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Substance Use: Pregnancy and Quitting Smoking

Benefits of Quitting

​Quitting smoking takes baby steps. It’s never too late to quit smoking when you’re pregnant. Quitting smoking before pregnancy is best for both you and your baby. However, quitting any time during your pregnancy can help improve your health; and what’s good for you is good for your baby. Keep in mind that the sooner you quit, the better. We know how hard it is to quit. Help is available.


You may feel a lot of pressure to quit smoking for your baby’s sake, but there are many benefits for you as well. While taking this journey to quit, think about the benefits of being smoke-free for life. Think about the rewards for you. Prepare for setbacks. Celebrate successes. Picture your life without tobacco addiction.

Benefits for You

When you quit smoking you will:

  • save money (Work out what you spend on tobacco and think of what else you could buy with that money.)
  • lower your blood pressure and heart rate
  • enjoy the improved taste and smell of food
  • reduce the risk of complications like miscarriage pre-term labour, and making less breastmilk
  • reduce your risk of cancer and improve your health
  • take back your life and break the cycle of addiction

Benefits for Your Baby

When you quit smoking when you’re pregnant:

  • you aren’t passing any more carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas), tar, and other harmful chemicals to your baby
  • ​your baby has a better chance of being born at a healthy weight. A smaller baby doesn’t mean an easier labour and birth. Smaller babies are more likely to have health issues and may have to stay in hospital longer.
  • your baby is more likely to be born full-term. Babies born too early often have trouble breathing at birth. They are more likely to have breathing problems (like asthma) as they grow up. They also have a higher risk of cerebral palsy, more vision and hearing disorders, and more problems with learning.
  • you reduce health risks to your child such as SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome/crib death), asthma, ear infections, behavioural problems, learning problems, and ADHD (Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder).

Which benefits of quitting mean the most to you?

You may want to write down the benefits of quitting that mean the most to you.

What will I notice when I quit?

No matter when you quit using tobacco, you’ll notice benefits right away. Within:

  • 20 minutes, your blood pressure drops to normal
  • 8 hours, oxygen level in your blood goes up to normal
  • 24 hours, your chance of having a heart attack goes down
  • 2 weeks to 3 months, your blood circulation improves
  • 1 year, your risk of heart disease is cut in half
  • 5 years, your risk of a stroke goes down
  • 10 years, your risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half
  • 15 years, your risk of heart disease is the same as a non-smokers

The good and not so good things about using and quitting tobacco

Think about the good and the not so good things to help you prepare to quit.

  • Make a list of the good things about using tobacco and the not so good things about using tobacco.
  • Now make a list of the good things about quitting and the not so good things about quitting.

Think about what you just wrote and how it can keep you on track with your decision to quit. How can you replace what you think are the good things about using tobacco with healthier choices?

For example, if you said it helps you reduce stress, think of how you can do this in a healthy way. The not-so-good things about using tobacco tell you the reason why you want to quit—your motivations to quit. Keep these ideas handy.

Make a list to remind you why it’s important to keep trying! The good things about quitting also tell you more reasons to try quitting. The not-so-good things tell you reasons why you don’t want to try quitting. How can you overcome these concerns you have? These are your road blocks from making a successful quit attempt. Write down what you learned about yourself.

Current as of: September 5, 2019

Author: Tobacco Reduction Program, Alberta Health Services