Vaping While Pregnant: Understanding the Risks
Whether you’re an expectant mother or just want to know more about vaping during pregnancy, this article is going to explore everything you need to know about the potential risks.
Understanding Vaping and Pregnancy
In line with NHS advice, it is not recommended that pregnant women smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes.6
Although vaping is a less harmful alternative to continued smoking, there are still certain risks associated with vaping while pregnant.
The long-term effects of vaping when pregnant is a relatively new topic but research does suggest that vapes are less risky than smoking cigarettes.1 Unlike cigarettes, vapes deliver nicotine through vapour instead of smoke and current NHS evidence shows that nicotine by itself is relatively harmless.1
Tar and carbon monoxide are the two main toxins found in cigarette smoke - with carbon monoxide being particularly harmful to developing babies.1
Regarding vapes, the NHS states that; “The vapour from an e-cigarette does contain some of the potentially harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke, but at much lower levels.”1
As an alternative to continued smoking, vaping is still considered less harmful than smoking cigarettes.1
There are financial incentives to assist pregnant women stop smoking. Pregnant women can receive up to £400 as well as behavioural support through the government ‘Swap to Stop’ scheme.3
Wondering what happens when making the switch from smoking to vaping? Find out more in our guide ‘What Happens When You Stop Smoking and Start Vaping?’.
Can You Vape While Pregnant?
As there’s still a massive research gap when it comes to vaping during pregnancy, it is unknown whether vapour impacts an expectant mothers unborn baby.5
The NHS suggests using licensed nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products such as nicotine patches or gum to help you become smoke-free.1 However, they also suggest vaping as a less harmful alternative to continued smoking.1
Vaping Zero Nicotine While Pregnant
Little research has been conducted on the impact vape e-liquid has on pregnant women.5 Vapes allow you to inhale nicotine through vapour rather than smoke and evidence suggests that nicotine by itself is considered relatively harmless.1
Nicotine replacement therapy is an alternative option for pregnant women to stop smoking.1 Such treatment includes the use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, nasal sprays, mouth sprays, oral strips, and microtabs.1
Is Secondhand Vaping Bad for Babies?
According to the NHS, secondhand cigarette smoke can impact the health of bystanders who inhale it.2 Those who regularly inhale secondhand smoke are more at risk of developing smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer or heart disease.2
“Smoking e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, doesn’t produce tobacco smoke so the risks of passive smoking with conventional cigarettes doesn’t apply to e-cigs,” states the NHS.2
Although vapes give off very little nicotine into the air, health professionals recommend that you avoid smoking and vaping around pregnant women, babies and children.2
Alternatives for Expecting Mothers
If you are an expectant mother wanting to stop smoking or vaping during pregnancy, there are a couple options available to you.
Nicotine replacement therapy is a recommended alternative to smoking for pregnant women.1 NRT products only contain nicotine and none of the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes, helping you to transition away from them.1 Such products include nicotine patches, gum, nasal sprays, oral strips, and even lozenges.
It is very important to note that the NHS does not advise pregnant women to use stop-smoking tablets such as Champix or Zyban.1
You can be prescribed NRT products when pregnant by a GP or NHS stop smoking adviser, or buy them over the counter from a pharmacy. Before buying any NRT products, make sure to speak to a midwife, GP, pharmacist or specialist stop smoking adviser. Alternatively, you can call the National Smokefree helpline for guidance and support.
Using Nicotine During Pregnancy: Things to Avoid
If you are using nicotine while pregnant, there are certain things to avoid.
According to the NHS, pregnant women can eat liquorice but should avoid consuming liquorice root.4 Therefore, they recommend that expectant mothers avoid using liquorice-flavoured nicotine products.1
Although consuming small amounts of liquorice flavouring in nicotine products has shown no risk to pregnant women, caution should still be taken.1 Manufacturers advise that the excessive consumption of liquorice root may cause adverse side effects.1
When vaping while pregnant, the NHS recommends sticking to alternate flavours such as fruit or mint.1
- NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/stop-smoking/
- NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/passive-smoking-protect-your-family-and-friends/
- GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/smokers-urged-to-swap-cigarettes-for-vapes-in-world-first-scheme
- NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/foods-to-avoid/
- NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/using-e-cigarettes-to-stop-smoking/
- NHS Inform: https://www.nhsinform.scot/ready-steady-baby/pregnancy/looking-after-yourself-and-your-baby/smoking-and-pregnancy