What you need to know

  • If you smoke, your unborn baby smokes too. This is dangerous for them while they’re in the womb and after they’re born.
  • If you quit, your health improves and you give your baby a healthier start in life. You’ll also save money.
  • There are lots of ways to quit smoking. Talk to your Plunket nurse, doctor, or QuitLine for more information.

Why quit smoking

Smoking harms you and your unborn baby

More than 70 of the chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause cancer, and every cigarette you smoke harms nearly every organ and system in your body.

If you smoke while you’re pregnant, your unborn baby smokes too. Your baby gets less oxygen in the womb because of the carbon monoxide you inhale, and their developing heart beats too fast. Their wee chest muscles don’t have enough oxygen to exercise properly and get ready for breathing after birth.

Smoking while pregnant can:

  • increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth
  • increase the risk of premature birth or a low birth weight. Having a smaller baby does not necessarily mean an easier birth. Low birth weight can lead to lots of problems, including your baby having trouble feeding and gaining weight, breathing problems, and an increased risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI, formerly known as SIDS). Babies with very low birth weight are at risk for long-term complications and disability, including cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, and developmental delay
  • lead to an increased risk of your baby developing pneumonia, asthma, glue ear, or other health problems.

Baby is affected by smoke whether it’s you or other members of the whānau smoking around them. It's best for you and baby to have a smokefree whare (home) and waka (car) too.

There’s a strong link between sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) and smoking during pregnancy and after birth. 

Quitting smoking will improve your health – and your baby’s health too

Within 24 hours of being smoke-free all the carbon monoxide has left your system, and you’ll likely be able to breathe easier.

After a year of being smoke-free, your risk of having a heart attack has halved.

Quitting smoking means you’re likely to live a healthier, longer life and you’ll be giving your baby a much healthier start.

You’ll save money

Smoking is expensive. Smoking a pack of 20 a day costs over $250 per week, or over $13,000 per year. Imagine what you and your whānau could do with that money!

Support to quit smoking

It’s never too late to quit for your baby, your whānau and for yourself. There are lots of ways to get support to quit, including access to nicotine patches, gum or lozenges to ease the cravings and help you get and stay smoke-free.

Your Plunket nurse will talk to you about smoking during your visits, and this could be a good time to reach out for support to quit smoking.

Talk to your Plunket nurse, health worker, call Quitline on 0800 778 778.


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Quitline offers free support online, by phone and text.