Smoking in Pregnancy

Born2QuitThe Smoking Matters Service works closely with the NHS Dumfries and Galloway Midwifery Service and has developed an opt-out referral system for all pregnant women in Dumfries and Galloway.

  • Anyone who is pregnant and is a smoker will automatically be referred on to the Smoking Matters Maternity Programme by the patients midwife.
  • One of our specialist advisers will then try and contact the patient to see if they would like to go ahead with a quit attempt.
  • Our advisers are very understanding and after discussing the effects of smoking during pregnancy, the mum-to-be will learn of the benefits of stopping smoking for both mum and baby, and of the support that is available to her if she would like to enter on to the programme and have a quit attempt.
  • The decision of whether to go ahead with a stop smoking attempt or to opt-out of the Smoking Matters Maternity Programme is left entirely to the patient.

What can happen if I continue to smoke when pregnant?

An expectant mother who smokes passes nicotine and carbon monoxide to the foetus via her bloodstream which means that basically the unborn child becomes a passive smoker and the oxygen reaching the baby is cut down.

Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to:

  • Miscarriage
  • Bleeding
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth weight
  • Cot death
  • Premature birth
  • Poor foetus growth
  • Early breathing problems
  • Vulnerability to infection/disease

The health of a pregnant smoker and the baby can be improved by stopping smoking and other people should be discouraged from smoking in the company of a pregnant woman. By stopping smoking the benefits to the baby’s health take effect immediately. Ideally a smoker should give up before they become pregnant but it is never too late - even in the latter stages of pregnancy the birthing process can benefit from stopping smoking.  Often women just 'go off' cigarettes when they are having a baby but for some it is a choice that has to be made and stopping will be more achievable if you opt-in to the programme. Stopping smoking will improve your fitness and health and so make it easier for you to 'carry' the baby and to cope better with the actual birth.

Many women go back to smoking after their baby is born but you can find support and help so that you don’t go back as you will already be feeling the benefits of having not smoked for some time. Always remember smoking around babies and young children can cause health problems through passive or second hand smoking so it is always best to try and continue not smoking for the sake of your own health and that of your family.

What does smoking do to my baby?

  • Babies born to smokers are twice as likely to suffer from bronchitis and/pneumonia in their early part of life.
  • They can suffer breathing disorders, coughing, phlegm and wheezing.
  • Severity of asthma
  • Could be responsible for up to 25% of cot deaths
  • Associated with decreased physical and poor intellectual development

Always remember that during pregnancy babies are depending on mum to provide the best possible conditions for growth and once born, babies and children rely on parents and carers to provide a safe environment. 

Tried before and haven't succeeded?

Don't worry if you have difficulty in stopping smoking.  We understand that its very hard to do and the pressures of pregnancy can make it even harder.  You can have as many quit attempts as you need to reach your goal of stopping and we will support you in every way possible.  Your midwife will give you the opportunity to enter the programme at every appointment and you can contact Smoking Matters direct on 0845 6026861 or email  to arrange appointment to meet with a specialist advisor.  

Call the NHS Smokeline on 0800 848484 between 8am and 10pm or visit