Is it safe to use the nicotine patch while pregnant?

Q: I just found out I'm pregnant, and I'm trying to stop smoking. Is it safe for me to use the nicotine patch?

A: While the patch and other nicotine-replacement products are generally considered OK to use during pregnancy, their absolute safety has not been confirmed. As such, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women try to stop smoking via other means before turning to these products. You might, for instance, work with a therapist who specializes in smoking cessation or find a "smoking buddy" you can turn to for support and encouragement. Also consider calling the Great Start "quit line" at 866-66-START, which specializes in helping pregnant women kick the habit.

If you are not able to stop on your own, talk to your doctor about using a smoking-cessation aid. One that supplies an intermittent dose of nicotine, such as gum or an inhaler, may be preferable to the patch, which supplies a continuous dose. (If the patch is recommended, ask if it can be removed at night to limit your baby's exposure to nicotine.) Giving up smoking may not be easy, but think of it as one of the many wise decisions you will make as a parent.