First Trimester (Months 1-3): Time to Quit Smoking
You just found out you're pregnant. You want to do everything you
can to give your baby the best chance to be healthy. There's one
problem: you smoke.
The Benefits of Quitting
You may already know how your baby will benefit if you quit smoking
- The oxygen and food supply to the baby will increase
- Your chance of miscarriage or stillbirth may be lowered
- Your baby is more likely to be born healthy
- The risk of death in infancy, including Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome, is decreased.
Quitting is good for you too, but you already know that.
A Powerful Motivator
Being pregnant can be a powerful motivator for quitting smoking.
But that doesn't mean it's easy. To be successful at quitting, you'll
need a plan of action.
Identify your reasons for quitting.
"Having a healthy baby" is probably the first reason on your list.
Do you have other reasons? Have loved ones been urging you to quit?
Does it bother you to have to take smoke breaks at work? Do you
worry about the damage smoking may be causing to your health?
Whatever your reasons are, write them down and look at them each
day to keep yourself motivated.
Ask your doctor
for help and advice. Studies have shown that patients
whose physicians give them advice about quitting smoking have a
higher success rate than those who quit without their doctor's help.
You and your doctor can explore together the different methods of
quitting. Your doctor may have helped other patients to quit, and
his or her experience can be invaluable to you. You may also want
to ask a nurse practitioner for advice about quitting. These professionals
can have a positive impact on your success.
Get support from
the people around you, especially your partner.
Your partner might be especially motivated to help you quit, so
talk about ways you can deal with this together. If your partner
smokes, maybe he'd be willing to try to quit too. Quitting together
would be a great way to support each other.
Get plenty of exercise. If
your doctor has told you it's safe to exercise, be sure to do so.
Exercise is one way to use up the nervous energy you may feel after
you've quit smoking.
If You Can't Quit, Cut Back
Try to cut back to five cigarettes or fewer per day. This can be
difficult too, but not as difficult as quitting. Smoking only five
a day will greatly improve your chances of having a healthy baby.
Smoke is Harmful to Babies and Children
Smoke irritates the lungs of babies and children. If you've smoked
for a long time, your lungs may be used to it, so it's hard for
you to know how it feels. Fumes from cigarettes paralyze the lining
of fine hairs in the nose, throat and lungs. These hairs sweep foreign
particles out of the chest and help keep lungs clear.
Being exposed to smoke increases a baby's chances of developing
respiratory problems such as:
- Chronic cough
- Chest infections
Quitting smoking now is healthy for your unborn child, but it's
also something you can do to protect your child's health for years
K Reynolds, C Lees, G McCartan, Pregnancy
and Birth: Your Questions Answered. DK Publishing, 1997; A Eisenberg,
What to Expect when You're Expecting, 1996.