Smoking and Tobacco Cessation: Pregnancy

Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing lung cancer, as well as diabetes, heart failure, other forms of cancer and several other serious medical problems. Smoking can also make becoming pregnant more difficult and increases the likelihood of having a miscarriage. Smoking during pregnancy can lead to multiple issues, such as problems with the placenta—the source of the baby's food and oxygen during pregnancy; the placenta can separate from the womb too early, causing bleeding, which is dangerous to the mother and baby. Contrary to what some may believe, e-cigarettes are not safer.

Some doctors believe that smoking is the number one cause of adverse outcomes for babies. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including things like cyanide, lead, and at least 60 cancer-causing compounds. When you smoke during pregnancy, those toxic chemicals get into your bloodstream, your baby's only source of oxygen and nutrients.

Smoking during pregnancy causes a variety of health problems for the baby, including premature birth (being born too early), low birth weight, certain birth defects and even death.

On average, smoking during pregnancy doubles the chances that a baby will be born too early or weigh less than 5 1/2 pounds at birth. Smoking also more than doubles the risk of stillbirth.

Unfortunately, quitting smoking can be quite a difficult process. Gaining support from family, friends, past smokers and/or actual support groups is the first step to successfully quitting the habit. Cone Health offers a program called QuitSmart to help you quit smoking permanently with the help of instructors and the support of a group. Expectant mothers in the community are fortunate as Cone Health provides exceptional women’s services, such as the Center for Maternal Fetal Care at Women’s Hospital, that are dedicated to educating mothers and families during pregnancy and providing them with proper care.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Kelly Leggett specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at the Center for Women's Healthcare and is the Clinical Transformation Officer for Cone Health. She is a 2000 graduate of Wake Forest University School of Medicine and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.