by Sinit Aatifa
When you smoke, you increase your risk of future health problems such as heart disease, cancer and other lung problems. Your baby's health is also affected by your smoking.
Pregnancy's a great time to stop smoking. You'll feel better and have more energy. If you're part of the "thinking of conceiving" crowd, it's even a better time.
Smoking's been linked to fertility issues, pregnancy complications and problems for your newborn. There's no time like today to kick the habit!
How Smoking Affects Women
• Smoking makes it harder to get pregnant.
• Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than other women to have a miscarriage.
• Smoking increases your risk of a placenta problem. The placenta can separate from the womb too early, causing bleeding, which is dangerous to the mother and baby.
• Smoking during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born too early or to have low birth weight.
• Smoking during and after pregnancy increases the chance your baby could die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
• If you smoke during pregnancy, your baby could have certain birth defects, like a cleft lip or cleft palate. Your baby is more prone to future health problems like obesity and diabetes.
How Many Pregnant Women Smoke?
According to the 2008 Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System data from 29 states, 13 percent of women reported smoking during the third trimester.
Of the women who smoked three months before pregnancy, 45 percent quit during pregnancy. 50 percent of women who quit smoking during pregnancy started smoking within six months of the baby's birth.
A recent study found that almost 22 percent of pregnant white women ages 15 to 44 smoked cigarettes within the prior 30 days, compared to just over 14 percent of pregnant black women and 6.5 percent of hispanic women.
In the U.S., 88 million nonsmokers breathe and touch second-hand smoke. Almost 32 million children aged 3 to 19 years, are exposed to other people's cigarette smoke.
• Pregnant women who breathe other people's cigarette smoke are more likely to have a baby who weighs less than if they were not exposed to cigarette smoke.
• Babies who are around cigarette smoke are more likely to have ear infections and more frequent asthma attacks than babies who aren't exposed.
• Babies exposed to cigarette smoke are more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) than infants who aren't.
Quit Smoking Guide
Today's the perfect day to start your smoke-free life. You might be using a support program or medicine to help you quit. The more support you get, the more likely you'll quit for good.
Before You Stop
List the reasons and benefits of quitting. You could lower your risk of future health problems, have more energy and have money to spend on yourself or baby gear.
Your baby benefits by receiving more nutrients and oxygen. No smoke exposure also increases the chance your baby will go home with you from the hospital.
Make a list of your triggers. Change routines so you won't reach for a cigarette. Go for an after dinner walk or sit down with a book and a snack or a glass of milk.
Have a strong support system. Join a local group or check if your insurance company has a wellness plan.
Set a quit date. Commit to a date and stick to it. It's amazing how we can affect our own will.
On the Big Day
Keep busy: Exercise, go to a movie, take a long walk or clean a closet.
• Spend your free time in places where smoking isn't allowed, like museums, libraries and malls.
• Hold something in your hands. A pencil, paper clip, marble or crochet hook might help if you miss holding a cigarette.
• Try a toothpick, a cinnamon stick, gum or carrot sticks if you miss having something in your mouth.
• Drink a lot of water. For now, you might want to avoid alcohol. It can trigger the impulse to smoke.
Stay away from temptation: Do you always smoke after a meal? Get up and brush your teeth or go for a walk. If you usually smoke while driving, try taking the bus or train to work. If you must drive, listen to a new radio station or take a new route.
Do you connect an activity with smoking? Stay away from it today and for the next few weeks. Your list might include:
• Watching a favorite show
• Sitting on the porch while dinner cooks
• A morning phone call with your best friend
Try to hang out with non-smokers. If you'll be at a party and think you'll be tempted to smoke, find a friend or two that don't and spend time with them.
Manage Your Cravings
The urge to smoke comes and goes. Try to wait it out. If it's hitting especially hard, you can try these tips:
• Wash your hands, do the dishes or take a shower.
• Relax with deep breathing or imagery.
• Go outside or into a different room.
• Remember the instant benefits of quitting.
• Journal and write down how you feel and what helps.
Today is the first step to wellness. It's time to be confident and proud of yourself for taking an active roll in your life. Congratulations!
What helped you quit?