What role does vitamin C supplementation play?

A 2014 study suggests that supplemental vitamin C taken by women smokers during pregnancy might help reduce some of the negative effects on newborn pulmonary function. However, these positive effects were small and found only for the first year of life. Quitting smoking should be the goal for every pregnant smoker.

What's the safest way to quit smoking during pregnancy?

The safest way to quit smoking during pregnancy is without the aid of medication. Start by consulting your health care provider for advice or seeking counseling. Then consider these practical tips:

  • List the reasons you want to quit, such as protecting your baby's health.
  • Get rid of all smoking materials.
  • Avoid situations that make you want to smoke.
  • Spend time with people who don't smoke, and visit places where smoking isn't allowed.
  • Wait out cravings by running an errand or eating a healthy snack.
  • With your health care provider's OK, use physical activity to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Make sure you have someone you can talk to for support.
  • Set a goal and create a reward for meeting it. For instance, if you quit for a certain length of time, use what you would have spent on cigarettes to buy something for the baby.

Is it safe to use stop-smoking products during pregnancy?

If you're still having trouble quitting smoking, ask your health care provider about nicotine replacement products — such as a nicotine patch or inhaler, or nicotine gum, lozenges or nasal spray. Using any of these products will spare your baby exposure to many of the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. Counseling plus nicotine replacement therapy is the most effective way to quit.

Many nicotine replacement products are available over-the-counter. If you choose to use the nicotine patch, minimize your baby's exposure to nicotine by removing the patch while you sleep. As your cravings and withdrawal symptoms fade, work with your health care provider to gradually reduce the nicotine replacement over time.

If you'd rather use a non-nicotine medication to stop smoking during pregnancy, the antidepressant bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin) might be an option. Work with your health care provider to weigh the risks and benefits.

Is postpartum relapse common?

Adjusting to life with a newborn can be stressful. Many women who quit smoking during pregnancy relapse shortly after giving birth. If you quit smoking during pregnancy, recognize the risk of relapse after your baby is born and seek counseling for support.

If you smoke after giving birth, don't smoke near your baby or while you breast-feed. If you smoke and breast-feed your baby, he or she will be exposed to many harmful chemicals through your breast milk. Cigarette smoking might also decrease your milk production. Also, remember that breathing secondhand smoke poses health risks for a newborn, including an increased risk of asthma and SIDS.

Stopping smoking is rarely easy. It might take more than one try to quit for good. Remember, however, it can be done — and your entire family will reap the benefits.

March 19, 2015 See more In-depth