Choosing to give birth to a child—like any other choice—leads to more choices down the road. For women who smoke, the choice to kick that habit may come next. At Choices Pregnancy Center, we support women who make such positive choices for their own health and their child’s.
Yet we know that ending an addiction is hard work. So why do so many moms choose to stop smoking?
It’s usually because they know that they’ll be glad they did . . . for many reasons.
Reasons to Quit Smoking
According to the March of Dimes, “When you smoke during pregnancy, chemicals like nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar pass through the placenta and umbilical cord into your baby's bloodstream.”
But what do those chemicals do? The March of Dimes explains, “These chemicals…can lessen the amount of oxygen that your baby gets. This can slow your baby’s growth before birth and can damage your baby’s heart, lungs and brain.”
Whoa! No mother really wants to do that to her baby.
The good news is that as soon as you stop smoking, the benefits start to kick in.
- Your baby immediately starts getting more oxygen. Her heart, brain, and lungs begin developing more normally.
- Your baby’s risk of being born early and underdeveloped starts to drop.
- Your baby becomes more likely to have a healthy birth weight (> 5.5 pounds), and to keep growing at a healthy rate. She is also less likely to become obese in the future, compared to babies of smoking mothers.
- Your baby will be more likely to come home from the hospital with you. Babies who are too small or who need care for health problems may need to stay in the hospital until they are healthy enough to go home.
- Your baby faces less risk of birth defects like cleft lip or cleft palate.
- You face less risk of losing your baby to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) after birth.
For you, the benefits include:
- You will likely live longer to enjoy seeing your baby grow up—and have children of her own. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out, “You will be less likely to develop heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and other smoke-related diseases.”
- You’ll breathe more easily and have more energy. And we know moms need all the energy they can get!
- Your clothes, your hair, and your home will smell better.
- You’ll be better able to enjoy the taste of food.
- You’ll have more money to spend on things you want.
- You’ll feel good about making wise choices for yourself and your child.
Quit Smoking Other People’s Cigarettes, Too
Your own cigarettes aren’t the only smoke-related dangers for you and your child. Second-hand and third-hand smoke can cause problems for pregnant women and their pre-born children, too.
Second-hand smoke (smoke you breathe in when someone else is smoking) contains multiple chemicals known to cause cancer. These endanger your health as well as your child’s as they make their way into your bloodstream, across the placenta, and from there into your baby’s bloodstream.
After your baby is born, the American Pregnancy Association says, being exposed to second-hand smoke (yours or someone else’s) poses a serious health threat. “Babies in contact with second-hand smoke are more likely to develop SIDS. In addition, children exposed to second-hand smoke experience negative effects on their immune system. They are more likely to have ear infections, colds, respiratory ailments, and teeth problems.”
Even the residue left by cigarette smoke on surfaces like skin, clothes, car seats, or household items can be dangerous. This residue, called “third-hand smoke” contains toxins that pass through your skin and eventually into your developing baby’s body. These residues will still be clinging to surfaces when your newborn comes home with you—even if you (or others) smoke outside, away from your baby.
"Third-hand smoke," says the American Pregnancy Association, "is likely to be as harmful as second-hand smoke to your infant, so it is important to keep your child away from areas that contain third-hand smoke residue."
NOTE: If you think e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes, think again. E-cigs still contain nicotine, along with a host of other chemicals. And nicotine, the CDC repeats, “is toxic to developing fetuses and impairs fetal brain and lung development” whether it comes from vaping or cigarette smoking.
So How Does a Woman Quit Smoking?
When you decide to quit smoking, look around for an approach that will work for you. Successful quitters usually all do at least these 3 things:
- Zero in on why they want to quit
- Make a quit plan
- Get support to help them stick to their plan
The people at smokefree.gov understand that women face unique challenges to quitting. Check out their website for helpful tips and resources to help you kick the habit.
One option for Native American women is the culturally-sensitive QuitPlan program. In our area (around Redwood Falls, MN), we can connect women with people recommended by the Lower Sioux Health Care Center who are trained to speak to your traditions while helping you break free from commercial tobacco addiction.
Watch this Native American woman share her story of quitting:
The American Cancer Society also has helpful information, which is worth checking out.
Scroll down this page to find even more resources to help you go smoke-free.
Once you have your plan ready, gather supportive family and friends around to cheer you on. Is there someone you know who wants to quit, too? Offer to be their accountability partner. Won’t it be great when both of you can celebrate your success together?!
Ready to go smoke-free during pregnancy and beyond?
Please consider Choices Pregnancy Center one of your resources.
Find out how we can help you—
by connecting you with smoking cessation programs or individuals,
being here as your support team,
or giving you the life coaching you need
to help you make the choices that make quitting easier.
Text or call us today at 507-637-2534.
Start changing your life—and your child’s!
Mayo Clinic on smoking and pregnancy: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/smoking-and-pregnancy/art-20047021
Center for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/tobaccousepregnancy/index.htm
Help to quit smoking:
Become an EX: https://www.becomeanex.org/decide-to-quit.php
For Native Americans: https://www.quitplan.com/services-to-help/american-indian.html
Suggested apps and other tools for quitting: https://women.smokefree.gov/pregnancy-motherhood/quitting-while-pregnant/quit-for-two