Dear Aunt Juniper,
Now that I have just found out I am pregnant, I *MUST* give up smoking. I have tried so many times before but I always end up with a cigarette as soon as I let my guard down.
I’m really determined this time, but I’m scared too. It doesn’t help that my partner smokes and he shows no sign of giving up any time soon.
What on earth can I do to make sure I stick as a non-smoker this time? My baby is really relying on me!
It’s great that you know that this time is the right time to stop smoking. It’s a shame that your partner is not yet thinking about giving up along with you, though in my experience that might change when you’ve inspired him by giving up yourself. Also remember that this is your journey and you do have the strength, determination and incentive to do this!
Take what happened before as a chance to learn what did and didn’t work. That’s all important information which will help you this time round. So you didn’t succeed before, that’s ok – this time is different!
When I’m coaching clients I first get them to imagine they’re 80 years old… and haven’t stopped smoking. What will that be like for you? What will you see, hear and feel at that age?
Then having made a decision, right now in this moment to stop, imagine what that will be like at 80 as a non-smoker, what will you be seeing, hearing or feeling?
Compare those two futures and know that the choice of either path is in your control, you just need to choose which one to walk down. So which one would you like to have happen?
There are of course the health implications for yourself and the baby (When you smoke, you breathe in over 4,000 chemicals from the cigarette. The smoke goes from your lungs, into your bloodstream and that blood flows to your placenta and umbilical cord. This causes your placenta to not work as well as it should and will affect your baby’s growth and health.
There are the financial implications too. A 20 a day smoker paying £8 a pack will spend £240 a month (30 x £8) or £2,880 a year. So if you’re 3 months pregnant you could have an additional £1,400 saved up before the birth – that’s a lot of the essentials covered!
Plus the time. If a cigarette takes 5 mins to smoke (by the time you go outside, smoke it, check phone, come back in) each day that’s 100 minutes (5 x 20), or 3,000 minutes a month (30 x 100) or 36,000 minutes a year… that’s 600 hours or 25 days!
So not only are you improving your own health and your baby’s health, you are also saving £2,880 a year and getting an extra 25 days back too! Fast forward 10 years and that’s nearly £30,000!!!
Then think about what’s important to you about both stopping smoking and staying as a non-smoker. List these down in two columns, one for what’s important to you and another for what’s important to your family too. List everything down, then step back and ask yourself are those things enough for me to stop, or is there anything else? Once you have your list – put it up on a wall where you’ll see it, or on the fridge or a kitchen cabinet. Use it as a daily reminder as to why you’re doing this. Eventually you won’t need the list!
Next, decide what you’ll be doing with the money you save. I’ve had clients who put £10 in a large whiskey jar each day, and then after a period of time, they break into the jar and treat themselves and the family. Cut out photos of that perfect bedroom suite, baby equipment, holiday, car etc. and put these up as well. And when you’ve achieved one of the goals, replace it with a new one.
Finally, think about what else smoking gives you? We all know that it’s bad; the packets are pretty clear that it’s not a healthy life choice – and yet there is something you are getting from it. Perhaps it’s a sense of calm or relaxation? Or perhaps it’s that you get a brief break from the office or family, or the chance to be social with friends… If you consider what else the activity of smoking is giving you, it will give you a chance to work out how to replace that with a more empowering behaviour which gives you the same result. The belief that calm and relaxation comes from smoking is a common misconception, as usually this is simply because you were breathing more deeply – as you do if you are meditating, or doing an activity such as Yoga/Pilates. Smoking actually increases your pulse rate!
As a coach there are some additional things you can do which will lessen the emotional attachment to those thin chemical soaked tubes of cancerous, life ruining disgustingness. Thinking of them like that will help!
After just 8 hours, the nicotine in your system is halved. After 48 the carbon monoxide is gone along with the nicotine. After 2-12 weeks your circulation is improved. After a year your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker… and after 15 years your risk of heart attack is the same as a non smoker. Here’s even more detail about what happens to your body when you stop.
The sooner you give up, the sooner your body does what it needs to do to reset itself back to that of a non-smoker.
And of course the benefit to your unborn baby and subsequent child lasts not only your lifetime, it lasts theirs too. And my experience is that partners will change their habits pretty quickly too. If you want to inspire change, be the change you want in others.
Live for the future, learn from the past and enjoy the now.
Lots of Love,
Aunt Juniper* xx
*On this occasion, Aunt Juniper was Andy Coley, a Coach, Public Speaker, Hypnotherapist and NLP Trainer who lives in Hither Green (SE13).
