Smoking in pregnancy and in the postpartum

Smoking during your pregnancy can cause some serious complications such as:

  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Low birth weight
  • Premature birth
  • Stillbirth
  • Sudden unexpected infant death (SIDS)
  • 40% increased chance of infant mortality
  • Your baby has an increased chance of respiratory health problems like asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia as well as problems with the ear, nose and throat
  • Association with psychological problems in childhood like ADHD and disruptive behaviour, as well as a negative impact on your child’s educational performance

Why quit?

We recommend all pregnant clients and their partners quit smoking, rather than cutting down on smoking, during their pregnancy and after their baby arrives. Not only will smoking reduce the risks listed above, but it will also benefit your own health, as you will be less likely to develop lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic lung disease. Other benefits to quitting include more energy, easier breathing, and everything will smell better including you and your home.  Your food will taste better, and you will have more money to spend on other things!

Second hand smoke:

This term refers to other people who smoke around you or your baby. Second hand smoke can cause harmful effects to a pregnant person and her baby. Breathing even a bit of smoke can be harmful. Your baby will be at risk of:

  • Being smaller at birth, 
  • Developing ear infections
  • Having asthma
  • SIDS

Protect yourself and your children by attempting to make your environment as smoke free as possible. If your partner or other family members smoke, ask them to smoke outside, wash their hands after smoking, keep doors and windows closed to prevent smoke from coming inside and change outdoor clothing after smoking.

How can I get help to quit?

There are many free resources, groups, help lines and aids to help you or/and your partner to quit smoking.

Breastfeeding and Smoking -

Even if you do smoke, we still encourage you to breastfeed your baby. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the harmful effects of tobacco on your baby’s health. Try to cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke, change your clothes after smoking before touching your baby, wash your hands after smoking and have a smoke free home and car.

What about e-cigarettes (vaping)?

E-cigarettes have not been fully tested for safety and we do not advise these during pregnancy or in the postpartum. We encourage you to quit smoking in all forms during pregnancy, and follow the rules of smoking outside away from baby during the postpartum should you choose to use e-cigarettes.

Health Canada warns people not to buy e-cigarettes as they have unknown health risks.