Why Are Pregnant Women Told This (about Smoking while pregnant)?!?! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 02-27-2008, 09:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My friend (a pregnant heavy smoker who is on her 4th day cig-free! Good for her!!) sent me an email telling me how proud she is that she isn't smoking and it's really hard but great. I'm so happy for her! =)

But then she wrote - "The silly thing is more than one person have said that having up to four a day as it's better than being stressed."

I recall this other pregnant woman who smoked saying this to me as well, and have actually heard it a few times, now that I think about it!

It just seems like such crap. I didn't smoke while pregnant, yet dealt w/ a HUGE amount of stress b/c DH and I thought we might divorce and I also dealt w/ death. So is this just some crazy thing that people say to themselves to keep smoking, or is there some truth to it?

(By the way, this post is not meant to be judgmental towards people who have struggled w/ smoking, like my dear friend. I know it is a horrible addiction, and I sympathize w/ that. I just think it's one of those "fool yourself" mentalities so that people can continue harmful habits).
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#2 of 23 Old 02-27-2008, 09:52 PM
 
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i have never heard that.

Chrissy, lucky mama to Noah (9), Lilah (6), Rowan (3) and Laney (1).
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#3 of 23 Old 02-27-2008, 09:55 PM
 
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I have heard that too.

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#4 of 23 Old 02-27-2008, 09:55 PM
 
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You sure don't hear anyone (in the US) saying, "Go ahead and have a glass of wine every day, it's better than being stressed!"

Man I could use a glass of wine.
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#5 of 23 Old 02-27-2008, 10:00 PM
 
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I think that some women are actually told this by their OBs.

I do know that one of my online friends ended up weaning her toddler because her milk supply dropped to almost nothing while she was quitting smoking. Obviously, quitting did a HUGE number on her body- beyond the emotional stress there is actual physical stress involved.

If the stress of quitting caused her milk supply to drop, could it have led to a miscarraiage if she'd quit while pg?

Of course, I have no idea if she used this as an excuse to quit, or if she was irritable and spent less time nursing which led to lowered supply- if it was behavioral rather than a physical reason for the drop in milk supply.

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#6 of 23 Old 02-27-2008, 10:02 PM
 
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That's crap. Bottom line.

Maybe some old-school OB's are still spewing this nonsense, but I hope that any doctor who is up-to-date in their knowledge knows better.
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#7 of 23 Old 02-27-2008, 10:06 PM
 
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Hmm. I wonder if they've actually done any studies. Because of course cigarette smoke is really bad, but I would imagine excessive stress hormones really can have a negative effect as well.

Wife to a wonderful dh and mom to four beautiful kiddos, dd (3/04):, ds1 (1/06), ds2 (10/08), and ds3 (7/10)
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#8 of 23 Old 02-27-2008, 10:30 PM
 
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During my first pregnancy I was told not to quit smoking in the 1st trimester because it would cause a miscarriage. I believed it too.
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#9 of 23 Old 02-27-2008, 10:44 PM
 
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I was told, by 3 doctors and a couple nurses, not to quit smoking entirely while pregnant-- to gradually taper back as much as possible. In my case, I do think there would have been an increased risk for miscarriage because I was a 3-4 pack a day smoker right before i found out i was pregnant. I'm not at all proud of myself, but I still believe the unborn baby could have died from withdrawl... In hind site, I wonder why they didn't prescribe me the patch or some nicotine gum??? That was about 3ish years ago.
As an update, I am quitting this time around. I quit for 3 months this summer, then we moved and the people under us (ack excuses!) smoked in the apartment. All. the. time. And I could smell it all. the. time. I couldn't handle it.... But, they moved out this weekend!!! I am not buying anymore, I have my "just in case" gum... I can do this!

