Quitting smoking of all kinds – conventional cigarettes or even e-cigarettes – is the best medical advice for pregnant women, experts say. Advertising Policy Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy It’s best to quit smoking … Read More
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It’s best to quit smoking as soon as you decide to conceive, says obstetrician and gynecologist Rebecca Starck, MD.
“Smoking is not safe in pregnancy, and cigarettes clearly have carcinogens that have been proven unhealthy for the baby and the mother,” she says. “So you should try to quit before even getting pregnant.”
When it comes to e-cigarettes and their safety for pregnant women, she says there is no way to assure that e-cigarettes do not harm a fetus. However, no good, randomized studies with pregnant women have been conducted — primarily because researchers can’t find enough women who are willing to subject their fetuses to the potential dangers.
So, at this time, there is not enough reliable medical data to state that smoking e-cigarettes is safe for pregnant women.
What about nicotine-free e-cigarettes?
Some e-cigarettes do not contain nicotine, one of the primary carcinogens in regular cigarettes that is also highly addictive. The user enjoys the experience of smoking, but inhales a nicotine-free vapor, not smoke.
“Often people are not only addicted to the nicotine, but they’re addicted to the habit of holding a cigarette, and that alone can give them some relaxation,” Dr. Starck says.
However, she says that if you smoke and find comfort in holding the cigarette and are trying to quit, you should use nicotine-free e-cigarettes only as part of your effort to become a non-smoker.
“If you’re not able to quit cold turkey, this could serve as a transition step that hopefully will allow you to quit altogether before or during your pregnancy and minimize the exposure to the baby,” she explains.
Some strategies for quitting smoking
According to Dr. Starck, when you’re contemplating pregnancy or when you actually become pregnant, it’s usually an ideal time to stop smoking, because you have greater motivation to quit.
Here are some tips from Dr. Starck to help you quit:
Pick a specific date to absolutely stop smoking, and then keep the list of reasons and that date where you can see it every day to keep you motivated and on target.
Enlist non-smoking family members and friends as a support group; let them know your quit date so they can encourage you along your journey to stop smoking.
Change your daily routine. For example, if you smoke at mealtime, change the time you smoke.
Change your brand of cigarette to one you don’t like to help you cut back.
Try working with a hypnotherapist who can help you quit.
Don’t light up, even if you think you can stop at one. Once you quit, you cannot ever “just have one.” As soon as you have one, Dr. Starck says, the next thing you know, you’ll be buying another pack.
What about nicotine supplements?
As far as using nicotine supplementation of any kind, Dr. Starck says many people do have success using supplements during a short time frame.
“We feel it’s better to use supplements in the non-pregnant state, because we don’t want you to have any nicotine intake during pregnancy,” she says. “But if you are preparing for pregnancy, you can use nicotine gum or patches. If the habit of holding the cigarette is something you are also addicted to, then the e-cigarette could be an option as part of your plan to quit.”