Smoking when pregnant or breastfeeding – where can I get help and support?
Quitting smoking is not always easy, even if you want to. All parents want the best for their children, but making changes in daily life is not a simple matter. Pregnancy and life with a baby bring along many new things to think and worry about. Although quitting smoking is particularly important, it may seem difficult or there might be other considerations. However, here are a few tips that will get you off to a good start. Support is worth seeking and asking for.

Why would I succeed in quitting smoking?

 

  • Have you previously succeeded in quitting smoking? What helped you then? What did you succeed in?
  • Try to think that planning for pregnancy and the pregnancy itself offer you a chance to make a change.
  • Changing the way you think about quitting smoking might help.

 

"I’m trying to think that “I don’t have to smoke” rather than “I can’t smoke anymore”.  "

 

  • Get yourself a good support network. Ask for support from your loved ones – in particular your spouse or a good friend. Think about whether you could make a change together. One incentive to quit smoking could be to think about what you could do with the money you’d save.
  • Talk openly about smoking at the maternity clinic. The staff are there to help you and have been trained to provide support. Suffering from a guilty conscience alone is frustrating. There may also be support groups in your area where you can get help from others in the same situation.
  • Ask the maternity clinic staff to provide you with information and support on products that can be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms of nicotine vary greatly, so do ask for help to manage them.
  • Remember that getting rid of the dependency is only possible if you avoid smoking. Each smoke-free day is a great victory and a step forward.
  • If you have withdrawal symptoms, don’t blame yourself. You will need time to recover. Remember that smoking is more harmful for the baby than the stress caused by the withdrawal symptoms.

 

"I carried mini carrots and chewing gum in my bag in case I wanted to smoke. "

 

  • Some people have benefited from relaxation and mindfulness techniques. Would you benefit from a mindfulness exercise when you feel like smoking? By practising, it will be easier to leave the cravings just at the level of thoughts. Thoughts are not dangerous, and you don’t have to move from idea to action.
  • Usually, the cravings only last for seconds or a few minutes. When you feel like smoking, do something else for a while ‒ call a friend, go for a walk or brush your teeth. You will probably notice that the worst symptoms will soon subside. Get rid of the rest of your cigarettes, so you won’t have them to hand when you feel like smoking. 
  • Take care of your well-being. It will help you stay on track. Sleep and eat well and do things that bring you joy and satisfaction.
  • Reward yourself even for minor achievements.
  • If you relapse, don’t give up. It’s not worth giving up your goal of a smoke-free life just because of a minor setback. Quit smoking as many times as necessary.
  • Encourage yourself. Believe in yourself. You can do it!

 

"Do something with your hands. For me, knitting, crocheting, colouring and solving crosswords and sudokus were helpful. You can also roll a pen or pencil back and forth in your hands."

 

Every cigarette is harmful for the foetus. Remember that every unsmoked cigarette will promote your health and that of your baby. Quitting smoking is important for the baby, the pregnant mother and the rest of the family.

 

Smoke-free surroundings contribute to the child’s healthy growth and development. You should quit smoking as soon as you start planning for pregnancy or hear that you are pregnant. The baby developing in the uterus is not safe from cigarette smoke. The placenta can’t filter the harmful chemicals in it so they enter the foetal bloodstream.

 

Your spouse should also quit smoking, because all exposure to cigarette smoke has an effect on the developing child. When your spouse is not smoking, it will also be easier for you to avoid cigarettes.

 

 

Benefits of quitting smoking for you and your child

 

Before pregnancy:

 

  • Your own health and well-being will improve.
  • Your risk of getting cardiovascular diseases and other ailments will decrease.
  • You can get pregnant more easily. If the father smokes, this will affect the quality of his sperm.

 

During pregnancy:

 

  • The risk of miscarriage and preterm birth will decrease.
  • There will be less morning sickness.
  • You will have more energy and be able to breathe more easily.
  • Your blood pressure and heart rate will be more stable.
  • There will be less risk of bleeding during pregnancy.
  • The head and brain of the foetus will be able to develop normally.
  • The foetus will get the necessary amount of oxygen.
  • The weight of the foetus will develop normally.
  • You will recover sooner from a Caesarean section, if you need one.

 

After the delivery:

 

  • The newborn will be less tearful and irritable.
  • The risk of cot death will decrease.
  • You will have more breast milk.
  • The risk of childhood respiratory tract infections, asthma and allergies will decrease.
  • The risk of learning disabilities and hyperactivity at school age will decrease.
  • The child’s risk of starting smoking in the future will decrease. 

 

Reflect and write down the following things about your smoking. You will understand better what could help you to kick the habit.

 

  • How long have you been smoking? What made you start?
  • In what kinds of situations do you normally smoke? What makes you smoke then? Is there social pressure, or do you feel like you cannot cope without cigarettes?
  • How could you cope in these situations without smoking? Would it help if you wrote down the most difficult situations and one or two support measures for each of them?
  • What are the smoking situations you could give up most easily? Would it help if you avoided them first and continued later with the more difficult ones?
  • Have you ever had a longish period without smoking? How did you succeed then?
  • Have you ever previously thought about quitting smoking or smoking less? What were the reasons then?
  • What should happen now for you to quit smoking?
  • What would help you most to quit smoking?
  • What is your biggest challenge in quitting smoking?

 

Be proud of yourself that you are willing to change your life. Identify good things about yourself and why you are the best possible mother for your child.

 

For guidance, support and advice, call the Stumppi helpline free of charge and visit the Stumppi website (in Finnish). You can also try the Stumppari mobile application (in Finnish).