It is often the case that, when a woman finds out that she is pregnant, that is also the moment when she decides to stop smoking. Controlled and/or supported smoking cessation may be an option.

Smoke-free pregnancy

An unborn baby benefits during every moment of the pregnancy during which the exposure to tobacco smoke is reduced. It is preferable to be completely smoke-free.

Smoking cessation during pregnancy is strongly recommended. There are even more advantages when a woman stops smoking before getting pregnant. In this case, your body will have enough time to rid itself of all the harmful residual products resulting from tobacco use. That way you can give your baby a clean environment from the very start. What's more, there is an increased probability that you will become pregnant more quickly. Future fathers who stop smoking also increase the chance of a pregnancy, since the quality of the sperm cells are significantly better (number, mobility, normal shape of the sperm cells).

The advantages of a smoke-free pregnancy are summarised here:

  • Less chance of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth.
  • Increased chance of a problem-free birth of a full-term baby (average birth weight and optimal gestational age).
  • Lower chance of abnormalities of the mouth, feet and heart.
  • Reduced chance of a premature rupture of membranes, of a placental rupture or a placenta previa. The placenta works better, and as a result, the baby develops better.
  • A better immune system for the newborn baby, with fewer hospital admissions during the first eight months of life.
  • Even after just one day, there is a better flow of oxygen to the baby because the carbon dioxide released when a cigarette burns leaves the mother's circulation. After about one week, nicotine also disappears from the blood.
  • A better condition of the future mother, with smoother breathing (an advantage during labour and birth).
  • Increased chance of a better sucking reflex.
  • Less chance that your baby will later develop an addiction to tobacco.

Breastfeeding

(Passive) smoking reduces the quality, the taste and the quantity of breastmilk (less than 250 ml per day). Smoking can also cause a reduced let-down reflex. But even then, even if you smoke (moderately), breastfeeding has advantages. Breastmilk contains components that protect the baby against all sorts of infections and helps improve the baby's budding immune system.

Impact on your baby's health

Babies and children who grow up in a smoke-free environment:

  • have less chance of lower respiratory tract diseases
  • have better lung development
  • have less chance of asthmatic symptoms, wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • have fewer colds and allergic reactions
  • have less chance of SIDS (the risk is drastically reduced)
  • have fewer irritations of the eye and mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and throat
  • run a greatly reduced risk of middle ear infections (the probability is reduced by half)
  • are much less susceptible to a meningococcal infection
  • cry less as babies and exhibit less frequent behaviour problems

There are also positive long-term effects on your child. These include heart and vascular diseases, (lung) cancer, COPD, addiction, reduced fertility and cervical cancer.

The best way to keep your children from using tobacco is by giving them a ‘good model’. Two birds with one stone: a healthier life for yourself and for your child.

Help with smoking cessation

Are you thinking about quitting or would you simply like more information? Go to the webpage 'Help with smoking cessation' for more information and contact persons.