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Smoking while pregnant?!

By Anonymous March 4, 2010 - 9:22am
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We have a relative who is pregnant and smokes and says she's refusing to stop. Any ideas on organizations that could send pamphlets to her. She doesn't have a computer so I can't raelly e-mail her anything. Thanks.

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I agree---if she has already been "talked to" and openly refuses, then relatives should back away and offer other tactics. Hopefully her health care provider will also talk to her (she may listen more to her doctor or midwife than to family/friends).

Bottom line: You will need to change your goals and expectations for her. Instead of making/helping her quit, you can change your goal to focus on things you can control...yourself! You can have a goal of helping her smoke a little less (see below), or helping her strengthen other coping techniques (is she smokes when she's stressed, bored, frustrated, etc), in hopes that she will diminish the amount she smokes on her own.

What can family & friends do? Here are some suggestions:
1. Those that know her well, observe what her smoking triggers have been in the past. Does she smoke after work, after a stressful day, after being home with the kids all day, if she is happy/mad/sad? Does she smoke all hours of the day/evening, or only after a meal, or only after coffee?
2. Use these triggers to provide support to her, without "announcing" that this is what you are doing. Help her de-stress in other ways. Take her out to places that prohibit smoking (movies, for instance). Help her eat healthy meals, drink lots of water, offer her gum or mints, or go with her to practice a hobby she loves (keeps hands & minds busy).

These tactics will not help her quit by any means, but it can lower the amount she does smoke if she feels that those around her are:
- supporting her unconditionally
- helping her participate in hobbies, classes, activities that promote good health that she enjoys. When you feel good about yourself, it is just a little more difficult to reach for that cigarette (possibly)
- not enabling her smoking. If you do not like it, don't "bug" her about it, but simply remove your attention away from her until she stops smoking (similar to what you would do with a child who is misbehaving, without demeaning her). If she joins you outside and begins to smoke, simply step inside for 5 minutes to "do something real quick" then come back out when she's done smoking. Do not make a big deal about it, but there is some powerful psychology behind pairing a good behavior (not smoking) with a good reinforcer (positive attention).

It's these little positive reinforcement techniques that can begin helping her!

Other ideas:
- Provide her with a prenatal yoga class, that promotes health and breathing exercises
- Take her to a healthy cooking class
- Help her make healthy meals for the family to store in the freezer
- Treat her to a prenatal massage

Again, just ideas...and I would love to hear from others who have additional ideas as well that can provide her with positive support when she is choosing not to smoke. As I said, these techniques in no way will help her quit, but you can feel good in knowing that you are doing something FOR her and her baby, that is positive, encouraging and empowering...and not enabling her poor choices or causing her more stress or anger (thus giving her more "reason" to smoke).

I'm also curious to hear back from the original post: do you know what triggers her to smoke? Is it out of habit, emotional reasons, she experiences awful symptoms when she doesn't smoke, it helps her calm down/relax, it helps her become more energized, it is a social part of her life, her friends smoke... these are great clues into how you can help!

March 4, 2010 - 12:45pm
EmpowHER Guest

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to FORCE someone to stop. I'm sure she knows the risks but just isn't interested in hearing them. It's just too bad that she is pregnant. Does she have a supportive husband? He might be better able to help.
I just know that even when I was a bartender and someone asked for a shot who was pregnant, I can do nothing legally but serve her. It is not for me to say in otherwords, what people choose to do with their bodies.
As awful as smoking is for the baby ( and the mother), bear on mind that women smoked for decades before we found out that it was so bad and most babies were born healthy. This is not much consolation, I'm sure, but maybe you can free yourself from trying to control another's doings as this is a losing battle. People will ONLY quit (and I know this from experience) when they are ready to of their own accord. Nothing someone would've said to me or NO publication would have made me stop before I was ready to.

March 4, 2010 - 10:59am
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