Smoking During Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Smoking during pregnancy

Pregnancy and nicotine – they just don’t go together. Anyone who finds out they are pregnant should stop smoking immediately. Smoking during pregnancy is considered taboo. However, it is advisable to give up smoking before the active planning phase. This applies not only to women, but also to men.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Apart from the typical symptoms of smoking, such as coughing or an altered sense of smell, smoking during pregnancy does not cause any problems for the mother herself. However, the problems for the unborn child can be serious. A typical sign of smoking during pregnancy is babies that are too small, both in the womb and at birth.

This is due to the poorer supply in the mother’s womb, which in turn can be explained by smoking. Smoking worsens the blood circulation and thus ensures that the child does not get enough care – visible in the lower weight and smaller size. In addition, the substance nicotine also reaches the baby during pregnancy.

So the baby smokes passively. In this respect, children whose mother smoked during pregnancy first have to go through nicotine withdrawal after birth. Typical symptoms of this are increased crying, overstretching and restlessness . Statistically speaking, smokers are more likely to give birth prematurely .

This goes hand in hand with the typical complications of immature organs, which can also be fatal depending on the week of pregnancy. The children of smokers weigh an average of two hundred grams less at birth than children of mothers who do not smoke. If the birth weight is very low overall, the risk of complications for the child increases.

Smoking is harmful – now more than ever!

Even before the pregnancy test shows a positive result, you should swear off the fags. This applies not only to women, but also to men. Because – even if many people are of the opinion that it is not true – passive smoke is also harmful.

Smoking during pregnancy and the unborn child. Because the tobacco smoke that is exhaled contains the same carcinogenic and toxic ingredients as a directly inhaled cigarette. Physicians summarize all of the health damage caused by cigarette smoke under the collective term “ fetal tobacco syndrome ”.

  • effects on the mother

The fact is that smoking pregnant women have a high risk of miscarriage . Smoking promotes the detachment of the placenta from the uterus – the so-called placenta detachment. The placenta detachment leads to premature births, but also to miscarriages or stillbirths . The unborn grow much slower. There is also a risk of cleft lip . This creates a gap in the middle of the upper lip, which expands towards the nose.

  • effects on the child

But smoking during pregnancy also causes problems in the further development of the child. Studies have shown that children of women who smoked during pregnancy have significantly poorer lung function and often suffer from allergies and asthma . Respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia are also not uncommon.

Obesity , middle ear infections and diabetes mellitus (type II) as well as diseases of the cardiovascular system also occur more frequently. Children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are also more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). There is also the possibility of numerous development restrictions at times .

In the children of women who smoked during pregnancy, for example, it was found that behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders (ADHD), delayed mental development and a reduced IQ were the result. Children of smokers also had a higher risk of acute myeloid leukemia (blood cancer) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (lymphatic cancer).

Smoking cessation tips

If you stop smoking immediately before pregnancy or after the positive result, you protect your child from numerous diseases. Most women who are pregnant stop smoking. In many cases, the cigarette no longer “tastes good”. If you can’t get rid of the addiction, you can also seek medical advice.

The doctor treating you will of course help you to stop smoking and advise pregnant women on any treatment options to stop nicotine consumption. There are also numerous smoking cessation courses available to help break the habit. It is advisable that such offers are taken up before pregnancy.

Anyone who thinks that it will be difficult for them to quit smoking should therefore fight their addiction before they become pregnant. If both parents are smokers, it is advisable to stop smoking together. If you have support, it will sometimes be easier to get rid of the fags.

Why nicotine patches & e-cigarettes are not an alternative

It’s no secret that nicotine is actually bad for your health during pregnancy. Any nicotine replacement therapies such as smoking patches or nicotine chewing gum also pose a risk to the child. Finally, numerous toxins (poisons) are also released here, which enter the bloodstream directly.

For this reason, it is important that nicotine chewing gum, smoking patches or other aids are avoided. The e-cigarette should not be used as an alternative either. However, it is possible and also advisable that such replacement therapies and options are used before the woman is pregnant, so that smoking can be given up – before pregnancy. If you still want to stop using nicotine substitutes even though you are pregnant, you should contact your doctor in advance and draw up a joint treatment plan.

Desire to have children? Keep your hands off the glow stick!

If you want to have children, you should take a few precautions in advance. Finally – in addition to obesity and an unhealthy diet – cigarettes are also a key reason why it doesn’t always work. If you want to increase your chances of conceiving, you need to stop smoking. The fact is that quitting smoking doubles the chances of conception.

