Why quit smoking? This isn't about being politically correct. Put bluntly: each time you smoke, your baby does, too --...
Why quit smoking? This isn't about being politically correct. Put bluntly: each time you smoke, your baby does, too -- he will have nicotine passed into his bloodstream and placenta. This affects your baby's ability to get all of the important oxygen and nutrients that his body needs to grow. The American Lung Association reports that babies of smokers account for up to 30% of low-birth weight babies, 14% of preterm deliveries, and 10% of all infant deaths. So if you smoke during pregnancy your baby is more likely to have growth problems, extra colds, and learning disabilities after he's born. Newer research shows that even secondhand smoke can cause many of these same problems. But common sense dictates that smoking during pregnancy is not healthy for you or your that little person growing inside you. It's just that quitting can seem like a huge mountain to climb, especially when you're already experiencing so much change -- like adjusting to your ever-expanding waistline and getting used to the idea of becoming a new mama. Quitting can be hard, but you can do it. I've got some great tips that can get you going.
- This first tip is more of a heads up. Sometimes our own bodies can help us to quit smoking. Many women quit smoking when early pregnancy nausea makes it difficult to smoke without feeling sick. Other women quit because all of a sudden they develop a distaste for it. Some think this is due to hormones and some think it's due to subliminally knowing it's bad for the baby. I'm not positive what causes the distaste but if it works great.
- Keep a log. Every time you want a cigarette write down the time of day, why you want to smoke, how you're feeling (etc. happy, depressed, angry), and rate the craving on a 1-10 scale. This works much like a food journal for dieters. The smoking journal is a newer adaptation of the food journal but I've seen it work well for smokers. One of the reasons may be the work involved. By the time you log everything there's a good chance your craving will have passed.
- Make this a team effort. If your partner or friends smoke ask them not to around you. It won't help you to quit if everyone else is lighting up. Plus remember that second hand smoke is toxic for your baby. Talk to your partner about quitting altogether so you don't return to smoking after the baby is born. It's very tempting to smoke if you are an ex-smoker and you live with a current smoker.
- Make a list of all the great reasons to quit. Xerox that list and post it in your car, on your bathroom mirror, on the fridge, and read often.
- Talk with your care provider. Your care provider can hook you up with helpful resources and provide on-going encouragement. Even if you're embarrassed about smoking while pregnant your care provider needs to know so that she can help plan the best care for you and your baby. Believe me you won't be the first (or last) pregnant woman she meets who want to quit smoking.
- Each time you want a cigarette, close your eyes. Take a deep breath and slowly count to ten. Focus your thoughts on your baby. If your craving passes put a quarter in a jar. When that jar is full go buy the cutest baby outfit ever.
- Create your own radical plan. My friend pasted her baby's ultrasound picture to her pack of cigarettes -- it took her a week to quit. Another woman I know gave herself a chocolate kiss for each cigarette she turned down. Now, chocolate in excess can also be unhealthy but nowhere near as bad as nicotine. Do whatever works for you.