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Why should I quit smoking if I'm planning to have a baby?

If you are planning to become pregnant, quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health and the health of your future baby. Women who smoke during pregnancy have a higher rate of infant death, low birth weight and premature babies. Furthermore, smoking, as well as secondhand smoke, can also make it more difficult for a woman to become pregnant, by decreasing fertility. Once a woman is pregnant, oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the baby by an organ called the placenta. In women who smoke, the passage of oxygen and nutrients across the placenta, from mom to baby, is significantly impaired due to constriction of the blood vessels involved in the placenta. Not only is smoking bad for the placenta, but it can also cause direct harm to the baby by altering the baby's DNA, which could lead to diseases later on in life. If you plan to become pregnant and are currently smoking, talk with your doctor. There are many options available to help people kick the habit.
If you're thinking about having a baby -- or if you're pregnant right now -- you have good reasons to quit:
  • Improve your chances of becoming pregnant. Studies show that smokers -- both women and men -- are less fertile than non-smokers.
  • Lower your chances of having a miscarriage or serious problems with your pregnancy. When you smoke, you breathe in carbon monoxide -- the same gas that comes out of your car's tailpipe.
  • Increase the chance that your baby will be born healthy. The earlier you quit, the better for your baby. Yet even later in a pregnancy, you can lower the risk to your baby by stopping smoking.
  • Lower your baby's risk of dying from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Women who smoke during and after pregnancy also put their babies at a higher risk of asthma and infections.
For many women, pregnancy provides the motivation to make a break at last. In fact, research shows that women are more likely to quit tobacco during pregnancy than at other times in their lives.

If you managed to quit tobacco during your pregnancy, it's a great time to stay quit. And if you didn't, it's not too late to stop.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.