Smoking during and after pregnancy
One of the best things you and your partner can do is keep your baby’s environment smoke free – both now and after the birth.
If you, your pregnant partner or other people in your home smoke, it can cause serious harm to your unborn baby or child.
For example, smoking during pregnancy leads to an increased risk of babies being stillborn, having birth defects or having serious breathing problems or asthma.
Also, second-hand or ‘passive’ smoke is related to:
- higher chance of pregnancy loss
- premature birth and low birth weight of baby
- increased risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) after birth.
This is because the chemicals from cigarettes are passed onto the baby through second-hand smoke in the same way as if mum is smoking.
If you or your partner smoke, now is a great time to quit.
If you try to quit, it might make it easier for your partner to stop smoking too. If you smoke, it’s harder for your pregnant partner to stop smoking and more likely that she’ll go back to smoking after baby is born.
Benefits of quitting smoking
If you can quit smoking, or at least stop smoking around your pregnant partner, your baby is:
- less likely to die from SUDI
- less likely to get middle ear infections or to have permanent hearing problems
- less likely to get breathing problems like asthma and pneumonia
- more likely to settle well and feed better.
Your health and your partner’s health will benefit as well.
What you can do to quit
Call Quitline on 137 848 for help with quitting or cutting back on how much you smoke.
If you’re not quite ready to quit, or someone else in your home smokes, here are some things you can do:
- Don’t smoke in front of your pregnant partner.
- Make sure no-one smokes around your pregnant partner.
- Make your home and car smoke free. Third-hand smoke hangs around for up to five hours in cars, furniture, carpets and clothing, so don’t smoke inside your home or in a car that your pregnant partner uses.
Alcohol and other drugs
Alcohol can cause serious harm to unborn babies including miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects and development problems. If your partner drinks alcohol, your unborn baby does too. Alcohol goes through the mother’s bloodstream and across the placenta to the baby.
Because there isn’t enough evidence to say that there’s a ‘safe’ level of alcohol during pregnancy, no alcohol is the safest choice.
It’s harder for your partner to stop drinking or using other drugs while she’s pregnant if you drink or use other drugs. This could be good motivation for you to stop or cut down too.
Other risks with alcohol and other drugs
Drinking alcohol or taking other drugs can get in the way of you being the parent you’d like to be. It can also affect your ability to care for your child. This is a big issue with newborns, who wake often during the night for feeding, changing and settling.
Parents’ use of alcohol and drugs is also a risk factor for SUDI when the child sleeps in the same place as the parent.
For some men, alcohol and other drugs can fuel arguments that might lead to aggression and violence. This can have serious consequences for the health and wellbeing of mother and child.
Things you can do
- If you smoke, think about quitting for your own health and the health of your baby and partner. Get help to quit or cut back by calling Quitline on 137 848, or talk with your GP or health professional about quitting.
- Read more about the effects of second-hand smoke on your child.
- Keep your baby’s environment free of smoke – both now and after the birth.
- If you drink alcohol or take other drugs, get help to stop or cut back by calling Lifeline on 131 114, or talk with your GP or a counsellor.
- If your partner smokes, drinks alcohol or takes drugs, ask her what sort of support she needs to quit and help her to get that support.