The more you know about your pregnancy and your options, the more you are likely to feel in control.The information given here is based on The Pregnancy Book, which your midwife should give you at your first appointment.
Before you are pregnant
Your pregnancy and labour
You and your baby
General pregnancy topics
Healthy Start Vouchers
If you’re pregnant or have children under the age of 4 you can get free vouchers or payments every 4 weeks to spend on:
- cow’s milk
- fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
- infant formula milk
- fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
You can also get free Healthy Start vitamins
Smoking and your unborn baby
Protecting your baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life. It can be difficult to stop smoking, but it's never too late to quit.
Every cigarette you smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, so smoking when you are pregnant harms your unborn baby. Cigarettes can restrict the essential oxygen supply to your baby. As a result, their heart must beat harder every time you smoke.
Benefits of stopping smoking in pregnancy
Stopping smoking will help both you and your baby immediately. Harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide, and other damaging chemicals will clear from your body. When you stop smoking:
- you will reduce the risk of complications in pregnancy and birth
- you are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby
- you will reduce the risk of stillbirth
- your baby is less likely to be born too early and have to face the breathing, feeding and health problems that often go with being premature
- your baby is less likely to be born with a low birth weight. Babies of smokers are, on average, 200g (about 8oz) lighter than other babies, which can cause problems during and after labour. For example, they are more likely to have problems keeping warm and are more likely to get infections
- you will reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as "cot death".
Stopping smoking now will also help your baby later in life. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from asthma and other serious illnesses that may need hospital treatment.
The sooner you stop smoking, the better. But even if you stop in the last few weeks of your pregnancy this will benefit you and your baby.
NHS Smokefree helpline
The NHS Smokefree helpline offers free help, support and advice on stopping smoking and can give you details of local support services.
You can also sign up to receive ongoing advice and support at a time that suits you.
NHS Smokefree helpline: 0300 123 1044
9am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.