---feeling like an emu on acid---
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#10 of 23 Old 02-27-2008, 11:01 PM
 
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when I found out I was pregnant with my ds (it was totally shocking news!) I had been a smoker for FOURTEEN YEARS. After I got that second line, I didn't light up again. (Ok, I did once when I was SURE the clotting and heavy bleeding were leading to amiscarriage) Yeah, it was stressful. So was quitting the coffee and Diet Pepsi. Headaches from hell for a week. Irritability to boot.

When I saw my doc he asked me how much I was smoking, I told him I had quit. He was quite suprised but didnt offer anything else on the subject.

I still havent started again and now I am expecting number 2.

IMHO its a bs excuse. I would feel soooo dirty and scummy smoking while pregnant.
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#11 of 23 Old 02-27-2008, 11:40 PM
 
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Well, I certainly wouldn't advocate smoking 4 cigs a day "just because", even if there's no proof it is harmful to the baby.

But, for a person who is a heavy smoker, I don't think it's bad advice to tell them to cut back as much as they can and if they can cut back to 4 a day, that's good. Obviously it's ideal to actually quit smoking altogether, but that's not the reality for a lot of women. If they realize that 4 a day is the max they can have, they might be inclined to stick to it as opposed to throwing their arms in the air and not trying to cut back at all, thinking it's a lost cause if they don't quit completely.

I do wonder about the shock a smoker's body goes through when they quit cold turkey. I thought it's been pretty much recommended that the healthiest way for anyone to rid themselves of any substance they're dependent on is to do so slowly.

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#12 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 12:13 AM
 
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Originally Posted by NotTheOnlyOne View Post
I would feel soooo dirty and scummy smoking while pregnant.
Thanks. I do. It doesn't help too much, though because it's an addiction. I'm sure there are plenty of drug addicts that feel dirty and scummy while they are pregnant, but it doesn't solve a thing, does it?

---feeling like an emu on acid---
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#13 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 12:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by wednesday View Post
You sure don't hear anyone (in the US) saying, "Go ahead and have a glass of wine every day, it's better than being stressed!"

Man I could use a glass of wine.
Ha, according to a local mom I know she had a glass EVERY day of her pg and was told that was fine!

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Originally Posted by thixle View Post
Thanks. I do. It doesn't help too much, though because it's an addiction. I'm sure there are plenty of drug addicts that feel dirty and scummy while they are pregnant, but it doesn't solve a thing, does it?
Aw, : I can't imagine how torn and hard it must be. Have you tried any homeopathic remedies? I've heard of people having great results and there's no harm to the baby.

Christi

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#14 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 12:25 AM
 
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My friend said her OB told her this. She smoked with all 4 of her babies (2 twins) and they all have chronic illnesses. My mom smoked with all 4 of us, too "lites". We all had issues. Thanks, mom. Thanks, doc.

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#15 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 12:35 AM
 
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I have heard people say their doc told them this. My doc just told me to quit. Use the gum or patch or mints, just quit.
That being said I was 26 weeks with ds before I managed to do it and am 24 weeks with this one and am still struggling with it.
Of course you feel crummy when you are doing it, thats a given. You know what else feels crummy? Trying to quit and having an anxiety attack while at home by yourself with your toddler and 14 weeks pregnant. Having your heart race so hard until you faint and whack your head and are unconscious for 10 minutes with your toddler screaming.
I am struggling with an addiction....I know that.

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#16 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 11:28 AM
 
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I hate when I hear that. I work with so many women who dont bother to quit when pregnant, because their OB tells them not to bother. It would be a "shock" to their system. Or too "stressfull"

Yes, it's an addiction...I have been a smoker myself. but how are so many women who find out they are pg able to quit cold turkey & so easily, too? Maybe because they care more about the health of their unborn child than their want to smoke? There were plenty of times I wanted to smoke but you find the strength within yourself to steer clear of those things when you have another life to look after. I'm not passing judgement... just saying I know how it feels to have to give up drinking & smoking so my child has the best chance to have a healthy life.

