We all know the dangers of smoking: it kills around 15 000 Australians per year and is a leading cause of cancer, heart disease, stroke and emphysema. And yet there are around 2.8 million Australians who still smoke.
The Australian Government is committed to helping Australians quit smoking - and they're now focussing on pregnant women, those trying to conceive, and their partners. Here's why:
Smoking and pregnancy: what are the facts?
In 2009 one in seven Australian women smoked during pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy can have severe health impacts. It can increase the rate of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, premature labour, low birth weight and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). There is no safe level of smoking in pregnancy.
Smoking and pregnancy: the myths
"Quitting cold turkey will cause stress to me and my baby": The best thing that you can do for your baby is quit. Every cigarette you smoke is a harsh chemical cocktail that deprives your baby of nutrients and cuts down the amount of oxygen and good that reaches your baby. Speak to your doctor, midwife or call the Quitline (13 78 48) for advice on quitting and dealing with stress.
"There's nothing wrong with having a low-weight baby, it just means a quicker and easier birth": there is no evidence that suggests that this is the case. On the contrary, low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of illness and complications.
"I'm already pregnant. There's no point in quitting now": planning to quit as early as possible, ideally while you're still trying to conceive, is optimal - but every cigarette you DON'T smoke is doing you, and your baby, good.
Tips to help you quit
Seek support and find out what options you have to quit successfully. Call the Quitline on 13 78 48 or speak to your doctor to plan a quitting strategy together. There's no one best way to quit - just the way that works for you.
Visit the Quitnow website and remember the four Ds:
- Delay: delay the urge to smoke for a few minutes, and the urge will pass
- Deep breathe: breathing slowly and deeply can help
- Do something else: ring a friend, go for a walk, read a book
- Drink water: take time out and sip it nice and slowly.
Dads-to-be should quit too
Partners can be the best influence in helping you quit. If your partner smokes it can make it harder for you to give up - so why not quit together. Remember, passive smoking is dangerous - and your baby can be exposed to second-hand smoke even while in the womb. Second-hand smoke still contains the same range of tobacco smoke toxins - they're just at lower levels. However, they're still dangerous enough to damage the tissues of your unborn baby's growing brain and lungs.
Remember, there's no safe level of smoking. For your sake, and your baby's sake quit now. For more information and support on ways to quit call the Quitline 13 7848, visit the website www.quitnow.gov.au, or call your doctor or healthcare professional.
To learn more, watch this video created by The National Tobacco Campaign which aims to educated and inform pregnant women and their partners about the benefits of quitting smoking when pregnant.
This article was written for Birth from information supplied by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.
Read more about smoking and pregnancy here
Last revised: Tuesday, 10 September 2013
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.