar or carbon monoxide. Your doctor can advise you about NRT products such as gum, lozenges, tablets and inhalers. NRT products flavoured with liquorice are not recommended during pregnancy.

Women who are breastfeeding can use some NRT products however, you should avoid using NRT for at least one hour before you breastfeed.

It's best to not use patches while you're breastfeeding, but other options are available and you can discuss these with your doctor.


The hypnotic state, or trance, can allow positive suggestions for changes in behaviours and emotions connected with smoking to take place much faster than is usually possible in a fully conscious state. The patient is fully aware of what is taking place at all times.

Whichever method you chose it is never too late to quite. Here are some interesting statistics about quitting.

  • After 8 hours of quitting: nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood reduce by half and oxygen levels increase to normal.
  • After 48 hours of quitting: no nicotine remains in the body and the ability to taste and smell is greatly improved.
  • After 3-9 months: coughs, wheezing and breathing problems improve as lung function is increased by up to 10%.
  • After 5 years: the risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.
  • After 10 years: the risk of a heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked.
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