ALL
Health Information and Tools > Health A-Z >  Quitting Smoking: Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Quitting Smoking

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Quitting smoking, or quitting any tobacco or vaping product use, during pregnancy is safe. You may have heard some people say that smoking calms them down and reduces their stress. But it does the opposite to your body. Nicotine (the addictive drug in tobacco and some vaping products) makes your heart rate and blood pressure go up. All tobacco products and vaping products contain harmful chemicals that can lead to health problems for you, your pregnancy, and your baby. The best thing you can do for your health and the health of your baby is quit using tobacco and vaping products. Find support and services to help you quit.

Benefits for you

You may feel a lot of pressure to quit smoking, vaping, or using other tobacco products for your baby’s health. But there are many benefits for you alone that last long after you have had your baby or are done breastfeeding.

Your family will benefit from your decision too.

When you quit smoking, you will:

  • save money
  • lower your blood pressure and heart rate
  • enjoy better taste and smell of food
  • reduce the risk of miscarriage and preterm labour
  • help your breastmilk supply
  • reduce your risk of cancer and many other serious health problems
  • break the cycle of addiction and feel more control over your life
  • be a healthy role model

You may also see many of these benefits when you quit vaping nicotine or quit using other tobacco products.

Fear of weight gain

How you feel about yourself is often affected by how you see your weight and physical appearance. Weight gain is common during pregnancy. Quitting smoking is often associated with weight gain. For these reasons, you might be afraid to quit smoking now because you don’t want to gain any extra weight. Continuing to smoke though is much worse for your health than gaining a small amount of weight. For most people who quit smoking the weight gain is manageable and often temporary.

Focus on improving your overall health and well-being and not only on managing your weight. By quitting smoking, you will improve how you feel about yourself, like noticing that your teeth are not yellowing, your hair and clothes smell better, and knowing your skin is less likely to wrinkle as you get older.

When you are pregnant, a healthy weight gain tells us that your baby is growing. Gaining a healthy amount of weight also helps with your breastmilk supply. Your healthcare provider will tell you how much weight to gain during your pregnancy. They can also help you manage your weight if you gain more than is recommended for you and your baby.

Benefits for your baby

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, there’s no safe amount of tobacco or nicotine vaping product use. Nicotine and other harmful chemicals reach your baby through the placenta. After birth, it reaches them through your breastmilk.

It’s never too late to quit. The benefits of quitting start right away. When you quit smoking or vaping, consider making your home and car clean air spaces. Move all smoking and vaping product use outside and away from air intakes.

When you stop smoking and avoid second hand smoke during pregnancy, it means:

  • Your baby has a better chance of being ​born at a healthy weight. A smaller baby does not mean an easier labour and birth. Smaller babies are more likely to have health issues and may have to stay in the hospital for longer.

When you stop using tobacco and nicotine vaping products during pregnancy and avoid second hand smoke and vapour, it means:

  • Your baby is more likely to be born full-term. Babies born too early often have trouble breathing at birth.
  • Your baby’s brain is more able to grow healthy.

Breastfeeding

When you smoke or vape nicotine products, nicotine and harmful chemicals can reach your baby through your breastmilk. The best thing you can do for your health and the health of your baby is to quit smoking or using tobacco products as soon as possible. First try to quit without using any quit smoking medicine like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). If that doesn’t work, ask your doctor about quitting medicine that is okay to take during pregnancy.

If you use tobacco products or nicotine vaping products, or if your doctor has recommended you take NRT, breastfeeding is still the best choice. Use the tobacco or nicotine vaping product or fast-acting NRT right after your baby is done feeding. This will give your body time to remove most of the nicotine from your breastmilk before your baby’s next feeding. It will also help your baby settle more easily after feeding. When your baby constantly breastfeeds for hours at a time (often in the evening and called cluster feeding), do your best to skip tobacco or nicotine product use. Never skip a feeding.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about feeding your baby.

Nicotine recovery when you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Tobacco has a very strong, addictive drug in it called nicotine. When you use tobacco products, your body becomes used to the effects of nicotine. When you stop getting nicotine because you cut back or quit smoking or vaping, your body and brain need time to adjust to the change. This adjustment is called nicotine recovery.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, first try to quit with the support of a healthcare counsellor, quitting tobacco program, online support, and advice from family and friends.

Find support and services to help you quit. First, try to manage your nicotine recovery symptoms without stop smoking medicines like over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). If that is too hard to do, talk with your healthcare provider (doctor or pharmacist) about wanting to use stop smoking medicine. They will help you decide what quitting medicine option may work best during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Prevent poisoning

Tobacco and nicotine products like cigarettes, vapes, or NRTs have enough nicotine in them to make a child or animal sick. They can even cause death from poisoning.

Children and pets may swallow, inhale, or absorb (through their skin) nicotine from these products. Keep nicotine products including NRTs out of reach and hidden from view. Make sure others​ keep these products away from your children and pets, too.

Throw products away safely so that your children or pets can’t see them or get to them.

For poisoning and drug information, call the Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS) at 1-800-332-1414.

Current as of: March 2, 2022

Author: Tobacco, Vaping and Cannabis Program, Alberta Health Services