I'm judgemental about some of the stuff I've heard, but mostly about the DOCTORS who are advising women to keep smoking because quitting would be too stressful. That's pathetic; all a smoker needs is an excuse to continue to just destroy any resolve they might have to quit. Being pregnant can be a wonderful motivator, and can give many women the strength and resolve they need to finally give it up... but if your doctor is telling you NOT to?! Yeah, right, now its definetly not going to happen!

"Its too stressfull for the baby, it could cause a miscarriage" BULLSH***T
There is absolutely no proof out there that stress causes miscarriage. It is not healthy for you or the baby, but it does not cause miscarriage. Miscarriage is usually a chromosonal abnormality.

So lets talk about what DOES and what DOESNT cause miscarriage

The majority of miscarriages result from random chromosomal abnormalities in the developing baby. An egg or sperm will fail to divide properly and end up with the wrong number of chromosomes to form a healthy human being. While sometimes a baby with specific chromosomal abnormalities can make it to birth, such as in the case of Down's Syndrome (trisomy 21), most of the time mistakes in the number of chromosomes leave the developing baby without all the genetic material he or she needs to grow, and this causes the baby to die in utero. Chromosomal abnormalities are not a result of failing to take your prenatal vitamins or bad diet habits. They can happen to anyone -- and in most cases they're random anomalies and everything will most likely be fine next time. It's somewhat more statistically common for older mothers to have miscarriages due to chromosomal abnormalities, but frequently afflict younger mothers too. It's no one's fault.

Other causes of miscarriage are also biological. They can be caused by chronic diseases such as diabetes, immune system abnormalities, random hormonal imbalances, or an abnormally shaped uterus. As with chromosomal abnormalities, none of these conditions are caused by factors within the moms control.

What doesn't cause miscarriages

Diet doesnt cause miscarriage. There's no evidence to support that it does. . Forgetting to take your prenatal vitamins also doesn't cause miscarriage. Remember that women give birth in malnourished countries around the world, so simply eating a less than optimal diet or not taking your vitamins in itself is not going to cause a miscarriage.

Having a few drinks, or even getting completely drunk, before you found out you were pregnant is also unlikely to cause a miscarriage. Since not all pregnancies are planned, women frequently may find out they're pregnant as a surprise and still go on to have a perfectly healthy baby.

Stress does not cause miscarriage. There is no evidence that even extreme emotional stress may be linked to miscarriage, and as far as general anxiety, remember that most mothers are anxious and worry about their babies, yet the human race is still in existence.

There are studies linking miscarriage to alcohol, smoking cigarrettes, caffeine, and use of NSAIDs. Numerous studies link excessive drinking and smoking to increased odds of miscarriage! Excessive, not moderate, but EXCESSIVE caffeine intake is also correlated with increased risk of miscarriage.

I want to know where these DRS are getting their info from when they say to continue smoking, and that stress from quitting will harm the baby. I want to know what is wrong with these women that they dont question the darn OB and ask "why is smoking terrible for me, but not terrible enough for you to encourage me to quit?" Oh, wait, most people DONT question their OBs. They know everything, right? *rolling eyes.

Theres my vent. Sorry so long.

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#17 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 01:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by thixle View Post
Thanks. I do. It doesn't help too much, though because it's an addiction. I'm sure there are plenty of drug addicts that feel dirty and scummy while they are pregnant, but it doesn't solve a thing, does it?

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#18 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 01:42 PM
 
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My doctor told me with my first daughter that quitting cigarettes and my anti-depressents "cold turkey" would be "too stressful" so it was okay if I still smoked a few a day. Being 18 I believed him and of course, "a few" to me ended up being around 5-10 (I was smoking 2 packs a day, so I guess it was better, but still).

Looking back...honestly, I think a lot of it is doctor's trying not to make women feel guilty or freaked out if they've been smoking. Maybe they're afraid if they come down too hard they'll quit coming to prenatals, or not try to cut back at all. I don't know. It doesn't make any sense. I knew smoking while pregnant wasn't GOOD, but I didn't know till later how BAD it was. Thankfully she's 6.5 years old and doesn't seem to have been affected. I still feel guilty about it and it's definitely one of the biggest things I regret in my life.

