Smoking or vaping during pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy

Smoking in pregnancy is one of the largest avoidable causes of stillbirth and serious issues in pregnancy. Every puff of a cigarette has an immediate effect on the baby. Carbon monoxide from smoking replaces some of the oxygen in your blood, which then reduces the amount of oxygen going to the baby through the umbilical cord. Smoking also affects how the placenta is formed, reducing nutrients passed onto your baby.

Smoking in pregnancy is linked with many complications such as an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, pre-term birth, low birth weight, and abnormalities in the baby such as a cleft palate. Babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy or are exposed to second hand smoke are also at greater risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI), impaired or slow growth and development, and diseases later in life such as breathing problems, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. 

While quitting at any time in pregnancy gives your baby a better chance of health, quitting early on in pregnancy is best. Quitting within the first three months of pregnancy reduces the risk of complications such as preterm birth, low birth weight and decreases the risk of stillbirth. 

Vaping during pregnancy 

Vapes or e-cigarettes are popular within Australia, especially amongst young people. Many people believe that vaping is less of a risk when compared to smoking cigarettes. Vaping during pregnancy isn’t safe. While vaping does not have the same harmful carbon monoxide effects as smoking, nicotine and the hazardous chemicals in e-cigarettes can still cause harm to yourself and your baby. 

Nicotine in vapes and e-cigarettes is still passed to your baby through the umbilical cord and placenta in the same way as when using tobacco products. You can’t tell for sure whether your e-cigarette contains nicotine or how much nicotine it contains. Exposure to nicotine can harm your baby’s developing brain.

The aerosol that is breathed out when using vapes and e-cigarettes contains harmful chemicals and substances such as trace metals and formaldehyde which are harmful to your baby. 

Find out more about vaping and your health.

If you are pregnant and you vape, quitting is the best way to give your baby a healthy start.

Get help to quit during pregnancy

Your midwife, General Practitioner (GP) or obstetrician can help if you are thinking about quitting smoking or vaping.

The most common counselling service for pregnant women is Quitline, which is staffed by specially trained counsellors who will support you in trying to quit without making you feel guilty. Contact your local Quitline for free on 13 78 48 or go to Quitline

Aboriginal Quitline is a culturally safe service run by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people and offers non-judgemental and empowering support to Aboriginal people who want to quit smoking or using e-cigarettes. Call 13 78 48 and ask to speak to an Aboriginal counsellor when you call or go to Aboriginal Quitline.

More information

Page last updated on: 28 Jun 2023