12 Dec, 2023

The risks of smoking during pregnancy

Young pregnant Pacific mother

Most of us know about the risks to our health from smoking (you can read more here) but did you know that smoking when pregnant can affect you AND your unborn baby?

When a pregnant woman smokes, harmful toxins can enter the bloodstream and pass through the placenta to baby. This causes problems during pregnancy, birth and affects the health of the baby after they are born.

  • Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage, SUDI (sudden unexplained death in infancy) and still birth.
  • There is a higher risk of premature birth if the mother has smoked during pregnancy. Premature babies are more likely to have health conditions such asthma and feeding issues.
  • Smoking while pregnant increases the risk of baby developing pneumonia and glue ear. Which can impact them for the rest of their lives.
  • Babies born to mothers that smoke weigh 200-300 grams less than the average baby. Lower birth weight impacts a baby’s ability to gain weight and fight infections.

There is also an impact on the mother’s body during and post pregnancy.

  • Nicotine in cigarettes increases the risk of surgical site wound infections.
  • It also impacts the body’s ability for wound healing, which makes recovery after baby is born harder.

Quitting at any time in pregnancy makes a difference.

Even if a pregnant woman has smoked for a part of their pregnancy, quitting will still benefit both her and pēpi.

Just 24 hours without smoking, and the body starts to reset. Every moment smokefree counts!

Understanding the dangers of smoking is one thing, but quitting isn’t easy. Seeking help and support is key to breaking the habit.

If you, or someone you know is pregnant and smoking, there are ways we can help. Our pēpi deserve the best start in life possible, so we have a special programme designed for hapu mamas and their whānau to get a smokefree home.

This includes:

  • 12-week comprehensive support: Our extended smokefree programme offers help through phone calls and meetings with your Quit Coach.
  • Vouchers up to the value of $350 to motivate you on your smokefree journey. As rewards for smokefree milestones, your quit coach will reward you with vouchers (one week, 4 week, 12 weeks etc).
  • Smokefree family support: When quitting as a family, it is much easier to stay quit and māmās feel more supported and less judged.
  • We also have special family sessions at Churches. This includes coming in with your children (if any) and husband, meeting and connecting with other māmās who are also struggling to quit smoking.