Stopping smoking is never easy but when you’re expecting a baby, kicking the habit has never been more important.
It is medically proven beyond reasonable doubt that smoking whilst pregnant significantly increases your risk of having:
- a miscarriage
- premature labour
- a stillborn baby
- a baby with very low birth weight
What other motivation could you need to stop smoking, even if you’ve tried and failed previously? Up to 40 per cent of all expectant mothers who smoke have successfully given up. And if they can do it, so can you!
How to kick the habit
Now you’ve made the decision to give up, think about how you want to do it. Would you be able to go ‘cold turkey’ or perhaps nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) might be better?
You must have a plan to tackle temptation. You will suffer cravings for cigarettes and giving up isn’t as simple as just throwing your last packet in the bin and skipping away in smoke-free triumph. Typically, cravings are short lived creatures lasting only a few minutes. Find something to distract you for a few moments when they hit. Sitting there hoping the craving will just go away is not a good plan; you need something to distract you and occupy your mouth and fingers. Chewing gum, sucking a sweet or even taking a drink of water are all proven methods of successfully overcoming cravings.
Friends and family are a brilliant source of support while you are trying to quit. It can be great motivation to set a date by which you want to quit. This is especially important as you only have limited time to stop smoking now that you’re pregnant. Every day you continue to smoke, you could be harming your unborn child. Do you know someone who has successfully quit? They may prove to be a fantastic ally and source of support when cravings strike. Stopping smoking is not a journey you have to take on your own.
If any of your friends or family smoke, ask them not to smoke when you’re around. If your partner smokes, encourage them to give up too. You’ll both find it easier to stop smoking if you work together to quit; for the benefit of your unborn baby.
Don’t be afraid to tell your DP and your midwife. They should be able to give you information about local support programmes and will also provide encouragement. And don’t forget to tell your medical team when you’ve successfully kicked the habit; they’ll be thrilled both for you and your baby.
Keeping yourself motivated is extremely important if you are to be successful. Remind yourself daily of the benefits of stopping smoking to yourself and to your baby. If you do relapse and pick up the ciggies again, don’t immediately brand yourself a failure. Everyone who quits will stumble at some point. Get yourself re-motivated and pick up where you left off. Tell yourself that each week you manage without smoking is one week that your baby wasn’t exposed to the harmful toxins in tobacco smoke. Success breeds success; if you can manage one week, you can manage two!
As the weeks pass, your withdrawal symptoms will gradually diminish until they disappear altogether and your cravings will become less demanding and less frequent.
Once you’ve successfully quit, treat yourself with the money you’ve saved by not smoking. Have a facial, a massage; or buy your baby’s first teddy bear.