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Having A Baby

Smoking In Pregnancy

Experts agree that one of the best things for the health of pregnant women, as well as for the health of the growing baby is for the woman, and those she lives with, to stop smoking.

Health professionals will do all they can to help you stop smoking. The team caring for you during pregnancy will always ask you about your tobacco use. This is to make sure that you are given the right information about the affects of smoking and offered support to stop.

It is important that you are honest with the team. They are there to help you not judge you.

The COVID-19 virus becomes serious when it attacks the lungs in some people. This makes smokers more at risk. Smoking also damages the immune system, reducing the body’s natural protection against infections. This means smokers are at greater risk of getting complications from coronavirus. The illness may last longer and be more serious than it would be for someone who does not smoke.

Pregnant women have been identified as a group who need to take extra care during the virus outbreak. Smoking / passive smoking may increase the risks. Stopping smoking is something you and your family can do to help keep you and your baby safe.

For more information listen to this Smokefree Norfolk podcast covering support in pregnancy.

Dive Deeper

Why Stop Smoking?

There is a lot of information about how harmful smoking is to us all. We know it is also dangerous for unborn babies.

Smokefree Norfolk’s video helps you to understand more about why it is important to stop smoking during pregnancy.

Being Smoke Free

One of the best things you can do for the health of your growing family and yourself is to be ‘smoke free’. It is important that partners, family and friends understand that it is not just when the pregnant person smokes there is a risk to the unborn baby. All second hand smoke is dangerous.

Some of the serious risks to babies exposed to smoking in the womb are that they;

  • May not get enough oxygen in the womb
  • Could be born early, and smaller than they should be
  • Are at a higher risk from miscarriage, still birth and sudden infant death syndrome (cot death).

Stopping smoking is the best way to keep your baby healthy. *Click Here* to read more about the ways babies can be harmed. 

Ideally you should quit smoking once you are planning a baby, or as soon you find out a baby is on the way to minimise the risk. If you haven’t already quit then stopping as soon as you can will still be the best decision for the health of your baby and for you!

If you are pregnant speak up for your baby to keep them safe and smoke free. Ask others not to smoke around you or in places where you spend time

Support Available 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! You are four times more likely to stop successfully if you get help from a professional service.

If you, or a loved one, are pregnant you might feel worried that you will struggle to quit. You might feel guilty and judged for smoking – don’t let that put you off finding out more about quitting. 

Health professionals know it can be tough to stop smoking. That is why there are free NHS Services to support you.

During the COVID-19 outbreak you will still be able to get support from a Quit Smoking Advisor. Your appointments can take place by phone. They can make sure that you can still access the free nicotine replacement therapies you are eligible for.

They can also discuss vaping if that is something you are thinking about. Whilst this is not as good as a complete ‘stop’ experts agree it is less harmful than smoking tobacco.

Get in touch with Smokefree Norfolk or OneLife Suffolk for more information and support.

Carbon Monoxide Monitoring

Carbon Monixide (CO) is a harmful, poisonous gas. Breathing it in can make you unwell. If Carbon Monoxide is breathed in, it can enter your blood stream and mix with the haemoglobin – the part of your red blood cells which normally carry oxygen around your body. When this happens, the haemoglobin cannot take oxygen around your body anymore and cells and tissues begin to die. 

During your antenatal appointments your midwife will usually ask to check the CO levels in your breath by asking you to blow into a machine which measures the levels of CO. Women who live by a busy road, or perhaps have a faulty gas appliance at home or whose partner smokes around them will have higher levels of CO in their breath. We also know that women who are smokers will have a higher reading of CO in their breath as Carbon Monoxide is present in cigarette smoke. 

Knowing the levels of CO in your body will help the midwives to make a plan of support for you, if you are a smoker, your midwife will ask you at each appointment about this and will support you to reduce or quit smoking all together. There is a variety of support and resources available to help you. 

Your midwife will continue to ask you about smoking and signpost you to services which can help. You will still be able to get support from a Quit Smoking advisor. Your appointments with them will take place by phone. You will still be able to access the free nicotine replacement therapies you are eligible for. 

Who can Help?

Get in touch with Smokefree Norfolk for more information and support, or call 0800 085 4133.

Get in touch with OneLife Suffolk for more information and support, or call 01473 718193.

If you feel worried and want more advice you can speak to your midwife. 

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below.

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