Smoking during and after pregnancy
One of the best things you and your partner can do is keep your baby’s environment smoke free – both now and after the birth.
If you, your pregnant partner or other people in your home smoke, it can cause serious harm to your unborn baby or child.
For example, smoking during pregnancy leads to an increased risk of babies being stillborn, having birth defects or having serious breathing problems or asthma.
Also, second-hand smoke or passive smoking is related to:
- higher chance of pregnancy loss
- premature birth and low birth weight of baby
- increased risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) after birth.
This is because the chemicals from cigarettes are passed onto the baby through second-hand smoke in the same way as if mum is smoking.
If you or your partner smoke, now is a great time to quit.
If you try to quit, it might make it easier for your partner to stop smoking too. If you smoke, it’s harder for your pregnant partner to stop smoking and more likely that she’ll go back to smoking after baby is born.
Why and how to quit smoking during pregnancy
If you can quit smoking, or at least stop smoking around your pregnant partner, your baby is:
- less likely to die from SUDI
- less likely to get middle ear infections or to have permanent hearing problems
- less likely to get breathing problems like asthma and pneumonia
- more likely to settle well and feed better.
Your health and your partner’s health will benefit as well.
Call Quitline on 137 848 for help with quitting or cutting back on how much you smoke.
If you’re not quite ready to quit, or someone else in your home smokes, here are other things you can do:
- Don’t smoke in front of your pregnant partner.
- Make sure no-one smokes around your pregnant partner.
- Make your home and car smoke free. Third-hand smoke hangs around for up to five hours in cars, furniture, carpets and clothing, so don’t smoke inside your home or in a car that your pregnant partner uses.
Smoke gets trapped on your hair, clothing and skin. If you’re smoking, cover your hair and clothes with something your partner won’t come into contact with. And you should also wash your hands and brush your teeth after each time you smoke.
Alcohol and other drugs during and after pregnancy
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause serious harm to unborn babies. Harms include miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects and development problems.
If your partner drinks alcohol, your unborn baby does too. Alcohol goes through the mother’s bloodstream and across the placenta to the baby. And if the mother is breastfeeding, alcohol passes through breastmilk and can have harmful effects on a baby’s development.
No alcohol is the safest choice during pregnancy.
It’s never safe to use other drugs, during pregnancy or at any other time.
It’s harder for your partner to stop drinking or using other drugs while she’s pregnant if you drink or use other drugs. This could be good motivation for you to stop or cut down too.
Risks with alcohol and other drugs after baby is born
Drinking alcohol or taking other drugs can affect your ability to connect with and care for your new baby. For example, if you’re affected by alcohol or other drugs, it might be harder to get up in the night to feed, change and settle your newborn.
Parents’ use of alcohol and drugs is also a risk factor for SUDI when the child sleeps in the same place as the parent.
And for some men, alcohol and other drugs can fuel arguments that might lead to aggression and family violence. This can have serious consequences for the health and wellbeing of mother and child.
If you’re getting upset or angry with your partner or other people, it’s a good idea to ask for help. You could talk to your GP or call MensLine on 1300 789 978. It’s a free and confidential service that can put you in touch with a counsellor.
Things you can do
- If you smoke, think about quitting for your own health and the health of your baby and partner. Get help by calling Quitline on 137 848, or talk with your GP about quitting.
- Read more about the effects of second-hand and third-hand smoke on children.
- Keep your baby’s environment free of smoke – both now and after the birth.
- If you drink alcohol or take other drugs, get help to stop or cut back by calling Lifeline on 131 114, or talk with your GP or a counsellor.
- If your partner smokes, drinks alcohol or takes drugs, ask her what sort of support she needs to quit and help her to get that support.