Tips to Quit Smoking

Are you finding it hard to say goodbye to your cigarette addiction? Are you down to that final cigarette, but you just can't seem to quit? If you are pregnant and finding that quitting smoking is quite a challenge, this article can help you find a way that works. Smoking during pregnancy can have a very negative effect on both your health and the health of your baby, and could result in a number of pregnancy complications. So here are some quitting tips to help you get rid of those cigarettes for good!

Why Quit Smoking During Pregnancy?

It is important to quit smoking because of the numerous health risks that the habit can cause.

Health Risks for Mother:
Cigarettes are very dangerous to the health of pregnant mothers because they contain a variety of different drugs and chemicals. Tobacco, which is used in cigarettes and pipes, is a plant product that contains small levels of the drug nicotine. Nicotine is actually poisonous to humans if it is introduced directly to the bloodstream. Tobacco is also prepared with over 4,000 different chemicals, which mix together in the body to form a sticky tar that envelops the lungs, skin, and hair. Many of these chemicals are cancer-causing, and can contribute to serious health problems or even death.

Health Risks for Baby
Cigarettes are also very dangerous for your unborn baby. Every time you smoke during pregnancy, the chemicals and nicotine that you inhale pass through baby's placenta, blocking him/her from getting any nutrients from your body. Smoking during pregnancy has also been linked to:

  • preterm birth
  • stillbirth
  • low birthweight babies
  • breathing issues in childhood (including asthma)

Choosing Your Quitting Method

In order to quit smoking, it is important to choose a quitting method that is right for you. During pregnancy, there are a number of stop smoking programs that you can choose from:

Cold Turkey
The cold turkey quit method is one of the most popular ways to quit smoking. It involves throwing out all of your cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays and trying not to smoke anymore. The cold turkey method is one of the safest to use during pregnancy: it involves no medications and ensures that cigarette smoke and chemicals stop going into your baby's system immediately. However, the cold turkey method can mean a lot of withdrawal symptoms, including depression, stress, and agitation. Therefore, this method may not be right for you, especially if you were a heavy smoker. The cold turkey method works for 1 in 20 smokers.

Gradual Quit Method
The gradual quit method allows you to reduce the number of cigarettes that you smoke everyday, until, eventually, you aren't smoking anymore. Like the cold turkey method, the gradual quit method is safe for pregnant women: it doesn't involve any additional medications and helps to quickly reduce the amount of nicotine and tar inside your body. However, there may still be affects on the baby since you are still exposing your child to nasty chemicals. Additionally, it is often very difficult to say goodbye to those last lingering cigarettes, so this method may not be effective for you. Typically, about 1 in 20 people are successful quitters with this method.

Nicotine Replacement
The nicotine replacement method makes use of smoking cessation aids that provide your body with supplies of nicotine. Commonly used nicotine replacements include the patch (which is worn on your arm), nicotine gum (which you chew), and nicotine nasal sprays (which you spray into your nose). Researchers aren't exactly sure if these nicotine replacements are safe to use during pregnancy. However, because they only contain one chemical product (nicotine) they are likely much safer for baby than cigarettes are. And smokers who use these nicotine replacements are twice as likely to quit successfully; in fact, 1 in 10 smokers quit using nicotine replacements.

Bupropion is an antidepressant that is often sold under the brand name Zyban and Wellbutrin. Bupropion appears to help smokers quit their habits quite successfully; in fact, 1 in 10 smokers that use bupropion quit. The drug hasn't been appropriately studied during pregnancy and, in large doses, the drug has been known to cause seizures. However, if you are not at risk for seizures, your health care provider may recommend bupropion as an aid for quitting.

Individual and group counseling sessions are available from highly trained social workers and psychologists. These people can teach you how to quit your smoking habit by altering some of your negative thought and behavior patterns. Some counselors also use hypnosis to help smokers quit.

Staying Strong

Quitting smoking during pregnancy is a particularly hard thing to do. However, you can use the health of your baby as motivation to help you quit. If you find yourself slipping back into the habit, remember:

  • Replace Old Habits: If you are finding it impossible not to smoke when you see your favorite coffee shop or bus stop, try to find something else to do. Suck on a hard candy, take up knitting, or find a new place to hang out. Avoid triggers that set off those nicotine cravings. And when you feel a craving coming on, try to wait it out for five minutes. This is enough time to allow the craving to subside.
  • You Can't Do It Alone: Smoking is a very challenging thing to overcome, especially when combined with all of those pregnancy symptoms and discomforts. Don't rely on your willpower alone to get you through. Instead, enlist the support of a friend or family member while you are quitting - they can help you through the tough times while you are trying to stop smoking.
  • It's Never Too Late: Though health care providers recommend that women quit smoking before getting pregnant, many experts feel that it is unlikely that smoking will cause any damage to your child before 14 weeks. However, even if you haven't quit by this point in your pregnancy, it is never too late. Continue working on cutting back on your cigarette use.
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