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Did Anyone Struggle with Smoking While Pregnant? ***UPDATED w/ FRIEND'S COMMENTS***

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Mods, I'm asking here rather than the pregnancy board b/c I'm looking for people that may have already been through this and have words of wisdom.

It's not me (whew, I don't want to be pregnant!) but a dear friend of mine is thrilled to be 7 weeks pregnant and she confessed to me that she is really struggling w/ the cigarette addiction. I feel bad for her. She *knows* how awful it is for the baby, but she is one of the most addicted to cigs people I know.

She said it really sucks b/c everyone told her she would be grossed out by cigs when she got pg (I know I was), but she hasn't suffered any nausea and sickness so therefore she is still having strong cravings!

Also, she mentioned she switched to Ultra-lights, and I bit my tongue, but I don't think that that is any "healthier," is it???

Please help me with useful and non-preachy advice. I know a lot of us are very much bothered by pg women who smoke, and she knows that (she is very ashamed) and I want to be supportive and helpful to her and lay off the judgment. Thanks so much!


*******************

UPDATE: I told my friend about MDC, and gave her the link to this post. This is her response. Thank you to for your helpful words of wisdom and support!

Quote:
oh my gosh, karina, i can't thank you enough for sharing. if anything, it makes me know i'm not alone and gives me more confidence that i can and will stop. it's true i'm smoking less and making sure to eat well and drink lots of water (instead of tea!)....But I will take some of the suggestions and know that mental health is so important, too......at work it's easiest. home tough esp. on weekends. but that link wasn't nearly as judgemental as i feared. thanks a million.......I will continue my quest and keep at it!! great advice from all and in some ways good to hear others admitted to smoking or know others and baby was fine! still a chance my body will reject it, too....... You're a good friend!love, T
post #2 of 31
In a paradoxical way, if you can accept that she is smoking, reassure her that the baby is going to be fine, suggest that she listen to her body and smoke when her body tells her to, and try not to beat herself up about it, she might find the confidence to quit, or at least reduce the smoking.

It seems backwards, that if she gives up the thought, "I MUST stop smoking! OMG I HAVE to! I'm killing my baby" it will actually help her to quit. Anxiety increases smoking. Quitting needs to come from a place of confidence and security. Her body is going through so many changes, as are her emotions, that smoking might be a coping mechanism that, at least temporarily, she still needs.

Also studies have shown that women who smoke have significantly less nausea. It might be better for her to wait til the more comfortable second trimester to think about quitting.

Switching to Ultralights IS better than regular cigarettes.

Just support her where she is, and help her to find peace with whatever she is doing with the smoking. This will free her to make the best choice she can.
post #3 of 31
I gave up before I got pregnant with DS though unfortunately I started again when he was about 9 months old. I didn't stop until about 8 weeks with this pregnancy as it was a surprise.

She can use patches, and chew nicotine gum. Also I just cut down from about 25 a day to around 8 I think and because of the slow reduction by the time I got to 8 I could quit without any problems because my system wasn't as used to so much nicotine.

Also mention that if she stops in the first trimester the baby will be born at a normal weight rather than smaller.

I kind of agree with PP. I went so far to look up risks of smoking during pregnancy and printing a list to stick on the fridge and it did nothing to help me stop. Yes I felt horribly guilty but I didn't stop smoking.

I would encourage her to either use some patches etc or cut down gradually until it becomes easy to go cold turkey.

Also, Ultralights would be better because there are less tar and nicotine in them.
post #4 of 31
Advise her to ask her doctor if he/she knows of anything that can help. She's not the first person who's had to deal with this....and she won't be the last.

best wishes.

xoe
post #5 of 31
I have and still am struggling with it. I was able to quit completely by about 20 weeks with my second child. I never quit with my first, and I don't know if I'll be able to quit this time with my 3rd. The best thing you can do is give her gentle encouragement, maybe you could even give up something you like along with her, like pop or chocolate, and promise not to eat those things as long as she doesn't smoke. That helps some people. She should cut back as much as possible, though. And no, light and ultra light smokes are not safer! Smoking does affect the baby and it affects the placenta too-nutrients are inhibited from reaching the baby, so she needs to be eating a VERY good diet and maybe even taking supplements or prenatal vitamins and making sure that she's getting everything she needs and then some. I did read in the Brewer Pregnancy Diet book that following their plan and getting adequate calories and protein during pregnancy can help "cancel out" the nutritional damage done by smoking. Obviously this isn't an excuse to continue smoking, but if she absolutely cannot stop it is something she needs to consider.
post #6 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Learning_Mum View Post

She can use patches, and chew nicotine gum. Also I just cut down from about 25 a day to around 8 I think and because of the slow reduction by the time I got to 8 I could quit without any problems because my system wasn't as used to so much nicotine.



