Helping Pregnant Women to Stop Smoking

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and my suggestion is that Sheboygan County residents to do everything we can to provide our newborns with the healthiest start possible.  Helping pregnant women to quit smoking would be a great start towards giving our local babies the best possible start.

As a Public Health Nurse serving Sheboygan County, and facilitator of our local First Breath Program, I always point out to pregnant women that when you smoke, you inhale the deadly gas carbon monoxide.  It is carried through your blood to your baby.  It keeps oxygen from getting to your baby. 

There is a statewide resource that can help pregnant women stop smoking known as the First Breath Program.  Women who enroll in the First Breath Program are provided with a “Benefits to You and Your Baby” workbook and are given tips that will help them to stop smoking.  Mothers who make the decision to quit smoking help their infant to be born healthier, able to breathe easier and less likely to have asthma or ear infections during their lifetime.

According to the 2014 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, smoking during pregnancy can also cause birth defects like cleft lip and/or cleft palate.  In addition, the carbon monoxide in cigarettes prevents the fetus from getting enough oxygen, which can lead to tissue damage in the fetus, particularly in the lungs and brain. 

Quitting smoking can be hard, and being pregnant doesn’t make it any easier to quit.  However, there are resources available.  Wisconsin’s First Breath Program has helped thousands of pregnant women quit smoking through non-judgmental counseling and support.  There is no cost to women who enroll in the First Breath Program.

If you’re pregnant and interested in quitting smoking, contact Victoria Schneider, Public Health Nurse at 920 459-3208 or call the First Breath program at 1-800-448-5148 or visit their website at  With help and support from First Breath, you can quit for you and your baby.

-Submitted by Victoria Schneider, RN, Public Health Nurse-Sheboygan County