As part of your routine antenatal care, you will be asked by your midwife or midwifery health trainer to take a carbon monoxide screen. This is a quick and simple breath screen which will tell you and your midwife how much carbon monoxide is in your body.

How you could be exposed to carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas which you can’t taste, smell or see, it reduces the oxygen in your bloodstream which is dangerous to you and your unborn baby. When you are pregnant, your baby’s nutrients and oxygen come via the placenta and umbilical cord.

You can be exposed to carbon monoxide from a variety of methods:

  • Cigarette smoke

  • Faulty or poorly ventilated cooking or heating appliances (including gas boilers, gas fires, coal, wood and paraffin appliances)
  • Faulty car exhaust

This is why it is so important you take the carbon monoxide screen so we can reduce yours and your baby’s risk of carbon monoxide exposure.

Smoking when you are pregnant

Carbon monoxide is one of more than 4,000 chemicals and toxins in tobacco smoke. If you smoke when you are pregnant this means that your baby is sharing all the chemicals from the smoke that you inhale. It also means that if other people around you smoke your baby will be affected by any secondhand smoke that you breathe in.

Because exposure to carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen in your body, this means that your baby will also get less oxygen. Oxygen is vital for your baby’s healthy growth and development. One of the things that can happen when you smoke is that your baby’s tiny heart has to beat faster and harder which is harmful.

Stopping smoking before or during pregnancy

If you or people around you smoke the best thing for your baby is to stop smoking. By doing this you will give your baby the best start in life and you will also:

  • Reduce the risks of miscarriage or still birth
  • Reduce the risk of your baby being underdeveloped or born prematurely
  • Reduce the risk of your child suffering from asthma and other conditions such as glue ear, both when a baby and in their childhood.
Once your baby is born

Although it may be very tempting to start smoking again after your baby is born, staying smokefree is very important for you and your baby. By staying smokefree your baby may have:

  • Fewer coughs, colds and ear infections
  • Better lung development
  • Less risk of developing asthma
  • A better start for healthier brain development
  • Less risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome.
Electronic cigarettes

Whilst these devices are available in many places there are some things to remember:

  • They are not regulated as medicines or medical devices so you cannot be sure of their ingredients or how much nicotine they contain regardless of what it says on the label. This also means that we don’t know how long term use affects the body or how safe they actually are
  • The vapour that electronic cigarettes produce may reduce the oxygen levels in your body
  • There is a potential risk of fire during recharging of electronic cigarettes: some lower quality devices have overheated and exploded whilst the battery has been on charge causing fires.
Free help to stop smoking

There is free support available for you and your family to help you stop smoking. If you need it, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is also available for you free to help you stop and stay stopped. We know that using NRT whilst pregnant is safer than smoking both for you and your baby. You can contact your local Stop Smoking Service yourself or ask your midwife to do this for you.

How to contact the stop smoking services

Blackpool Stop Smoking Service 01253 462463


We are also on Twitter @BplStopSmoking and Facebook (search Blackpool Stop Smoking).