I would encourage her to either use some patches etc or cut down gradually until it becomes easy to go cold turkey.


Unless she is an extremely heavy smoker, I would NOT recommend the patch! When you wear a nicotine patch, it sends a CONSTANT stream of nicotine into your system, and you actually get MORE nicotine through the patch than you do from a single cigarette. I tried using the patch a few times, but it always made me extremely ill because I am not a heavy smoker and it shocked my body with such a huge amount of nicotine.
post #7 of 31
My dr. couldn't rx me anything for quitting. She said it would be unethical.

I agree that guilty feelings will only make it harder for her, oddly enough. If she can start by cutting back, that's a great start and I would support her 100% in her struggles.
post #8 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Poot View Post
Unless she is an extremely heavy smoker, I would NOT recommend the patch! When you wear a nicotine patch, it sends a CONSTANT stream of nicotine into your system, and you actually get MORE nicotine through the patch than you do from a single cigarette. I tried using the patch a few times, but it always made me extremely ill because I am not a heavy smoker and it shocked my body with such a huge amount of nicotine.
Yeah, that. The patches and gum are not recommended in pregnancy.

FWIW, this is not a popular opinion but I'm sharing it anyway ...
I struggled with smoking when I was pregnant. I was feeling a lot of anxiety and guilt over not being able to quit, and working myself up the way a pp was describing. After talking to my midwife about it, she told me that there is no demonstrable harm if you keep your smoking to less than five a day. Quitting can actually be a gigantic shock to the system and is stressful for baby, too.

Obviously, don't smoke inside, wash your hands, hair, and clothes frequently, etc etc. But ... less than five a day. And your friend doesn't have to beat herself up.

I'm not advocating smoking during pregnancy. What I'm saying is that if she absotively posilutely can't/won't quit ... less than five a day is way, way better for her and for baby than the patch or the gum.
post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktbug View Post
I'm not advocating smoking during pregnancy. What I'm saying is that if she absotively posilutely can't/won't quit ... less than five a day is way, way better for her and for baby than the patch or the gum.
Double yeah that to the bolded part, but cigarettes are the to quit. I know.
post #10 of 31
Her OB will have some good advice for her. With my last pregnancy, I quit smoking right away. But I told my OB that i was a smoker prior to me finding out I was expecting and he referred me to a support group. It was a phone support and online and it was managed through my insurance company. I never had to use it so I can't recall the name of it. Although my insurance company managed the group, there were many people involved that were not insured and there for support. It was free.

I agree with the gradual quitting. I did smoke through my pregnancy with ds many years ago and by the time he was born, I had quit. I was essentially forced to reduce the amount I smoked while pg with him since none of my friends or family would buy me cigarettes (Yeah! for them!!) I was too embaressed to go into a store visably pregnant and ask for a pack.

I wish your friend the best of luck. My dd was born very early and although I quit when I found out, I wonder if my smoking contributed to her early birth. I don't think so but it's always there, you know?
post #11 of 31
Yes, I have. I tried to quit while TTC, but never could, not until the minute I got the positive test result. With dd, I relapsed after the end of morning sickness for several months. The only thing that helped me with her was that I moved, and I was able to set that up as deadline in my mind. With the first 2, I went back to smoking after I stopped nursing. I'm still smoke-free after ds2.

Anway, if she can't quit -- yes, Ultralights are safer; lights are not.

Try to get her to use her sense of shame positively -- spend a lot of time outdoors and with other moms with kids, etc. Once she starts to show, it might help her really cut down, if not quit altogether.

As an experienced quitter, the thing that helped me the most was lollipops -- it has that very similar hand to mouth action, unlike gum or lozenges.

I wish her luck.
post #12 of 31
I quit when I was pregant with no trouble thanks to very bad "morning" sickness, so I don't really have any good btdt advice.

