Reasons to stop smoking

Giving up smoking (and staying stopped) is the single best thing you and your partner/family can do for you, and your baby and your entire family. Stopping before or during early pregnancy is best, but it is still good for you and your baby to stop at any point.

Your midwife or GP can put you in touch with stop smoking services, some specifically for pregnant women, who will support you and help you to stop. Help and information about services is also available from Smokeline on 0800 84 84 84 or visit

Why stop?

Most people are aware that smoking during pregnancy is harmful to both mum and baby. You may not be aware of the specific risks.

As well as the risk of pregnancy and labour complications, research has shown that growth is affected in babies whose mothers smoke during their pregnancy. They may be born too early and weigh less than normal. A baby with low birth weight may pick up infections more easily, can have difficulty breathing during and after birth and may have health and wellbeing problems that last through childhood and beyond.

There is strong evidence that if you, or someone in your household, smokes it will affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health. So there has never been a better time to stop. If you stop smoking, you will reduce risks to your pregnancy such as complications in pregnancy and labour, miscarriage or stillbirth, and also reduce risks to your baby such as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and respiratory/breathing problems including chronic conditions such as asthma. You will also notice other benefits such as having more time and money available for a treat, improved skin and teeth and taste, and fresher smelling breath and hair and clothes, as well as having a reduced risk of other life-threatening diseases (eg heart and lung).

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous chemical that is present in your body because of smoking. Carbon monoxide testing should now be offered to all pregnant women to show them the risks of smoking (and second-hand smoke exposure) and help support their attempts to quit.

Go smoke-free

The best thing for you and your baby is to stop smoking and to limit your family's exposure to second-hand smoke.

Second hand smoke can affect babies still in the womb. If you breathe in second-hand smoke, the chemicals in the smoke make their way to your unborn baby. Second-hand smoke lingers in the air. You can't see it or smell it, but it's there.  The harmful chemicals move easily from room to room, taking about an hour to reduce by 50% and may even linger for up to five hours, even with the window open and the door closed.  Making your home and car smoke-free is the only way to protect yourself and others, especially babies and children, from second-hand smoke.

Babies and other young children who live with people who smoke (parents, brothers, sisters or family friends) are likely to be harmed by breathing in second-hand smoke. Smoking regularly near a baby is one of the main known causes of cot death (sudden infant death syndrome) (see reducing the risk of cot death) Other carers should never smoke near your baby. If there are smokers in the house who are unable to give up, get them to smoke outside.

Useful resources

Take it right outside - Second-hand smoke

For more information and tips to help you choose clean air for yourself and your family.

Fresh Start - Giving up smoking is the single best thing you can do for your baby!

You'll find this booklet helpful if you're a smoker who's trying for a baby, pregnant or have just had a baby. Find out about reasons to quit, the effects of smoking and how to get support when stopping smoking.

Aspire to Stop Smoking

This booklet highlights the health benefits of stopping smoking and presents essential facts about nicotine replacement therapy. It also points smokers to sources of help and support.

How to Stop Smoking and Stay Stopped

This booklet can help you to decide if you are ready to stop and how to go about it.

For help and information about stop smoking services or any of these NHS Health Scotland leaflets visit

Last Updated: 27 February 2015
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