Pregnant Womans Belly

Tobacco Free Pregnancy

Tobacco Free Pregnancy

Thinking about having a sweet, cuddly, cooing baby? Or already pregnant? If you are a woman who smokes or vapes, chances are you've seen the "Surgeon General's Warning: Smoking by Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight."

Still thinking of getting pregnant? If you smoke or vape, you have one of the strongest inspirations to quit smoking. Here's why you’ll want to quit for good this time.


From the start, smoking can have a negative impact on trying to become pregnant. Women who smoke are 3-4 times more likely to take more than a year to get pregnant. The bad news doesn't end there. Women who smoke are also 3 times more likely to be infertile.


John M. Harch, MD, FACS

"We all know smoking is bad for you, but it is devastating for babies," says retired surgeon John Harch, M.D., FACS. "Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals and all the toxins inhaled by a pregnant woman go to the fetus."

Dr. Harch explains that carcinogens in smoke cause DNA damage in the placenta and the fetus. Therefore, rates increase for miscarriage and placental bleeding. The most damaging chemicals in tobacco smoke? Nicotine and carbon monoxide, that we know of.

Dr. Harch is very concerned about the possible effects nicotine and carbon monoxide may have when shared from mother to baby. "Nicotine is a potent vascoconstrictor in the umbilical cord and placenta, which decreases blood flow to the baby. Carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen supplied to the baby because it occupies the sites on the hemoglobin normally reserved for oxygen molecules and binds 210 times more strongly than oxygen. It's no wonder that smoking during pregnancy doubles the chance for premature birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth."

Simply put, carbon monoxide deprives your baby of much needed oxygen while developing in utero. Nicotine can adversely affect uterine and placental blood flow by causing constriction of the blood vessels.

John M. Harch, MD, FACS is a retired general surgeon. He is a member of Siskiyou County's Tobacco Education Council (a partnership with First 5 Siskiyou Children & Families Commission).


Exposing your developing baby to the carcinogens in tobacco smoke is probably not on your "must do" list while pregnant. However, if you've tried to quit smoking or vaping before, you're aware that quitting won’t be easy. Smoking and vaping is addictive. Why not get some help? Call Kick It California for FREE one on one coaching at 800-300-8086.


There are many risks to a developing baby when a woman continues to smoke or vape during pregnancy. Here are just a few of the risks to your baby. Please think about quitting for your baby’s sake.

  • Congenital heart disease (smoking in 1st trimester)
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Miscarriage
  • Infant death (1 in 10 attributed to smoking)

When a woman stops smoking during pregnancy, after just one day, her baby starts getting more oxygen. Dr. Harch's best advice? "If you smoke, the best way to have a healthy pregnancy and protect your infant or young child from tobacco toxins is to stop smoking or vaping."

Secondhand Smoke

Thirdhand Smoke

Think of your baby crawling across the carpet or snuggling with a favorite blanket where tobacco toxins linger. Toys, books, pacifiers - nearly everything goes into your curious baby's mouth, and everything in a home or car where people smoke is contaminated with thirdhand smoke. 


When a woman stops smoking during pregnancy, after just one day, her baby starts getting more oxygen.

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