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Smoking Moms
Health and Wellness Articles by Pulse

Smoking Moms: The Effects of Smoking on Fertility, Pregnancy, & Babies


Smoking while pregnant puts you and your baby’s health at risk. Although it’s best to quit smoking before getting pregnant, quitting mid-pregnancy can still protect you and your baby from certain health problems.


Even before you get pregnant, smoking can affect fertility for both males and females:

  • Women who smoke have more trouble getting pregnant compared to non-smokers.

  • In men, smoking can damage sperm and lead to impotence (erectile dysfunction).


How can smoking during pregnancy harm my baby?

Smoking can harm your baby in the following ways:

  • Your baby may be born too small; smoking also slows the baby’s growth after birth.

  • Your baby may be born too early (premature); premature babies also often have further health problems later in life.

  • Your baby’s developing lungs and brain could be damaged, which could last through childhood and into adolescence.

  • Your baby will have a higher risk of birth defects (cleft lip, cleft palate, or both). A cleft is an opening in the lip or roof of the mouth, which can lead to trouble eating and usually requires surgery.

  • Your baby will have a higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome.


Smoking also doubles your risk for abnormal bleeding during pregnancy and delivery, which can put both you and your baby in danger.


What will a premature birth mean for my baby?

Babies who are born too early will miss out on vital growth that happens in the womb during the final months and weeks of pregnancy.

The earlier a child is born, the greater the chances for serious health issues or death. Premature babies can experience:


Can I smoke e-cigarettes during pregnancy as a safe alternative?

Vaping during pregnancy is also unsafe. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can permanently damage your baby’s developing brain and organs. The flavorings in e-cigarettes may also be harmful to your baby.


If I quit smoking midway through pregnancy, will it still be beneficial to my baby?

Quitting smoking during any point of your pregnancy will help, although quitting before Week 15 will provide the greatest benefits to your baby, and quitting before the third trimester will eliminate most of the risk of low birth weight.

When you quit smoking, your baby will:

  • Get more oxygen (even after one day)

  • Grow better

  • Be less likely to be born premature


You will also, as a mother, breathe more easily, have more energy, and be less likely to develop heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and lung disease!