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Women's Health

Mercy Women's Care at St. Anne
3404 W. Sylvania Avenue
Toledo, OH 43623

Mercy Women's Care at St. Charles
Navarre Medical Plaza
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Oregon, OH 43616

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Toledo, OH 43608

First Trimester (Months 1-3): Time to Quit Smoking

separator You just found out you're pregnant. You want to do everything you can to give your baby the best chance to be healthy. There's one problem: you smoke.

The Benefits of Quitting
You may already know how your baby will benefit if you quit smoking now:

  • The oxygen and food supply to the baby will increase
  • Your chance of miscarriage or stillbirth may be lowered
  • Your baby is more likely to be born healthy
  • The risk of death in infancy, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is decreased.

Quitting is good for you too, but you already know that.

A Powerful Motivator
Being pregnant can be a powerful motivator for quitting smoking. But that doesn't mean it's easy. To be successful at quitting, you'll need a plan of action.

Identify your reasons for quitting. "Having a healthy baby" is probably the first reason on your list. Do you have other reasons? Have loved ones been urging you to quit? Does it bother you to have to take smoke breaks at work? Do you worry about the damage smoking may be causing to your health?

Whatever your reasons are, write them down and look at them each day to keep yourself motivated.

Ask your doctor for help and advice. Studies have shown that patients whose physicians give them advice about quitting smoking have a higher success rate than those who quit without their doctor's help. You and your doctor can explore together the different methods of quitting. Your doctor may have helped other patients to quit, and his or her experience can be invaluable to you. You may also want to ask a nurse practitioner for advice about quitting. These professionals can have a positive impact on your success.

Get support from the people around you, especially your partner. Your partner might be especially motivated to help you quit, so talk about ways you can deal with this together. If your partner smokes, maybe he'd be willing to try to quit too. Quitting together would be a great way to support each other.

Get plenty of exercise. If your doctor has told you it's safe to exercise, be sure to do so. Exercise is one way to use up the nervous energy you may feel after you've quit smoking.

If You Can't Quit, Cut Back
Try to cut back to five cigarettes or fewer per day. This can be difficult too, but not as difficult as quitting. Smoking only five a day will greatly improve your chances of having a healthy baby.

Smoke is Harmful to Babies and Children
Smoke irritates the lungs of babies and children. If you've smoked for a long time, your lungs may be used to it, so it's hard for you to know how it feels. Fumes from cigarettes paralyze the lining of fine hairs in the nose, throat and lungs. These hairs sweep foreign particles out of the chest and help keep lungs clear.

Being exposed to smoke increases a baby's chances of developing respiratory problems such as:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic cough
  • Chest infections

Quitting smoking now is healthy for your unborn child, but it's also something you can do to protect your child's health for years to come.

K Reynolds, C Lees, G McCartan, Pregnancy and Birth: Your Questions Answered. DK Publishing, 1997; A Eisenberg, What to Expect when You're Expecting, 1996.
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