How Smoking Can Affect Your Baby

Blues Perspectives

| 4 min read

Being pregnant means you’re responsible for your own health and that of the child your carrying. If you smoke or vape, you should do everything you can to quit. Smoking or vaping can cause health problems for your child at birth and beyond. Ideally, you should quit smoking all together. If you’re undecided or can’t quit “cold turkey,” perhaps the following information and resources will help.
  1. Mothers who smoke are more likely to have low birth weight babies. According to March of Dimes, while some babies are simply born at a low birth weight, babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy experience a three and a half times greater likelihood of this happening.
  2. Low birth weight babies can have more health problems later in life. The March of Dimes also reports that babies who weigh less than five pounds, eight ounces at birth are more likely to have problems, such as being sick more often, trouble gaining weight and breathing issues. These issues can follow them into adulthood. Low birth weight babies are more likely to have high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes later in life.

Ways your body changes when you quit smoking

So, let’s look at all the positive changes from that can happen once you’ve come up with a plan to quit smoking. Many of the noticeable changes to your body will occur within the first three days after quitting. Day 1 – Within 20 minutes, your pulse and blood pressure will drop down to normal. Your muscles and brain will begin to receive the oxygen they need for proper function. Within a day of not smoking, you lower your chances of a heart attack, and the carbon monoxide level in your blood should drop back to normal. This is wonderful news for your health and the health of your baby. Day 2 – By day two, you will be able to smell and taste better as the nerve endings in your nose and mouth begin to heal. This is also the time you may start coughing regularly. That’s because your lungs are beginning to get rid of all the buildup in them. Most importantly, after the second day, the nicotine from smoking should be out of your system. Three months – At the three-month mark, you’ve made it through the hardest part of quitting. Yes, you’ll still have cravings, but has ways to distract you through the cravings. It’s impossible to know what might trigger them, but just remember your plan and think about how healthy your baby is because of your personal choice. One year – At the one-year mark, your risk of developing heart disease is cut in half. Now for the fun parts of quitting smoking. You’ve reached a significant milestone and it’s time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished. If you were a pack-a-day smoker, you’ve saved over $2,500 from no longer buying cigarettes – treat yourself to a salon appointment or use your savings to throw your happy, healthy baby a first birthday party. 5-10 years – As your five- and ten-year anniversaries of being a nonsmoker sail by, the chances that you’ll develop any of the diseases associated with smoking will decrease by roughly 50%. By the time your 15 smoke-free years roll around, the chances of you getting heart disease are the same as if you never smoked a cigarette a day in your life.

You can quit for good – stick with your plan

Every single one of these nonsmoking milestones will have positive effects on you and your child’s health and weight. Quitting smoking isn’t easy. But by setting realistic milestones, having a plan and remembering all the great reasons you decided to quit in the first place, you should have the confidence to follow through on your plan. No matter what, don’t give up! If you’re ready to quit smoking, we’re here to help. Call the Michigan Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They have special resources for pregnant women. You’ll receive nine counseling calls, one dedicated female quit coach and gift card rewards for keeping appointments. All Quitline counseling is confidential and has no cost to our members.

What to expect when you call

Your quit coach will help you do your best for yourself and your baby by:
  • Helping you enroll (it’s simple)
  • Signing you up to receive text messages if you want them
  • Working with you to choose a quit date and build a personal quit plan
  • Identifying your motivations and triggers
  • Planning for stresses and new triggers that may come with pregnancy
  • Explaining the effects of smoking on babies and children
For more information visit our Maternity Care page or read more about our Tobacco Quit Program.
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association