Mark Twain famously said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I have done it a thousand times.” Anyone who does smoke, gets his point. It is very difficult to stop smoking cigarettes. If you or someone you love is planning on getting pregnant and they smoke cigarettes, this would be a perfect time to quit.
Stopping smoking before you get pregnant will increase the chance of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby is a huge motivator to stop smoking.
Nicotine is the reason it is so hard to quit smoking. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Over time, the body becomes physically and psychologically dependent on nicotine.
Be prepared to deal with the fact that you may be facing withdrawal symptoms such as depression, feelings of frustration and anger. Other withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, restlessness, headache, tiredness and an increased appetite are also common when going through any withdrawal.
You probably are already aware smoking during pregnancy puts a woman and her baby at risk for several health problems. Smoking doubles the risk for developing a problem with the placenta as well.
The placenta is what nourishes the baby during pregnancy. The umbilical cord connects the baby to the placenta. The umbilical cord is the baby’s lifeline. The umbilical cord of a non smoking mother is thick, strong and white. The blood vessels in the umbilical cord will give it a bluish aura. The umbilical cord of a smoking mother is not near as robust. It is thinner, the skin of the cord does not have good tension, and it looks yellow.
The March of Dimes has found certain factors make it more likely a person will be successful in quitting cigarettes. Those factors are attempting to quit in the past, having a partner who doesn’t smoke, getting support from family or important people in your life and understanding the harmful effects of smoking.
There are four other factors that seem to help people with quitting smoking: making the decision to quit, setting a quit date, deciding how you are going to deal with withdrawal symptoms, and deciding how to maintain yourself off the cigarettes.
You may not be able to do it on your own. Talk with your doctor about which options might be best for you.
Visit the website Smokefree.gov for information. You can also call 800-784-8669 (QUITNOW) for help.
Even if you already are pregnant, it will be good for your baby if you quit now.
If you are in your first trimester and you stop smoking, you can reduce your risk of miscarriage.
If you are in your second trimester and you stop smoking you decrease the chances of developing placental problems and reduce the risk of preterm labor.
It is never too late to quit smoking during a pregnancy. If you are in your third trimester and quit, your baby has a chance to be born a normal weight.
The air you breathe is the air your baby breathes. Make it the cleanest air possible.
Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital’s Family BirthPlace. Her column appears every other week in Healthy Living in the Bradenton Herald. Contact her at [email protected]