And has a real passion for running stop smoking sessions (one single 3-4 hr breakthrough session is all that’s required although he offers a 12 month guarantee). He has a success rate of over 95% with his smoking cessation clients.
He also offers coaching on anything from weight loss (he’s lost over 42kg/6.5 stone himself – that’s what inspired him to become a coach and trainer) to helping people take control again be that from stress, depression, phobias, going back to work from a long break, career/business decisions and more. Many clients see Andy for just 1-2 sessions!
You can contact Andy for a free no obligation chat on 07595 916617 or visit www.reframenlp.com/ to find out more.
MGF Discount Card holders get a 20% discount off any coaching sessions. Sessions can be during the daytime or evening to suit.
FROM THE MUMMY’S GIN FUND FACEBOOK COLLECTIVE:
‘I completely sympathise. I had tried every method going and tried over a dozen times to quit before I found out I was pregnant. It’s also complicated by the fact you cannot take any NRT or drugs like Champix. I gave up when I found out I was pregnant with hypnotherapy. You just need the initial support. The thought of your little bubs and keeping them healthy will keep you going. I haven’t had a cigarette in over 3 yrs.’
‘Allen Carr book worked a treat for me but I read it before I started ttc. I honestly believe if you want to you really can. I stopped well over three years ago now and I know for certain I will never smoke again. The very idea of it makes me feel sick. The book made me realise I was a prisoner to the cigarettes, it really helps you see smoking for what it is. Wishing you the very best of luck.’
‘I had smoked 20 a day for 15 years when I got pregnant and gave up the day after finding out. The key for me was reading a book by Allen Carr. I am convinced it hypnotised me as I spent the first couple of weeks barely sleeping and spouting whole chunks of the book at anyone who would listen!’ But, the stuff in it has totally stuck with me (6 years later). One of his key points is that you are not ‘giving up’ anything but rather releasing yourself from a self-imposed prison. It sounds a bit cheesy but he explains it brilliantly and he is completely right. Not smoking is freedom in so many ways and you lose nothing. I personally found I needed to talk about it – a lot – and probably drove everyone nuts, but it was a huge part of my life and who I was. Stopping was a big thing for me. I didn’t join a group but I can see how this could be useful.’
‘I wish you all the best – good luck. Xx’
‘It is really important that your partner supports you. Obviously ideal if he can stop too but if that isn’t an option, he still needs to understand how important it is to you that you stop and how much you need his support. Tell him how scared you are – it is terrifying stopping smoking at any point because of the risk of failure, but even more so when you are pregnant. He needs to be there for you. I felt like I needed someone to say ‘well done for not smoking today’ every single day for at least 3 months! Might sound silly but I needed that and if you need it too – someone needs to know so they can provide that support. X’
‘I tried Allen Carr, hypnotherapy, patches, sprays, gum, etc. All with varied success. But I can honestly say when I found out I was pregnant, everything changed – I couldn’t imagine putting my child in danger by smoking while pregnant or after. I have to say, your partner really needs to give up too – your baby is counting on him as much as you. Second hand smoke doubles the risk of SIDS. It doesn’t matter if he smokes in a different room – the harmful particles permeate the whole house. Even if he only ever smokes outside, the particles will cling to his clothing and be breathed in by the baby when he holds him. It’s always far easier to quit together for moral support.’
‘I recently watched my dad die of lung cancer, and he couldn’t even breath at towards the end, as his daughter it was so upsetting to see this once strong man laying there before me in this way. I would never want to put my child through the same experience, both my brother and sister have now vowed to give up for that reason.’
‘Just to save some confusion Google Allen Carr – otherwise the comedian will be taking credit for all the success!’
‘I sympathise with you on your partner. Agree that he has to be supportive of you and it would be amazing if he could commit to stopping too, but I think the key to your success is concentrating on you & your baby. I always found if I was trying to diet or cut down on anything I’d always fight with my partner and resent him for not doing it with me. It caused needless arguments. When I realised I was doing it for me and I wanted to, it felt empowering and I concentrated on my goals. He stopped too in the end because he wanted to.’
‘Read ‘The Only Way to quit smoking’ by Allen Carr (not the easy way as that book didn’t work for me). Fantastic book! I reluctantly read it 15 years ago not actually believing that I would give up but I did. He gets inside your head and really makes you realise that you don’t need a cigarette. 15 years on I am still a non smoker! Give it a go, you have nothing to lose! Good luck. X’
‘I tried everything because I must not/shouldn’t smoke. Nothing worked until I did the mental shift to not wanting to be a smoker and went ‘cold turkey’. Then I would say the first 3 days are the hardest whilst the nicotine clears out of your body. I picked days that I wasn’t working and made sure I had plenty to do with my hands – I shredded all my old bills and paperwork, loaded physical CDs onto iTunes and made up my friend’s entire flat pack wardrobe system from IKEA (I think I’m a bit sad as I really enjoy doing that!) 5 years on and still smoke free – I occasionally like the idea of a cigarette but so don’t want to be a smoker, for me first and foremost, but now with the added strength of not wanting to be one for my children’s sake. Good luck.’
