How To Quit Smoking When You’re Pregnant
While working as an OB nurse, I frequently encountered patients who were pregnant and continued to smoke.
It was hard, on one hand, knowing that they were ingesting something that could harm their babies, but I was also fully aware that smoking isn't something that many of them first of all knew was harmful and second of all, was easy to quit. Smoking, like so many things in life, is an addiction and just because you're pregnant doesn't mean you suddenly have superhuman powers to quit all potentially harmful behavior. (Um, hello, coffee while I was pregnant.)
But if you're looking to give up the cigarettes while you're pregnant, or trying to conceive, good for you! It's a healthy, not always easy choice, and here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Be honest. First of all, if you're pregnant or trying to conceive and are actively smoking, please be upfront with your OB care provider. I promise they will not judge you (they have seen it all, swear!), but they need to know the truth. Don't try to hide your smoking or even give them an underestimate of how much you're smoking. Tell them the truth from the beginning and you'll both be able to make a more effective plan together.
- Know that facts. If you're going to smoke while pregnant, you deserve to know exactly what effects smoking has on both you and your baby so you can make a fully informed choice.
- Know that pregnancy can be motivating. If you're feeling discouraged about smoking and wondering if you will ever be able to quit, it may be somewhat helpful to know that actually 46 percent of pregnancy smokers were able to quit with pregnancy as their motivating factor. Just another reason that I know pregnant moms kick serious butt.
- Call your state smoking hotline. If you call 1-800-QUIT NOW, you will get routed to your state's smoking cessation hotline, which will offer you a personalized plan for quitting during pregnancy. You can also visit Smokefree.gov to chat online or via text for support and a quit smoking plan if you'd prefer the non-voice option. And don't we all?
- Make a plan for postpartum. I can't tell you how many women I took care of that gave birth and then literally tried to bolt out of bed to go smoke a cigarette. Postpartum is no joke, you guys, and the stress and sleeplessness can threaten to undo any of your hard work in quitting, so have a plan in place for after the baby is born, whether that be different coping strategies or even a patch to be applied after birth if you're not breastfeeding.
- Know that cold-turkey is an option. It may not work for everyone, but going cold turkey when quitting smoking is absolutely an option. “That's what I did,” says mom Lindsay Pender. “Took the test and just knew it wasn't good for the baby. Never smoked again.”
Are you currently smoking? What do you plan to do to quit while you're pregnant?