I do agree with the pp's that stressing herself out and feeling incredibly guilty is not healthy for her or her babe, either. Stress and fear release hormones into her body, so trying to remain positive and feel proud of whatever small reductions she can make IS doing something beneficial for her baby.

Also, I think there's a lot more data supporting health detriments from second hand smoke for babies *after* birth than babies in utero. Maybe if she focused on cutting down to nothing by the time the baby is born, that would be a more realistic goal.

Or maybe she could come up with some non smoking-related goals, like this:

every time I think about smoking I'm going to : go for a short walk, or meditate on my belly for 10 minutes, or do 25 Kegels, or whatever first. If I still *have* to have a cigarette, then at least I've done something beneficial as well.
post #13 of 31
I used to hide in alleyways to smoke when I was pg and bawl that I was doing it. I still cry when I think about it. I cannot express the shame I felt at the time and still feel even now that I have quit. I am NOT advocating smoking here. NOT AT ALL but I think that all the stress and guilt and anxiety a pg Mama would feel about smoking is worse than the smoking itself. JMHO.
post #14 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by woobysma View Post

every time I think about smoking I'm going to : go for a short walk, or meditate on my belly for 10 minutes, or do 25 Kegels, or whatever first. If I still *have* to have a cigarette, then at least I've done something beneficial as well.

I like this. May I add another suggestion? I took up knitting and crochet when I was pregnant and it was very calming and relaxing. Maybe balancing her cravings with a project for the baby would help.
post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your suggestions. I will be talking to her soon (she lives far away which sucks b/c I wish I were closer so I could be more supportive in general) and I will pass along these tips.

I really appreciate it! I'm sure she will,too. She's such a great woman and will be a great mom (she's scared to death).
post #16 of 31
I smoked until 15 weeks into my pregnancy. First, I made a deal with my DP wouldn't buy anymore cigarettes. He could buy ciggy's and I would smoke them. Well he bought crappy ciggy's . Since I was a picky smoker...Same Brand, menthol only, it didn't take long. The cigs made me sick.
My OB told me not to be in a hurry to quit smoking. He told me it was bad, but to be stressed out might actually be worse. The important thing was I was reducing the amount I was smoking.
post #17 of 31
I had a friend who wasn't able to quit smoking during pregnancy, and she really did try, and I said IMO the less she smokes the better, so just do what she can and her child will almost certainly be fine. And she did keep going to fewer cigarettes throughout the pregnancy, her baby was fine, and she did not too long after the baby was born actually quit, so she was able to go through her second pregnancy without smoking at all.

So that's what I say to friends who smoke. Do what you can - whatever you can do will help.
post #18 of 31
I was addicted to cigarettes and pregnant.

The more I thought about quitting and the harm I was doing to my bay, the more I smoked AND the less I ate. I was a stressed out wreck.

Eventually I stopped thinking about having to quit RIGHT NOW!
I took it on as a project. I did research, I made a binder of info containing stuff like; the harm of smoking, what quitting is like, what I could do when I craved, what was going on with my body as I quit (day1, day3, day7, day14, day30) I journaled before, durning and after, I tried to figure out my mental blocks, I bought nicorette gum(which is healthier than smoking).

Then it became mind over matter for me. I even had a dream that I kicked smoking(and my abusive ex) out the door. The next day I felt so empowered. I said this is it! You have 3 days, then no more cigarettes. It worked! I stopped smoking, starting journaling. I ate really spicy candy whenever I craved, drank lots of water, chewed my gum, replaced that gum with regular gum, and I never looked back. When it got too bad I would dream I was smoking and I would wake up 'satisfied'.

I hope you friend can over-come her addiction. It's not easy, but it feels great. I was 5-6months when I quit.
post #19 of 31
Another post mentioned this I think- it will help tremendously if she only smokes outside. I made a promise that I would never smoke around my kids, and when I was pregnant with my first child I started smoking outside and ONLY outside. Almost 2.5 years later I still only smoke outside. this is a great way to cut back on how much you smoke, especially in the winter!!! :
post #20 of 31
she should cut back as much as possible if she can't quit. Smoking while pregnant is associated with lower birth weight but it isn't the worst thing in the world. My friend was a pack a day smoker and cut back to 4 cigs a day when pregnant. He baby was huge and wonderful.

After birth is is important to smoke outside away from child since second hand smoke has all kinds of bad effects on kids, much worse, in fact, than smoking while pregnant.
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