Pregnancy is one of the most exciting times in a couple's life — the anticipation, the planning, the dreaming. But it can also be one of the most worrisome and stressful, with a seemingly endless list of precautions to take and adjustments to make. If your partner smokes, the consequences of secondhand (and even thirdhand smoke) are probably a very real concern. You're probably wondering if do I need to stay away from my partner if they smoke, and rightfully so, as the dangerous side effects are well established.
According to the American Pregnancy Association secondhand smoke (which is defined simply as smoke that can be inhaled by anyone in proximity of the person smoking) contains over 4,000 chemicals and the risks of exposure to these chemicals, even briefly or infrequently, includes "miscarriage, low birth weight, early birth, learning or behavioral deficiencies in your child, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)". In fact, according to TIME, exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of still birth and birth defects by a shocking 23 percent.
Furthermore, there are risks associated with thirdhand smoke as well, defined as the "residual nicotine and other chemicals left on a variety of indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke" by the Mayo Clinic. Thirdhand smoke clings to hair, clothes, furniture, walls, drapes, vehicles and other surfaces long after the smoker has left the room. It also can not be cleaned out by airing out a room or turning on a fan, or even confining smoking to one area or room, the same article reports.
Essentially, no level of exposure is safe, especially for an expecting mama and her baby. As terrifying as those risks are, it is still hard to avoid secondhand smoke at times, especially if your partner is the one smoking.
Avoiding your partner for the next nine months, even just while they're smoking, is not only impractical and not very likely to actually happen, it wouldn't be an effective way to ensure that you (and your baby) aren't breathing in second and thirdhand smoke.
Experts recommend that both parents quit smoking after learning of the pregnancy. A hard habit to quit, but a sacrifice worth making not only for your own health, but for the health of your baby-to-be.