Pregnancy

Tips for Quitting Smoking

Pregnant women should not smoke. Smoking while pregnant can be harmful to the growth and development of the baby. The earlier a pregnant woman can stop smoking, the better.  Ideally, a woman will quit before conceiving.

Some of the benefits for the mother are:

  • Fewer skin wrinkles.
  • Fading of tobacco stains on the skin.
  • Fresher breath.
  • Cleaner teeth.
  • Better circulation.
  • Easier breathing.
  • Better sense of taste and smell.
  • More strength and energy.
  • Reduced risk of lung cancer, emphysema and other tobacco related illness

Some of the benefits for the baby are:

  • No harmful chemicals passing from the mother’s blood to the baby.  Cigarettes contain over 4,000 different chemicals, including lead and cyanide.  When a woman smokes, those chemicals, plus nicotine and carbon monoxide, end up in her blood.  The blood then carries all those toxins right to the baby, and a tiny baby does not have the ability to handle those toxins.
  • Better blood flow to the uterus. Both nicotine and carbon monoxide affect the amount of oxygen the baby receives. Nicotine narrows the blood vessels in a woman’s body, including the ones that run through the umbilical cord, meaning that less blood is reaching the baby.  At the same time, carbon monoxide is replacing oxygen in the woman’s blood, meaning that whatever blood that is reaching the baby has less oxygen than it should.  Too little oxygen can damage the baby to the point of death.
  • Full term delivery and healthy birth weight.  Relating again to oxygen supply, mothers that smoke are more likely to have premature and low birth weight babies.  Babies born too early and too small struggle to grow and thrive, and many have lasting health complications.  A woman who doesn’t smoke has a much greater chance of delivering a full term, fully developed baby.

Smoking is a serious addiction. Even when a woman understands the consequences of smoking while pregnant, she may struggle to quit. Below are a few simple and effective tips for quitting.

Tips to Quit Smoking Completely

  • Make a list of reasons to quit, and look at that list when you feel the need to smoke.
  • Select a day to quit. Circle it on your calendar. Talk about your plan to friends, family and coworkers. When the day arrives, throw away all the cigarettes (or any other tobacco product), lighters and ashtrays.  Put everything in a bag and carry it to the trash. If you think you might be tempted to pull anything back out of the bag, put something really rancid and disgusting in the bag with the cigarettes.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Use a stress ball or do some needlework, or write a blog about your struggles; anything to keep your hands busy.
  • Take a walk.  When the urge for a cigarette becomes almost too much to bear, move.  Exercise releases feel-good hormones and endorphins, and can be relaxing.  Mild to moderate exercise is not only safe for pregnant women, it is strongly encouraged.
  • Chew sugarless gum or eat some celery.  Having something to chew can help alleviate feeling of needing something in your mouth.  Just remember, nicotine gum and other stop smoking aids like the patch still supply nicotine to the body, and so would still put your baby at risk.  Those tools are not recommended for the pregnant woman.
  • Stay away from activities, places and people that you associate with smoking.
  • Ask for help.  Finding a friend or loved one that you can truly rely on, day or night, for help getting past the cravings will be immensely helpful.
  • Talk to your doctor.  He or she really wants you to stop smoking, and probably has a number of resources available to help you succeed.  Many communities have support groups and other such programs that can help you, and your doctor will be able to get you the information you need.

Don’t give up or be too hard on yourself if you slip up or backtrack.  Quitting smoking is hard work, and very few people can simply decide to quit and never smoke again.  Stay strong, stay positive, try out some of these ideas, and look forward to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

 

 

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