I was 15 when I took a drag of my first cigarette. The year was 1994. It was a Newport 100. All the cool kids were doing it, as cliche as that sounds. I thought nothing of it, except that I was also now cool. Never did I imagine that it would begin the longest relationship I’ve ever had. I smoked, on and off, for 11 years. I finally quit, cold turkey, when I was 26. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. That was nine years ago.
I had a mild case of The Relapses a few times over the years, rare as they were. And they only ever consisted of a drag or two of a friend’s smoke. (Save a handful of wild nights.) But it’s since been years that I’ve had a cigarette. Truth be told, my smoking history is one of my most shameful and embarrassing. I always knew it was bad for me. I always knew it was making me older and uglier before my time.
But I was addicted.
Cigarettes today completely disgust me. In fact, I’m that person who yells at people who smoke right in front of doors and entryways, especially if there’s some sort of “no smoking within X amount of feet” sign. But my history allows me to understand just how hard it can be to quit. It also proves that it can be done. Quitting was one—if not the—best decision I’ve ever made for my health.
No one is going to say it’s okay to smoke during pregnancy. There aren’t conflicting reports like there are with drinking while pregnant or eating fish, or exercising, etc. While two glasses of wine a week might not harm your baby, no one is saying that a few cigs aren’t that bad. It’s bad, ladies. Actually, it’s downright terrible to smoke during pregnancy. A Google search will turn up countless reasons why it’s pretty much the worst thing you can do for your baby, but trust me: I’m not here to judge or lecture you.
Instead, I want to say this: I know it’s hard. But you’ve got to and CAN do it. Let these tips on how to quit smoking while pregnant help you.
Kick the Habit! 1 of 11
Click through for 10 helpful tips on how to quit smoking while pregnant!
Admit You’re Addicted 2 of 11
There's a lot of stigma associated with pregnant smokers (and kinda rightfully so, ladies), so many women don't even admit their habit to their doctors. In fact, 20 to 30 percent of pregnant smokers don't tell their medical providers at the first or even second visit that they smoke! It's crucial that you're honest with yourself and your caregivers about your habit.
Commit to Quit 3 of 11
Find Support 4 of 11
Tell everyone you know that you're quitting. This will help make you feel accountable for your decision, and you'll also get A TON of positive encouragement and feedback from those around you. We're all on your side with this one! Reach out to those who support you when the times get tough and the cravings kick in. Join an online support group even!
Cut Back Slowly 5 of 11
Quitting cold turkey is a lot harder than it seems (though not impossible!). Cut back slowly. Schedule your smoking times and places for the two weeks leading up to your quitting "due date," and be sure to lessen your smoking schedule each day bit by bit your addiction will be lessened by the time you hit your quit date!
Use the Patch 6 of 11
Use the patch or any other nicotine replacement option, like gum. These help you with withdrawal when you quit. And while no one is totally sure how nicotine alone affects your baby (it's just one of many toxins in cigarettes), there's no doubt that this method is safer than smoking!
Practice ‘Smoke Holding’ Method 7 of 11
Deliberately holding in the smoke of a cigarette is said to help you quit. To practice this method, inhale the smoke, hold it in your mouth, count slowly, and then blow it out. Apparently, you'll be so grossed out by the awful taste of the cigarette that you won't want as many.
Or, simply hold an unlit cigarette until the urge to light up passes. It might sound and seem ridiculous, but as someone who has done this during my own quitting process, I can tell you it definitely helps!
Try Hypnosis or Acupuncture 8 of 11
Make a ‘Yuck Jar’ 9 of 11
I hadn't ever heard of this before, but according to the American Cancer Society, "Turning a pleasurable smell into one that you're repulsed by can be effective. Get a jar and poke holes in the top; add a cup of warm water and add four or five crushed cigarettes; screw on the top and shake. When a craving strikes, count to 20 slowly, break up the cigarette in the jar, and inhale deeply from the jar. Then, imagine the toxins in your body and your baby's body."
Get Counseling 10 of 11
Quitting smoking while pregnant (and anytime, really!) is a priority. And if you can't do it alone, you should seek the help of a professional smoking-cessation counselor. You're probably thinking, "How in the world can I afford a smoking counselor?" Rest assured! It doesn't have to cost you a dime. The American Cancer Society offers counseling over the phone -- for FREE! Call 'em at 1-877-448-7848.
Be Patient 11 of 11
Be patient and kind to yourself. People everywhere are totally against you as a pregnant smoker, everybody wants to see you successfully quit, and you know how awful smoking is for your unborn baby (and any born kids!). That's a lot of pressure to be under. Remember that you are, in fact, battling an addiction. You might relapse. Don't beat yourself up. Just get back on the smoke-free bandwagon and take it day by day.
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