Should you need urgent health advice please contact your GP or call NHS 111. In an emergency please visit A&E or call 999

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The health benefits of giving up smoking begin the moment you stop and continue to increase the longer you have quit. It can be difficult to stop smoking, but it ‘s never to late to stop.

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, 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.

Passive smoking

Second-hand smoke is dangerous, especially for children. The best way to protect loved ones is to quit smoking. At the very least, make sure you have a smoke free home and car.

When you smoke a cigarette (or roll-up, pipe or cigar), most of the smoke doesn’t go into your lungs, it goes into the air around you where anyone nearby can breathe it in. Second-hand smoke is the smoke that you exhale plus the “side stream” smoke created by the lit end of your cigarette. When friends and family breathe in your second-hand smoke – what we call passive smoking – it isn’t just unpleasant for them, it can damage their health too.

People who breathe in second-hand smoke regularly are more likely to get the same diseases as smokers, including lung cancer and heart disease. And children who live in a smoky house are at higher risk of breathing problems, asthma and allergies.

To protect children, smoking in cars and other vehicles carrying children was banned in 2015. It is against the law to smoke in a private vehicle if there’s a young person under 18 present.

NHS Smoke free helpline

The NHS Smoke free 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.

You can contact the NHS Smoke free helpline: 0300 123 1044. Open: 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.

Hertfordshire Stop Smoking Service

There are over 300 local stop smoking services in Hertfordshire offering non-judgemental support, either one-to-one or for groups in the workplace. Visit our Stop Smoking Website or contact us for support by calling: 0800 389 3998, by texting SMOKEFREE to 80818 or emailing:

ChatHealth Logo

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-5 years called ChatHealth. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a health visitor within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the service reopens.

  • ChatHealth messaging service:


    07480 635164
  • Family Centre Service (Health Visiting and Family Support):


    0300 123 7572

Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.

This page was last reviewed on 16-02-2023

This page will be next reviewed on 16-02-2026