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Smoking before pregnancy

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During the months before you become pregnant, there are some important things that you can do to improve your chances of becoming pregnant and set the scene for a healthier pregnancy and healthier baby. One of the lifestyle changes you should now be thinking about is giving up smoking (tobacco and/or marijuana).

Tobacco and your baby

If you are thinking about getting pregnant and you are a smoker, this is a good time to give up smoking.

  • Giving up smoking is one of the best things that you can do for your own health as well as for the health of your baby - both before your baby is born and afterwards.
  • If you give up smoking now, you will feel more energetic and healthy - ready for the demands of being pregnant and being a mother.
  • If you have a partner who smokes, this is also an ideal time for your partner to quit. It will give you extra support, and both you and your future baby won't be living in a smoky home.

Trying to get pregnant

Smoking while you are trying to get pregnant may make it harder to become pregnant.

Women who smoke:

  • May be about 25% less likely to become pregnant in the first 12 months of trying if they smoke 20 or more cigarettes per day. This returns to normal if a woman stops smoking.
  • Have poorer results with fertility treatments
  • Have a higher miscarriage rate
  • Earlier onset of menopause (the age when monthly periods stop).

Women who have stopped smoking take no longer to become pregnant than women who have never smoked.

Men who smoke have:

  • A reduced sperm count and reduced numbers of healthy sperm
  • A higher risk of impotence (problems with erection)
  • Increased asthma in their children.

If you have a partner who smokes he can improve his own fertility and health by quitting smoking at the same time as you.

It's one of the most positive things you can do together in preparing for parenthood. When you are both non-smokers you will feel so good about yourselves and the fact that you are giving your future child the healthiest possible start in life.

Have a look at the topic 'Problems in becoming pregnant'.

Smoking during pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy increases your chances of having

  • a baby smaller in size than is normal for its age
  • a baby born early (a preterm baby)
  • a still birth (born dead)
  • a baby who has respiratory (breathing) illnesses.

Small babies are often less able to cope with the stress of labour and delivery.

See Smoking during pregnancy.

So there are some good reasons to quit.


Trying to quit can be hard but there is a lot of support available.

  • Have a chat to your doctor, midwife or pharmacist about quitting.
  • You can also call

Nicotine replacement patches or gum

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding it is strongly recommended that you check with your doctor or pharmacist before using Nicotine Replacement Therapy as some forms of NRT are more suitable than others.

Cannabis (Marijuana)

Cannabis (marijuana) use during pregnancy has not been shown to cause an increased rate of birth defects, but, like tobacco use, the baby’s growth may be reduced. There is some evidence that exposure to cannabis before birth affects a baby's behaviour and may cause long-term behaviour problems.

For more information, have a look at:


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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.


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