UC San Diego Health
menu icon
search iconSearch
Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us

Quitting Smoking During Pregnancy

Woman crushing pack of cigarettes in hand.

You may have just learned you are pregnant, or you may be months along. Either way, it’s not too late to make a change. Every cigarette you don’t smoke is a benefit to you and your baby. Deciding not to smoke can be a tough choice, but you canchange. Even if you’ve tried before, don’t give up. Many smokers try quitting several times before they succeed.

Babies born to women who smoke

Problems of babies born to women who smoke include:

  • May be smaller than normal at birth or may be born early (premature or preterm)

  • Are more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

  • May be cranky, restless, and get sick more often

  • Are more likely to have learning and behavioral problems as they develop 

  • Are more likely to have childhood obesity

  • Are more likely to have certain neurologic disorders, diabetes ,and asthma

Pick a way to quit

You can stop smoking in either of the ways listed below:

  • Cold turkey. Today you smoke, tomorrow you don’t. This is rough at first. But changes take place quickly and withdrawal may be shorter.

  • Tapering off. Over time, reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. To do so, increase the amount of time between each smoke. Try not to inhale.

Set a quit date

No matter which method you choose, pick a date to quit smoking entirely:

  • Choose a date.

  • After picking the day, mark it in bold letters on a calendar.

Your quit list

Why do I want to quit? What are my triggers for wanting to smoke?

Image

Start by giving up cigarettes at the times you least need them. Write down a few more ideas. These might include writing down your triggers and avoiding them, joining a support group, keeping busy by finding new things to do, and rewarding yourself for your success.  

Set limits

Whether you decide to quit cold turkey or to taper off, setting limits can help you quit:

  • Limit where you smoke. Pick 1 room or a porch, and smoke only in that place.

  • Hang a list of “quit benefits” in the spot where you smoke. Put 1 on the refrigerator and 1 on your car dashboard.

  • Join a stop-smoking group.

For more information

Here are some resources to help you quit smoking:

Online Medical Reviewer: Daniel N Sacks MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather Trevino
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2020
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.