8 Tips To Break The Smoking Habit During Pregnancy

Mar 10, 2011 1 Comment by

Congratulations—you’ve decided to give your baby a smoke-free environment, in utero and out. Making that commitment is the first and most important step. Realistically, however—as you probably already know if you’ve tried quitting before—it’s not the most difficult step. Actually quitting is. But with a lot of determination and a little help from the following tips, you can do it.

1. Identify your motivations for quitting. When you’re pregnant, that’s easy. You’ve never had a more motivating reason.

2. Choose your method of withdrawal. Do you want to go cold turkey or taper off? Either way, pick a “last day” that isn’t far off. Plan a full schedule of fun and distracting activities for that date—those you don’t associate with smoking (in places, preferably, that don’t allow smoking).

3. Identify your motivations for smoking. For example, do you smoke for pleasure, stimulation, or relaxation? To reduce tension or frustration? To have something in your hand or mouth? To satisfy your craving? Perhaps you smoke out of habit, lighting up without thinking about it. Once you understand your motivations, it’ll help you find substitutes:

  • If you smoke mainly to keep your hands busy, try playing with a pencil, beads, or a straw. Knit, play Sudoku on the computer, squeeze a stress ball, catch up on your e-mail, play video games, paint, doodle, do a crossword puzzle—anything that might make you forget to reach for a cigarette.
  • If you smoke for oral gratification, try a substitute: a toothpick, gum, raw vegetables, popcorn, a lollipop or hard candy.
  • If you smoke for stimulation, try to get your lift from a brisk walk, a workout session at the gym, an absorbing book, a long chat with a friend.
  • If you smoke to reduce tension and relax, try exercise instead. Or relaxation techniques. Or listening to soothing music. Or a long walk. Or a massage. Or making love.
  • If you smoke for pleasure, seek pleasure in other pursuits, preferably in no-smoke situations. Go to a movie, visit baby boutiques, tour a favorite museum, attend a concert or a play, have dinner with a friend who’s a nonsmoker. Or try something more active, like a prenatal fitness class.
  • If you smoke out of habit, avoid the settings in which you habitually smoke and friends who smoke; frequent places with no-smoking rules instead.
  • If you associate smoking with a particular beverage, food, or a meal, avoid the food or beverage, or eat the meal in a different location.
  • When you feel the urge to smoke, take several deep breaths with a pause between each. Hold the last breaths while you strike a match. Exhale slowly, blowing out the match. Pretend it was a cigarette and crush it out.

4. If you do slip up and have a cigarette, put it behing you. Don’t give a second thought to the cigratte you smoked—think instead about all the ones you passed up. Get right back on your program, knowing that every cigarette you don’t smoke is going to help your baby.

5. Try to look at smoking as nonnegotiable. When you were a smoker, you couldn’t smoke in theaters, subways, at the malls, in many restaurants, and probably at your workplace. That was that. Now try telling yourself that you can’t smoke, period—and that’s that.

6. Let your baby inspire you. Post copies of your baby’s ultrasound picture everywhere you might be tempted to smoke. No ultrasound yet? Post pictures of adorable babies that you’v cut out from magazines.

7. Get some support. There’s plenty of help for smokers who want to quit. Look into hypnosis, acupuncture, and relaxtion techniques, which have made quitters out of many smokers. If you’re comfortable with a group approach to quitting, consider programs run by Nicotine Anonymous, the American Lung Association, he American Cancer Society, and SmokEnders, which have helped the millions of smokers break the habit. Or seek suppor online from other pregnant women who are trying to call it quits.

8. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Nicotine is a powerful drug, and giving it up isn’t easy, but it can be done. Many smokers don’t succeed the first time they try quitting, yet they do if they keep trying. So don’t beat yourself up when you slip up—pat yourself on the back for your efforts, and then up your efforts. You can do it!

Note: Using nicotine patches, lozenges, or gums during pregnancy is risky and not recommended.

Quitting smoking for the sake of their unborn child should be foremost in the minds of pregnant women. They can do it cold turkey, by joining a substance abuse rehab program, or through the use of smoking cessation aids.

Conception, From Conception To Delivery

One Response to “8 Tips To Break The Smoking Habit During Pregnancy”

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