I quit smoking right away with dd2 and this one. Hopefully I won't start up again and it won't be an issue next time around.

So yeah. Doctors say that and I don't get it.
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#19 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 02:40 PM
 
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Aw, : I can't imagine how torn and hard it must be. Have you tried any homeopathic remedies? I've heard of people having great results and there's no harm to the baby.
Do you know of any you can recommend (worked for someone you know)? I am leary of the ones that don't list ingredients, but I would check it out. I honestly believe I can do it this time. I don't smoke much as it is, not compared to blowing through a pack in an hour or so, like at the beginning of my last pregnancy... I am conciously and gradually cutting back to make severe side-effects a little less severe... I should be out completely in less than a week. I do have the gum if the cravings get too strong.



.... here is the thing about this conversation. There are a few people who manage to quit cold turkey once they realize they are pregnant. There are many, many more that physically cannot. And it tears me up inside when even exsmokers don't believe there is a physical addiction "Maybe because they care more about the health of their unborn child than their want to smoke?" I have quit (a big thing, even if I started again), I have tried to quit, I have tapered back, but the physical brain still craves. You should try going to stop smoking support groups- people who have had limbs removed because they continued smoking-- yeah, they just wanted to smoke more than they wanted to have legs and arms ... I don't want to smoke. It tastes like dried $#@!, it makes me feel horrible, it is actually killing me.

Heroin addicts are not told to stop cold turkey because it can kill their baby. Instead, they are given methadone, which is less harmful. Methadone is actually less harmful than cigarette smoke. Why don't they give pregnant women methadone to help get off of nicotine? Why don't they just give pregnant women safe forms of nicotine? The docs told me that nic gum/patches were not safe during pregnancy- and I believed that it was possible to get too high of a dose. Tobacco is an acceptable drug in our country... our country was founded on it. You see how long the anti-smoking campaigns have been going on? There are still people who believe it is harmless.

Heavy tobacco smokers are told to gradually cut back because too quick of a withdrawl can kill their baby. Your heart rate changes, drastically and often. Your blood sugar is regulated by the tobacco- which means for most people, their blood sugar has not been maintained by the pancreas/own body for YEARS. Which is probably why JustVanessa has had the episodes she posted about. Her blood sugar dropped quickly and she passed out. Feeling bad is only half of it. The changes in the way your body functions on and off nicotine is drastic.

Ugh. I could go on and on about why cold turkey is not the best method during pregnancy (or when you have another medical condition like diabetes).
But it is usually pointless to argue online unless you have some kind of medical study to back yourself up... and I haven't found one. But the changes the mothers body goes through, amplified to the fetus? Yes, cause for concern sometimes.

I just wish people would stop bashing smokers without knowing much about it. Yes, it is my fault that I chose to smoke as a child. Yes, I am the only one who can make myself quit. I don't think doctors are coddling women when they tell them to cut back as far as they can, nor do I think they are trying to keep them in the practice. When I said yes, I'm a smoker, the doc berated me for a good 5 minutes, and then changed his tune when i said how much I smoked. And so, i asked every other doc in the practice and a few of the nurses, who all gave me the same verbal info- cut back gradually, quit if you can, but don't quit cold turkey. The research I managed on my own gave me the same conclusion. I wasn't trying to preserve my addiction, I was trying to preserve my daughter. And she was healthy, robust, 7 lb 1oz, 19.5 inches- stocky and strong, she lifted her head to look at me. She started scooting and rolling at 2 weeks, crawling at 4 months... I think I made the best decision.

And no, I don't believe having 4 cigs a day is better than being stressed out. I think both flood the bloodstream with bad substances that are detrimental to the development of the fetus and should be avoided if possible. But you can't avoid all harmful enviornmental factors, just like you can't avoid stress.
I'm not saying that all pregnant smokers should continue smoking. I'm saying each body is different and if you are a pregnant smoker, you should be aware of possible complications and keep a close eye on your bood sugar levels especially.

