Is it safe to use the nicotine patch while trying to conceive?

Q: I've given up smoking and am planning to get pregnant. Would I be putting my baby at risk if I become pregnant while using a nicotine patch?

A: First off, congratulations on giving up smoking. The hazards of tobacco use during pregnancy--including low birth weight and preterm labor--are well-established. There has not been a great deal of research done about the safety of nicotine-replacement products in pregnant women. I therefore agree with the majority of physicians who vigorously recommend that smoking-cessation products such as gum and patches be discontinued during pregnancy. Knowing that you are making a significant, positive impact on your baby's health is the greatest possible incentive to stop using the nicotine patch before conceiving.