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Maternity Unit

Smoking and drinking

Smoking and drinking can be harmful to both mother and baby during pregnancy.

Smoking during pregnancy

Stopping smoking benefits both you and your baby immediately. Carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals will clear from the body and oxygen levels will return to normal.

Stop_smoking.jpgWhen you smoke, 4,000 chemicals and a poisonous gas called carbon monoxide pass into your lungs making less oxygen available for the baby which means the baby will be smaller than it should be. For every cigarette you smoke, the oxygen supplied to the baby is disrupted and your baby experiences reduced blood flow for 15 minutes.

If you stop smoking at any point during your pregnancy it is beneficial to you and your baby, the sooner you stop, the greater the benefit for both of you.

If you stop smoking:

  • you will reduce the risk of stillbirth 
  • you will reduce the risk of cot death
  • you are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and baby 
  • your baby will cope better if there are any birth complications
  • your baby is less likely to have breathing difficulties, feeding and the health problems that occur with prematurity
  • your baby is less likely to suffer with asthma, chest infections, coughs and colds and be admitted to hospital.

Stopping smoking

With help from the NHS you are four times more likely to be able to stop smoking.

Talk to your midwife or GP about your local NHS Stop Smoking Services. Alternatively, call the NHS Pregnancy Smoking Helpline for support on

  • tel: 0800 169 9 169 (12noon to 9.00pm daily).

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

NRT works in a different way to cigarettes. It does not contain toxic chemicals like tar or carbon monoxide. NRT is suitable for most people but when you are pregnant you must check with your doctor. An example of NRT is nicotine patches which are suitable for most regular smokers, but when you are pregnant you should remove the patch before going to bed. There is also Nicotine gum which allows nicotine to be absorbed through the lining of your mouth.

If you cannot stop smoking, there are still benefits to you and your baby in reducing the amount you smoke. Visit for more advice.

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