The tobacco trap for pregnant women: talking about what prevents expectant mothers from quitting smoking (and how to quit nicotine)

 Let's talk about three myths that pregnant smokers feed themselves and how to make quitting a cigarette less painful.


The tobacco trap for pregnant women: talking about what prevents expectant mothers from quitting smoking (and how to quit nicotine)

The statistics are disappointing: 27% of women of reproductive age smoke. More than half of them do not give up this habit during pregnancy. This indicates a low level of awareness. Expectant mothers know that smoking is harmful, but only a small part of them really represent the threat this addiction poses.  Even for those who are fully aware of the risks of smoking, it can be difficult to quit.


We asked Aleksandr Kraus, director and founder of the Light in Hands charitable foundation, to tell a pregnant woman how to get out of the tobacco trap.


A child in danger: the main consequences of smoking

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 harmful chemicals, together with the main component of tobacco smoke - nicotine, they enter the mother's blood, and therefore into the child's blood. All this has a harmful effect on the developing organism and provokes many complications, including:

  • frozen pregnancy;
  • spontaneous miscarriage;
  • prematurity;
  • premature birth.
Under the influence of nicotine, the vessels of the placenta are narrowed, which leads to oxygen starvation and, as a result, disorders of the nervous system, lag in growth and development. 

The effects of smoking during pregnancy continue to affect the baby for at least several years after birth. Such children lag behind in mental and physical development from their peers, experience difficulties in learning. 

Smoking and pregnancy: debunking myths.

There are many myths surrounding smoking during pregnancy. In order to take the first step towards quitting smoking, it is important for a pregnant woman to be able to distinguish truth from fiction. 

Myth 1. The placenta protects the fetus from nicotine

Many smoking mothers are mistaken in believing that the child is reliably protected from the harmful effects of nicotine by the placenta. But this is not the case.

The placenta is a kind of barrier for many harmful substances, but it is not able to protect the fetus from nicotine. Nicotine enters the mother's bloodstream, and through the placenta and into the baby's blood. 

Myth 2: I'm already pregnant - it's too late to quit

Nicotine and other harmful substances of tobacco smoke are completely removed from a woman's body in only 12 months. Therefore, doctors strongly advise their patients to quit smoking at least three months before conception. Apparently, for this reason, many women believe that if they did not manage to quit smoking before pregnancy, then they can not even try - time is lost. To think so is a big mistake. Quitting smoking will seriously reduce the risks of many diseases for both the mother and the baby. It is important to do this as soon as you know you are pregnant.

Myth 3. It is enough to reduce the number of cigarettes per day

It is widely believed that the harm from smoking can be reduced by reducing the number of cigarettes smoked per day. But, as a rule, this only makes the problem worse. Having lost her usual daily dose of nicotine, a woman tries to compensate for it with deeper puffs: as a result, the amount of nicotine in the body does not decrease. This approach also has the opposite psychological effect. By limiting the number of cigarettes, a woman increases their value to herself. Addiction does not disappear anywhere, but only intensifies. 


What prevents an expectant mother from quitting smoking

Expecting a baby and being aware of all the risks associated with smoking is a great incentive to quit smoking. Why is this often not enough? 
In fact, it is not easy for a pregnant woman to quit smoking for the same reasons as most other smokers. And these reasons are most often not so much physiological as psychological and social. 

Possible causes of female smoking:

  • Stress
Relief Women often use smoking to relieve stress. There is no proven data confirming that nicotine has a calming effect on the body, rather self-hypnosis works.
  • Influence of fashion
In literature, cinema, advertising, an attractive image of a smoking woman is created: independent, free, successful. This makes you want to imitate, to be like.
  • A familiar ritual.
A cigarette over a cup of coffee, when meeting a friend, discussing work issues - this is how a stable relationship is formed between smoking and everyday activities.

Often the difficulties with quitting smoking are associated precisely with the inability to identify and explain to oneself the true reasons for their addiction.

Factors that make the problem worse during pregnancy

1. Condemnation of others
Often women are forced to hide a bad habit from family and friends, fearing condemnation. Without the support of loved ones, they feel one-on-one with a problem and cannot cope with it.

2. Psycho-emotional stress
The expectant mother already has a great burden of responsibility for the child. Added to this are hormonal changes that can lead to increased anxiety, mood swings and even depression. All this makes it very difficult to quit nicotine.

Conditions for Successful Smoking Cessation During Pregnancy

1. Make an informed choice in favor of quitting smoking
For this, it is important to understand the true causes and mechanisms of your addiction. This difficult task is best solved with the help of a professional psychologist.

2 Quitting smoking primarily for your own sake
Quitting smoking for the sake of your baby increases the risk of a return to the habit immediately after the baby is born.

3. Start right away
Do not postpone the decision to quit smoking, do not delay, do not wait for the right moment. This does not work. 


How to make quitting smoking less painful

  • Enlist the support of loved ones
Do not fence yourself off from your husband and other close people. Tell us how difficult it is for you, what doubts and fears bother you. If your husband also smokes, it is good if he will keep you company and quit smoking during pregnancy and lactation. By supporting each other, it will be easier for you to cope with the addiction.
  • Keep yourself busy with something interesting and useful.
There are many activities for pregnant women: yoga, gymnastics in the pool, all kinds of courses. Do what you like and you can often be distracted from the bad habit.
  • Seek help from specialists.
A good psychologist who will individually approach the solution of your problem can help. Group classes, where expectant mothers communicate with each other and adopt positive experiences, have also proven themselves well.

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