Women smokers who become pregnant find themselves needing to learn how to stop smoking while pregnant, which can be challenging. Most smokers have tried to quit smoking a few times, so women who are pregnant and want to quit often have the memories of their previous attempts to quit adding to their perception that quitting is difficult. Fortunately, there are options available to help women who are pregnant quit smoking.
The Benefits of Quitting Smoking
It's important to realize that quitting provides immediate benefits. No matter where you are in your pregnancy, both you and your baby will benefit if you quit. Your body starts to benefit from quitting within minutes.
After about twenty minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop to normal levels, which is helpful to you and your baby.
In about twelve hours, the level of carbon monoxide in your bloodstream will drop. This allows the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream to increase, directly benefitting your baby by providing increased oxygen.
Within a day, the risk of a heart attack starts to drop. That risk level is almost double for smokers over non-smokers, and getting through your first day without a cigarette starts the repair process in your body, resulting in a reduced level of risk to you and your baby.
After two or three days, the nerve endings in your tongue and nostrils start rebuilding. This results in an improved sense of taste and smell which will continue to improve over the coming days. Foods will taste better and you'll notice that aromas seem to be more powerful.
In three days the nicotine from smoking will be flushed out of your system. This may cause the withdrawal symptoms such as headaches or nausea to peak at this point. Take comfort that those symptoms will be reduced in the coming days as you continue to resist the temptation to smoke.
Two to three weeks after you quit you'll be able to breathe easier, and simple things like walking from your car to a store will take less effort. This is a result of improved lung function as your lungs have started to heal themselves.
The benefits continue to build for years after you quit smoking. Sometimes your body will no longer suffer from any ill effects of smoking and your risk of heart disease or cancer will be reduced to the same level as a non-smoker.
Things to Avoid If You're Pregnant and Trying to Quit Smoking
Of course, if you're trying to quit smoking while you're pregnant, your options for aids and medications to help you quit are reduced. Many of the quit smoking aids carry specific warnings about use during pregnancy or while nursing. Among the risks are reduced fetal weight and increased auditory startle response. In animal studies, reduced fertility of the offspring has been observed with some of the medical treatments that are available.
While nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products may not carry warnings about use during pregnancy, it is important to recognize that nicotine causes elevated heart rate and blood pressure in the mother and an elevated heart rate of the fetus. It does not make any difference whether the nicotine comes from an NRT product or from cigarettes – the effect is the same.
So most women who are pregnant and wanting to quit smoking come to the conclusion, either on their own or with the advice of their doctor, that using medications like Chantix or Zyban is simply not an option. There are specific warnings about using these medications during pregnancy that apply to both the mother and the baby.
A Quick Solution is Best
Naturally, if you're pregnant and trying to quit you want to quit as quickly as possible. After all, you only have a limited amount of time before your baby arrives. You want your baby to be as healthy as possible so quitting as soon as you can is important since the less time you're smoking, the better for your baby.
But you also want to have a good chance of quitting for good. As many smokers find out, quitting cold turkey may be fast, but the chances of success are pretty low. Many studies find there is less than a 10% chance of success with the cold turkey approach.
So look for an option that is fairly quick. NRT and medical options can take 12 weeks or longer, which means you're already into your second trimester by the time you end up quitting if you start the quitting process at the beginning of your pregnancy.
Address Both the Physical and Psychological Addiction
The challenge with quitting is that there is both a physical addiction and a mental or psychological addiction. A preferred method of quitting will help you address both of these addictions and will seek to help you quit quickly with a good chance of successfully quitting forever.