You’re not able to handle the stress, you’re trying to cope with depression, there’s nobody to support you through it all – the reason(s) you smoke during your pregnancy might be many! But that doesn’t mean they validate your actions. Pregnancy is that amazing phase when you’re responsible for a whole new life that’s innocent and vulnerable. And even a single cigarette a day can have a horrible effect on that life.
How Smoking Affects You And The Baby
Smoking can affect every single stage of the reproduction process.
How It Affects The Mother
- It affects the fertility rate and reduces the chances of conceiving.
- It can result in an early termination of pregnancy within a few weeks, if not days.
- It might increase the possibility of miscarriage.
- It can be the root cause for any complication that results in a declined rate of childbirth.1 2
How It Affects The Baby
- Newborns of mothers who smoked during pregnancy weigh much lesser than those of non-smokers. The sooner you quit smoking during pregnancy, the lesser impact it has on the baby’s weight.3
- Smoking during pregnancy affects the lung capacity of children more than post-natal smoking and childhood exposure.4
- There’s a higher possibility of problem behaviors in such children.5
- Animal studies have shown that nicotine exposure can cause adverse effects in both first and second generation offsprings.6
How To Quit Smoking During Pregnancy
Just the fact that you’ve reached this article shows progress in the right direction as you’re already contemplating your issue. Here are a few suggestions that can take you further ahead.
1. Acknowledge Your Problem
This doesn’t mean just thinking out loud to yourself that “Yes, I do have a smoking problem.” It means you need to acknowledge this with others as well, especially your doctors. Being truthful and honest with your gynecologist is of utmost importance to your baby’s health as they can help you quit smoking.
2. Remember The Consequences Of Your Actions
Your baby will face the brunt of your actions while you will continue to live on, at least marginally, healthier. The baby might not survive the pregnancy, and if it does, it will very likely face multiple health issues that will last a lifetime. Quit smoking now and give your child a healthy future.
3. Set A Goal And Commit Yourself To It
If you can’t quit right now, set a goal. Quit gradually but as quickly as possible. Set a D-Day to end it all and commit yourself to the date. Your baby is enough motivation for you to stick to your plans and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
4. Manage The Cravings By Distracting Yourself
Whenever you feel like smoking, distract yourself. The cravings will last for a few minutes; they will come and go. It won’t be easy, but face them and turn to something else. During these phases, talk to somebody who quit smoking, take a walk outside, eat something, or maybe just drink a huge glass of water. The frequency of cravings will soon reduce and they will stop altogether after a few weeks. Be strong and deal with it.
5. Approach Your Family
Tell Your Family
Lack of support at home can make quitting smoking hard for you. So inform your family and friends about what you plan to do and get their help. They can encourage you to quit and stop you from relapsing.
Ask Your Partner To Quit
If your partner continues to smoke, you will be tempted to do so too and not quit. Remember, passive smoking is also harmful to the fetus. You’re both equally responsible for your baby’s present and future. So do the right thing and head on the right path together.
6. Make Changes To Your Environment
Remove any objects that might make you feel like smoking. Stop hanging out with friends or anybody else who smokes. Go to places that do not have a smoking zone. Make your surroundings happy and healthy.
7. Get Support From Outside
Join Support Groups
Hanging out with a group on the same path will help. Since you’ll be more or less in the same boat and they’ll know what you’re going through, discussing your issues and exchanging ideas will keep you going.
Opt For Support Programs
You can find groups that will follow up on your progress, provide you supporting material to encourage you via messages, and involve you in discussions to keep you going so that you quit soon.
Counselors in this field will have more insight into your problem than you can imagine. Talk to them and figure out a plan to quit your habit.
8. Try Different Methods
Go Cold Turkey
Going cold turkey involves quitting right here and right now. This can be hard for heavy smokers, and you probably cannot manage this without some aid. But doing this gives both you and your baby maximum benefits. And you have the best possible motivation there is to go for it.
Remember that you will face symptoms of nicotine withdrawal like anxiety, depression, lack of focus, restlessness, and irritability along with the usual cravings for the first 2 weeks or so.
This is a tad bit easier for heavy smokers. But gradually does not mean you can take your own sweet time; you need to do it as quickly as possible. Beyond 14 weeks, even 1 cigarette a day is harmful to the baby. It sure is hard to survive this phase till the end, but keep in mind that you’re harming an innocent life more than yourself.
Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
You can choose patches, sprays, or gums to replace cigarettes and manage your cravings. Go for patches if you feel especially nauseous during pregnancy. However, there’s a lack of research on the safety of using NRT during pregnancy and on its actual effectiveness in inducing abstinence.7
Other Possible Methods
- Medicines: Medication for depression have helped some quit smoking. This might be a one-off situation and lacks evidence.
- Acupuncture and hypnosis: These are just two of the many alternative ways for smoking cessation. Yet again, we need more proof to assure you of its safety.
- Retaining the smoke: When smoking, hold the smoke in your mouth and do not pull it in; let it out after a while. This will leave a bad taste in your mouth that can be disgusting and help you quit.
- Making a smelly jar: In a jar, pour some water and dip a few crushed cigarettes in it. Shut the lid. Whenever a craving hits you, open the lid and take a whiff. The horrendous smell will actually keep you away from even wanting a smoke.
Irrespective of what works for you, the end result should be that you quit smoking before it’s too late. Do it for yourself and your baby’s health. Brave a few weeks of difficulty and you can ensure a healthy, happy family. Remember, it’s in your hands alone to create a shining bright future for that little one who is waiting to see you and love you with all of its little heart.
|↑1||Floyd, R. Louise, Barbara K. Rimer, Gary A. Giovino, Patricia D. Mullen, and Susan E. Sullivan. “A review of smoking in pregnancy: effects on pregnancy outcomes and cessation efforts.” Annual review of public health 14, no. 1 (1993): 379-411.|
|↑2||Elsenbruch, Sigrid, Sven Benson, Mirjam Rücke, Matthias Rose, Joachim Dudenhausen, Maike K. Pincus-Knackstedt, Burghard F. Klapp, and Petra C. Arck. “Social support during pregnancy: effects on maternal depressive symptoms, smoking and pregnancy outcome.” Human reproduction 22, no. 3 (2007): 869-877.|
|↑3||Macarthur, Christine, and E. George Knox. “Smoking in pregnancy: effects of stopping at different stages.” BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 95, no. 6 (1988): 551-555.|
|↑4||Tager, Ira B., Long Ngo, and John P. Hanrahan. “Maternal smoking during pregnancy. Effects on lung function during the first 18 months of life.” American Journal of respiratory and critical care medicine 152, no. 3 (1995): 977-983.|
|↑5||Fergusson, David M., L. John Horwood, and Michael T. Lynskey. “Maternal smoking before and after pregnancy: effects on behavioral outcomes in middle childhood.” Pediatrics 92, no. 6 (1993): 815-822.|
|↑6||Bruin, Jennifer E., Hertzel C. Gerstein, and Alison C. Holloway. “Long-term consequences of fetal and neonatal nicotine exposure: a critical review.” Toxicological sciences 116, no. 2 (2010): 364-374.|
|↑7||Coleman, Tim, Sue Cooper, James G. Thornton, Matthew J. Grainge, Kim Watts, John Britton, and Sarah Lewis. “A randomized trial of nicotine-replacement therapy patches in pregnancy.” New England Journal of Medicine 366, no. 9 (2012): 808-818.|