(This is an anecdote, and I'll end my little novel. Can you tell I haven't smoked today???- This happened to my FIL a few months ago: He is diabetic. He talked to his specialist who said quit immediately. FIL has smoked 30some years, so I guess the doc didn't think he would do it. FIL quit that afternoon, the next morning, driving to work, FIL passed into a sugar coma and wrecked, almost died. Saw same doc later that same day, doc told him about how smoking regualtes your sugar and that FIL should have notified doc as soon as he quit so that his insulin could be adjusted-- FIL is suing doc now because he had his liscence suspended, and the doc withheld important information about FIL's treatment... can you say malpractice? This info should be handed out to everyone.

---feeling like an emu on acid---
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#20 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 03:09 PM
 
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But then she wrote - "The silly thing is more than one person have said that having up to four a day as it's better than being stressed."
...
It just seems like such crap. I didn't smoke while pregnant, yet dealt w/ a HUGE amount of stress b/c DH and I thought we might divorce and I also dealt w/ death. So is this just some crazy thing that people say to themselves to keep smoking, or is there some truth to it?
Chemicals are released in the bloodstream with both stress and cigarette smoke. Depending on the study, and it is quite possible there is one, the findings could be that the chemicals passed to the baby from prolonged stress are more detrimental than the chemicals passing to the baby from cigarette smoke. And the 3 baby books I have in front of me say that large amounts of maternal stress and malnutrition cause miscarriage. So maybe a study was done where 4 cigs a day didn't cause miscarriage? So that would mean it was less dangerous than stress? I don't have any real "source" for it.

... and people will rationalize anything to keep themselves smoking. But yes, I believe there is some truth, or a study exists, that supports it, in a round about way

---feeling like an emu on acid---
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#21 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 03:23 PM
 
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Wow, I feel really lucky after reading this thread. I've been a smoker for 10 years now, and quit for both of my pregnancies cold turkey with hardly any problems. It was really a "mind over matter" thing for me, I just imagined all that nasty smoke going straight to my baby and suddenly, I no longer wanted to smoke. (Plus, it tasted and smelled horrible to me with the pregnancy sensory amplification.)

I also had good incentive to quit after seeing what it did to friend's babies when they smoked during pregnancy. One was born term weighing only 5 lbs. One had terrible asthma since birth. One died of SIDS at 2 days old. I don't have a single friend who smoked during pregnancy and "the baby was fine" as people love to say.

The cravings can be quite powerful, sometimes, but I just try to ride them out. They're the worst at work, because I am so used to sitting down and de-stressing with a smoke after a long hard rush, and when that moment comes when I'd usually do that, I feel a little crazy for a minute there. Then I eat some M&Ms.

to the mamas who want to quit but can't. I understand. I can't say that I approve, but I do understand.
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#22 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 03:49 PM
 
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Is this a damned if you do or damned if you don't situation? I don't think so. I've had smokers in my family my whole life, I myself have never touched a cigarette because I watched my grandfather and aunt die from lung cancer as a result of smoking. My own mother smoked during her pregnancies and was told this same line by her OB. My siblings and I were underweight when we were born, my middle brother was born prematurely because of placental abruption and my mother acknowledges that her smoking contributed to it. My older brother and I have been on asthma treatments since we were young children. I have no doubt that my mother's smoking contributed to it. Do I wish she would have stopped during her pregnancies and perhaps avoided the problems that my siblings and I have had? You bet I do. I know quiting is hard, but I think OB's owe it to women to give them the support and resources they need to quit entirely, they need to acknowledge the consequences of smoking during pregnancy and make women aware of what it does to their unborn child.

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#23 of 23 Old 02-28-2008, 04:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by wednesday View Post
You sure don't hear anyone (in the US) saying, "Go ahead and have a glass of wine every day, it's better than being stressed!"

Man I could use a glass of wine.
Really? I hear this frequently. Maybe not EVERYDAY, but every once in a while.
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