Pregnant? Congratulations!

Blog Post created by dr_hurt on Jun 26, 2009
At this stage in your life, it may be more important than ever to stop smoking. Recent research suggests that if a woman stops smoking by the 15th week of pregnancy this may reduce the risk of having an underweight baby or giving birth prematurely to that of a woman who never smoked! (1) Babies born small and/or early are at higher risk for serious health problems, developmental delays, and infant death. Poor pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage and stillbirth are also associated with maternal smoking. Staying smoke-free after your child is born is just as important. Infants exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to suffer from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, ear infections, as well as behavioral problems and lower achievement and intelligence test scores. (2) In all of the excitement of a pregnancy, much of the motivation to stop smoking is often focused on having a healthy baby. But don’t forget about you! You now have the opportunity to make the commitment to stay smoke-free forever, for you and your family.

Remember these points:

Stop smoking for yourself – to be healthy and strong for your child.
Replace smoking with new, healthy behaviors you can use for a lifetime to cope with stress now and after your baby arrives. Try deep breathing, using your sense of humor, and choosing healthy snacks.
Think of all the ways you can spend the money you will save!
Get support. Spend time with people who are behind you in your decision to quit smoking and who will cheer you on when the going gets tough.
There are tobacco dependence treatment medications that are safe to use during pregnancy. Ask your doctor about using a medication to help you stop smoking if you find yourself needing a little extra help.
Continue to go to becomeanex.org and set up your profile and start with your quit plan. You can do this!


1) McCowan, L. et al. Spontaneous Preterm Birth and Small for Gestational Age Infants in Women Who Stop Smoking Early in Pregnancy: Prospective Cohort Study. March 27, 2009, BMJ, online.

2) Byrd RS, Howard CR, Children’s Passive and Prenatal Exposure to Cigarette Smoke. Pediatric Annals, 1995.

Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated over 33,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org