Not only the woman is challenged, but also the man. Nicotine abuse damages the sperm in such a way that on the one hand the number is reduced and on the other hand the motility is restricted. Studies from fertility clinics have shown that non-smokers become pregnant much faster.


Complications caused by smoking during pregnancy are mainly due to a lack of care for the child. With smoking, the blood vessels, including those within the placenta, constrict. As a result, the child’s care can be restricted in such a way that, in the worst case, the baby dies in the womb. Poor care of the child in the stomach can also be determined during the check-up using the appropriate ultrasound examinations.However, the situation for the baby in the womb can also deteriorate unexpectedly quickly and, in the worst case, have fatal consequences. Many children of smokers are born with a significantly low birth weight, which is due to the insufficient supply of nutrients. A low birth weight can promote complications such as breathing and general adjustment problems in the first few days of life.

However, smoking during pregnancy also means that the child has already become accustomed to nicotine in the womb. If the direct biological connection to the mother via the umbilical cord is severed after birth, no more nicotine can enter the child’s body. He then experiences withdrawal. Such withdrawal means stress and anxiety for the newborn. The children of smokers cry correspondingly more and need a few days to cope with the physical withdrawal from nicotine.


If the woman manages to stop smoking during pregnancy, no further immediate measures need to be taken. The gynecologist will continue to monitor for problems associated with smoking, such as a hardened placenta or stunted growth in the child. If necessary, closer prenatal care is recommended if there is a significantly increased risk.

If you do not smoke until the end of the pregnancy, no general follow-up measures are required either. However, the child should be well examined so that any existing problems can be treated adequately. According to the latest findings, it is also beneficial for the children of smokers if they are breastfed. This reduces the increased risk of allergies caused by smoking, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is also less likely.

Breastfeeding should not occur immediately after smoking. However, the best measure to reduce the risk and thus to protect the child is after the birth if the mother stops smoking, otherwise the child will continue to be exposed to the harmful substances through the skin, hair and breath of the child, even with thorough hygiene measures mother is exposed. This also applies to other smoking family members who have close contact with the infant.

Doesn’t mix well: pregnancy and cigarettes

Anyone who is pregnant should stop smoking immediately. However, it is advisable to start weaning before you become pregnant – even if you are planning to have children. This applies not only to women, but also to men. Anyone who still decides to smoke cigarettes must be aware that they are actively harming the health of the unborn child.

In addition, the woman must also live with the fact that she has an increased risk of having a premature birth, a miscarriage or even a stillbirth, or has “actively” worked to harm the child in such a way that it is not healthy (or alive). the world is coming

When should you go to the doctor?

Smoking during pregnancy has been declared a taboo and will be communicated to expectant mothers as soon as they are diagnosed by a gynaecologist . As a first step, the pregnant woman should try to stop smoking herself using various methods that are offered. In addition to restructuring everyday life and changes in the environment, it is also helpful to avoid places where people smoke. Contact with nicotine should always be avoided. Complete smoking cessation should be implemented immediately to reduce the risk of complications.

If the pregnant woman needs support in the smoking cessation process, despite all the measures she has taken on her own responsibility, she should seek the advice and support of a doctor. In cooperation with the gynecologist or the obstetric team, techniques and methods can be developed that are helpful. In many cases, it is about avoiding relapses, as even a small amount of nicotine has harmful effects.

The check-ups offered during the gestation are to be observed. The state of health of mother and child is examined at these appointments. In addition, the development progress or abnormalities are documented. If there are discrepancies outside of the examination appointments, a doctor’s visit is necessary as soon as possible. Smoking during pregnancy can lead to premature death of the fetus. Therefore, there is a need for immediate action in the event of sudden changes.

You can do that yourself

Pregnant women should not smoke during pregnancy. In order to quit smoking, a comprehensive health check should first be carried out. This ensures that the withdrawal symptoms do not have a negative impact on the baby’s development.

Ideally, a smoking break should be taken at the beginning or even before pregnancy. Expectant mothers should throw away all cigarettes and ask their husband or a friend to help them quit. The actual rehab works best if you keep reminding yourself of the benefits that the process will have on the child’s health. General measures such as distraction and a healthy diet also apply. Long walks can be effective, but so can a new hobby. Anyone who needs help with quitting can turn to a self-help group or first register on an Internet forum. If in doubt, the doctor will also prescribe light nicotine patches or natural preparations that support withdrawal.

Since withdrawal is always associated with complications such as moodiness, palpitations and the like, it is important to consult your doctor closely. Unusual complaints should be clarified immediately. In the first few months of pregnancy, exercise makes it easier to withdraw from nicotine. Should a relapse nevertheless occur, you should go straight back into withdrawal for the good of the child.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.