Giving up Smoking for a Baby.
Louise and Tim were both smokers. In fact Tim (24) described Louise (25) as a "hard-core smoker" as it wasn’t unusual for her to smoke a packet of cigarettes in one night, particularly if they were out meeting friends in a bar.
When Louise became pregnant, they both decided to quit cigarettes for their baby Will. Louise was so determined to kick her 10-year habit that she stopped within three days of finding out that she was pregnant.
"There really has been a significant shift in identity for me, not only becoming a mother but a non-smoker," says Louise, having smoked since she was 15 years old. "For me having a baby and giving up smoking was an enormous lifestyle change."
So how did she do it?
"At times during my pregnancy I became nostalgic for the old me," she admits.
This is her story:
Why I Quit
Before my pregnancy I smoked about 15 cigarettes a day and often as much as a packet when I went out socially. I decided to quit smoking because I didn’t want to harm our baby in any way. I also knew that if I didn’t quit I would subject myself to the disapproving eyes of judgmental onlookers.
Money was also a big incentive for giving up smoking. We knew we wouldn’t have much money after our baby was born. When I was smoking I would spend up to $60.00 a week on cigarettes. I wanted to spend this money on Will’s future and our lives together.
Some people, mostly smokers, believed that it would be more stressful for the baby if I gave up smoking during pregnancy. But I thought bulls**t.
How I Quit
I gave up within three days of discovering that I was pregnant. It was easier than I had thought it would be. I decided to completely abstain from coffee and alcohol in the first trimester and this really helped me to quit due to the association I had between drinking coffee or alcohol and having a cigarette. I also experienced morning sickness during the first trimester and as a consequence my cravings were significantly reduced. Sometimes if was around people who were smoking I would feel really sick, particularly early on during the first trimester.
I had tried to quit heaps of times before but without success. I had always told myself that I would give up if I became pregnant so there was a significant psychological factor driving my motivation. Having a baby was the best motivation.
How I Felt
Once I quit smoking I felt sh*t but ongoing morning sickness was also contributing to my sense of well-being. I was very emotional and very snappy. Once the morning sickness abated I encountered moments where I felt like having a cigarette. On occasions I gave into my resolve, but only ever in a social context and usually when I was having a glass of alcohol. At about 20 weeks I felt our baby kicking really hard after I had had a cigarette or two. Our baby was clearly distressed from the cigarette smoke I had inhaled. This incident was significant in strengthening my resolve not to smoke.
How I Coped
If I felt like a cigarette I would just think about our baby and that would normally be enough to stop me from having one. Sometimes I would have something nice to eat and that would take my mind off wanting a cigarette.
At times I resented not being able to smoke especially if I went to a party where my friends were smoking and drinking. I felt left out. Previous to my pregnancy I was smoking and drinking a lot and out having fun. For me having a baby and giving up smoking was an enormous lifestyle change. At times during my pregnancy I became nostalgic for the old me.
On those odd occasions when I did have a cigarette I received dagger looks from the people who were around me and felt publicly scrutinised. I felt particularly offended and upset when friends criticised me especially when I had been trying so hard to give up completely. I resented feeling like public property and people passing judgement on me, especially my friends.
How I Regard Smoking Now
I don’t want to be a smoker, but sometimes I still feel like having a cigarette when I have a glass of alcohol, usually when I go out. It is difficult because so many of my friends and family smoke.
Smoking the occasional cigarette whilst breastfeeding hasn’t seemed to affect Will. He’s a very healthy and robust baby.
The new policy on restricting smoking in restaurants has been fantastic. We now can go out to the pub and have a meal or meet friends and not have to worry about Will being exposed to passive smoking. We’re very careful about exposing Will to cigarette smoke and take every precaution we can.
How I Feel Now
My complexion is much clearer, my energy levels, vitality and respiratory fitness have increased. I am also much more inclined to participate in exercise than I did prior to becoming pregnant.
There really has been a significant shift in identity for me, not only becoming a mother but a non-smoker. Sometimes throughout my pregnancy I felt lost about who I am now. I guess I just didn’t know who I was. However, now I feel I have a better relationship with my partner’s family, as I know they disapproved of me smoking. Giving up smoking has also had a positive influence on my relationship with Tim, our sex life has improved and kissing is much better!
I am really glad I gave up and if I become pregnant again I know I won’t smoke.