Tobacco and pregnancy

Tobak och graviditet - engelskaThe content concerns Jönköpings län

The foetus is exposed to harmful substances if you smoke or use snus during pregnancy. This poses a risk to the foetus and the pregnancy. As soon as you stop consuming tobacco, the risk goes down. Anyone can give up tobacco. But you can get help if it’s hard. Avoid nicotine plasters, nicotine gum and e-cigarettes.

You should give up tobacco if you want to become pregnant or realise that you are pregnant. Don’t smoke, use snus or chew tobacco for the rest of the pregnancy. The less tobacco that the foetus inside you is exposed to, the better.

What can I do on my own? - Vad kan jag göra själv?

Anyone can give up smoking or snus. There are different methods to make it easier. The most important thing is that you want to quit. Remember that the nicotine craving usually only lasts for a few minutes.

It is usually easier to quit smoking and using snus during a pregnancy. You can be motivated by keeping the baby as healthy as possible. The pregnancy may also cause you to feel nauseous or disgusted by tobacco.

What happens in the body? - Vad händer i kroppen?

Tobacco is a kind of drug that contains harmful substances.

Most of the substances in tobacco passes to the foetus. The foetus may even get a larger dose than you of certain substances, such as carbon monoxide and nicotine. Some of the substances in tobacco increase the risk of complications during the pregnancy.

Carbon monoxide enters the foetus’ bloodstream

The cigarette smoke contains the toxic gas carbon monoxide. It causes you not to take up oxygen from the blood as well as you should. Carbon monoxide gets into both your own and the foetus’ blood if you smoke while pregnant.  The foetus’ blood takes up twice as much carbon monoxide as yours. The toxin also stays longer in the foetus.

The nicotine affects the size of the foetus

Nicotine is present in all tobacco. The nicotine decreases the blood flow to the uterus and placenta. This means the foetus receives less oxygen and nutrition. The foetus grows slower and weighs less than it should at birth. This is called stunted growth.

When you use snus, you are exposed to just as much nicotine as when you smoke, or more.

Water pipes and e-cigarettes - Vattenpipa och e-cigaretter

Water pipe smoke contains nicotine, carbon monoxide and other toxins. You should not smoke a water pipe while pregnant.

E-cigarettes can be used without nicotine. But there are no studies on how the other substances in the e-cigarette affect the foetus. You should therefore avoid e-cigarettes during pregnancy. The e-cigarette can also be called an electronic cigarette. Smoking e-cigarettes is also called vaping.

Complications - Komplikationer

In addition to the foetus growing poorly, there is also a greater risk of other complications if you smoke while pregnant:

  • You may go into early labour.
  • the placenta may detach too early.
  • you have an increased risk of miscarriage or foetal death
  • the child is at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

There aren’t many studies on using snus during pregnancy. But it has been established that if you use snus while pregnant, the risk of stunted growth increases. There is also an increased risk of foetal death.

Important to think ahead - Viktigast att tänka framåt

If you have been consuming tobacco during your pregnancy, you may be feeling bad about it. Perhaps you didn’t know you were pregnant. Perhaps you couldn’t help yourself. It is common to feel shame and guilt about this.

When that happens, it is important to think ahead. Focus on what you can do to avoid exposing the foetus to more tobacco.

When should I seek help? - När ska jag söka vård?

Contact the maternity clinic if you smoke or use snus and feel unable to quit on your own. They can give you advice on how to quit tobacco.

You can also contact a health centre. They have district nurses on staff with specialist training in how to give up tobacco.

Call 1177 if you need help finding a clinic.

Treatment - Behandling

There are no drugs approved for treatment of nicotine withdrawal during pregnancy.

You should speak to your doctor if you need to use nicotine drugs during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Many who quit smoking use nicotine gum or nicotine patches. These lessen the craving. But nicotine gum and nicotine patches are harmful to the foetus. Patches are more dangerous than gum.

Quit line

You can call the Swedish Tobacco Quit Line for help. The number is 020-84 00 00. Calling the quit line is free of charge. 

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