Smoking and pregnancy

If you smoke you'll have a greater chance of pregnancy and labour complications. The earlier you stop, the better it is for you and your baby. It's never too late to stop, even if you leave it until later in your pregnancy. You'll benefit from fewer complications, and have a healthier baby after the birth.

Trying for a baby

Smoking can make it more difficult for you to conceive. It's a cause of reduced fertility in women and erectile dysfunction in men.

During your pregnancy

Smoking while pregnant is a cause of:

  • ectopic pregnancy
  • placental problems
  • stillbirth

It also increases the risk of miscarriage.

Effects on your baby

When you inhale tobacco smoke you're putting over 4,000 chemicals into your body including carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas). These affect the placenta, reducing bloodflow and depriving your baby of nutrients and oxygen.

This can lead to:

  • slower baby growth
  • premature birth
  • lower birth weight (and so increasing their risk of illness and death in infancy)
  • stillbirth
  • sudden and unexpected death in infancy (SUDI)
  • breathing problems throughout childhood
  • cleft lip/palate

It can also lead to an increased risk of miscarriage.

It's also important to minimise your exposure to second-hand smoke when pregnant as this is harmful to you and your baby. If you've been exposed to second-hand smoke during your pregnancy, your baby’s birthweight is likely to be less than it would otherwise have been. This is because the carbon monoxide in smoke stops your baby getting enough oxygen.

Carbon monoxide testing

Every pregnant woman in Scotland will have a carbon monoxide check at their first midwife appointment, in the same way that they have blood and urine tests.

If you have a high carbon monoxide reading or have stopped smoking in the previous 2 weeks, you'll be referred to your local NHS Stop Smoking Service. They'll offer free support on quitting smoking and reducing your exposure to second-hand smoke.

Quit Your Way Scotland

Contact Quit Your Way Scotland for tailored help and advice to quit smoking before or during your pregnancy.

Quit Your Way Scotland