Health Information and Tools > Health A-Z >  Pregnancy and Smoking: Protect You and Your Baby
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Substance Use: Pregnancy, Smoking / Vaping

Protect You and Your Baby

If you smoke or vape, now is a great time to think about quitting! It is best for the health of you and your family to quit.

Tobacco smoke and nicotine

Tobacco smoke has more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals cause cancer. Tobacco smoke has carbon monoxide (a toxic gas), nicotine, and other harmful chemicals. If you smoke or use tobacco products when you’re pregnant, these chemicals go into your blood and are passed to your baby. This harms your health, your pregnancy, and your unborn baby.

Nicotine can cause changes to the brain as it develops, from conception (when pregnancy happens) up to around age 25. It can affect learning, attention, and memory. Nicotine can also lead to other health problems throughout life.

Second-hand smoke

The smoke that comes from the burning end of a cigarette is called second-hand smoke. It also has chemicals that can harm you and your family. For example, second-hand smoke puts your baby at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Third-hand smoke

Third-hand smoke is residue from tobacco smoke that gets in your hair, your clothes, and anything else it touches. Third-hand smoke stays around long after someone smokes. Babies have a higher risk of contact with third-hand smoke because they breathe faster, crawl on the carpet and floors, explore surfaces with their hands, and put things into their mouths.

Vaping products

Vaping products, like electronic cigarettes and JUUL, also have harmful chemicals. Some even have high amounts of nicotine. The vapour in the air from these products (called second-hand vapour) also has nicotine and other chemicals that may be harmful.

What you can do to protect you and your baby

The best way to protect you and your family from the chemicals in tobacco smoke and vapour is to quit using tobacco and vaping products.

If you’re not ready to quit, use these products less so they don’t cause as much harm. For example, smoke 1 or 2 less cigarettes a day and see how you feel.

Cutting back slowly can help you reach your goal to quit. Cutting back also lessens the amount of harmful chemicals that your unborn baby has contact with thorough second-hand and third-hand smoke and vapour.

If you are thinking of using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products (like a patch or gum) to help you stay away from tobacco or vaping products, talk to your doctor. They can suggest the safest product for you to use during your pregnancy.

You can also protect your baby by:

  • smoking and vaping outside instead of in your home (opening a window doesn't work to prevent harm)
  • putting on a smoking or vaping jacket when you (or other family members) go outside
  • taking off your smoking or vaping jacket and keeping it away from your baby
  • washing your hands to remove smoke or vapour residue before you hold your baby
  • telling your family and friends who smoke or vape that you and your baby need clean air
  • asking family members or visitors to smoke or vape outside
  • meeting friends or family who smoke or vape at smoke-free places
  • washing clothes, bedding, and toys that have had contact with smoke and vapour
  • painting walls, washing fabrics and surfaces, and replacing items that have had contact over a long time with second- or third-hand smoke

Please note that “tobacco” on this page does not include tobacco that is used for traditional and sacred reasons.

Current as of: August 29, 2019

Author: Tobacco Reduction Program, Alberta Health Services