You have two good reasons to give up those cigarettes: your health and your baby’s. For you, smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and a host of other problems. But lighting up during pregnancy is even worse for your baby, according to the March of Dimes. It increases your risk of having a premature baby (infants whose mothers smoke are more likely to face serious illnesses and disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and mental retardation), doubles your risk of having a baby with a low birth weight, triples the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and is linked to miscarriages, problems with the placenta and birth defects.
It’s never too late to stop. Quitting as early as possible in your pregnancy can still help avoid some complications. To stomp out your nicotine habit:
- Pick a day to quit. Toss out your cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays on your chosen day.
- Avoid situations that make you want to smoke. For example, don’t hang around outside your office with all the other smokers.
- Ask your healthcare provider about quit-smoking aids. Not every method is appropriate during pregnancy, so talk to him or her before you try anything.
- Get support. Ask your husband, friends and family to help. If you feel the need to smoke, call one of them instead.
- Write down your reasons for quitting. Then, look at that list when you’re craving a cigarette.
- Need more info? Call the Tobacco Research and Intervention Program toll-free at 1-877-9-KICK IT (1-877-954-2548).
After your baby is born, stick to your smoke-free lifestyle, since secondhand smoke can cause bronchitis, asthma and ear infections in infants.