‘Speak to your midwife, they will refer you to a smoking cessation advisor, who specializes in working with pregnant women. They will work with you throughout your whole pregnancy and for the first few months after.’
‘I agree with the above- Allen Carr, stop smoking clinics & you have to want to do it. I gave up about 5 years ago on my 3rd attempt & it’s so nice not to be a slave to the cigarettes; planning your day around cig breaks or having to break off a nice meal with friends to pop out in the rain for a fag. I’ll never smoke again. My other half didn’t quit, he did try, but he just made sure he didn’t smoke around me.’
‘The NHS offer a lot of support for people that want to quit, people that feel supported are more likely to quit.’
’The Allen Carr books are made in such a way that he encourages people to smoke until you finish the book. It is alright for those who still have time to spare, but in your case it would be better if it was an immediate thing.’
I would talk to your midwife, it can be very hard to quit, but is nice that you are trying to do that.’
‘I was hypnotised. I had one 40-minute session, paid £220, and walked out of there a non-smoker. Best money I have ever spent. I’m nearly 5 years on, with no desire to ever smoke another cigarette. The best thing was I could be around other smokers without having any cravings x’
‘I went cold turkey (from 20 a day) more than 10 years ago now. Before I had tried pills, reducing gradually, etc. Nothing worked. One day I got a bad cold, gave my half empty last box of cigarette to my neighbour and just stopped. I can imagine that pregnancy is a much stronger incentive than a cold when you want to quit. The first few months were hell! I couldn’t be around smokers so I stopped going to clubs for a while (back then smoking was still allowed everywhere and I was in my early 20s). Until I realised that what I missed the most was the 10 min of a break I’d get with every cigarette. Once I forced myself to start taking short regular breaks, not smoking became much easier! Don’t get me wrong, it’s been over a decade and I still miss it sometimes but I haven’t had one cigarette since! I’ve heard vaping is a good alternative (and when I tried once it seemed like a very similar experience) and apparently it has helped many people quit. But I don’t know if it’s something to take up when pregnant… Could be something for your partner though, at least when home? It’s supposed to be 98% safer.’
‘It is very hard, it’s an addiction!’
‘I tried a couple of times to give up. I have seen both my parents and an uncle die from smoking related cancers. I have a good friend with emphysema who still smoked!! I became pregnant November 2011 and found it easy to give up knowing there was someone inside depending on me. Yet when my little one was a few months old, I went back to the dreaded cigarettes. Now, again I am smoke free through patches, and I’m going to order this Allen Carr book x’
’Get NHS help for certain. You’re 4 x more likely to succeed at quitting for good with them. Don’t just try and do it by yourself.’
’It would be great if your partner would support you and quit too, but remember it only works if you want to do it. If he won’t, there’s no point hassling him to quit with you. Just make sure he knows not to smoke in your presence & to try and use a bit of smelly to help mask the smell of smoke on his clothes. (Or just fabreeze him when he walks through the door). You CAN do it. I quit 5 years ago and live with a partner who still smokes. Good luck!’
I quit while pregnant and then started again few months after birth. Tried to quit but it never worked until my partner and I were fed up with smoking. We quit this year and went to the local pharmacy for the NHS cessation programme. And after all it was not that hard. However, for me it was key that my partner did quit as well which made it much easier and more successful. Patches and other replacements helped so much!
While I was pregnant my partner continued smoking, which I found very difficult and added to the hormonal frustration. It is not easy but possible – and yes you can!
Giving up smoking is like starting exercise: it takes a while to become part of your life. A great way of doing it is making it part of identity: what kind person are you? Tell yourself you’re the kind of person who puts their child’s health before your own needs. The more you buy into this, the more you’ll stick to it. Identity based change is used very successfully for people with all kinds of addiction, so it works. Plus, focus on how badly someone who smokes smells – that was the tipping point for me after 18 years smoking. Last point: every day is a new one, so if you slip up one day, it’s better to start again than giving up. Very final – you’ll be a great mum, cause you’re already trying your best!
Note: These are suggestions from members of Mummy’s Gin Fund based on experience and should not be treated as official advice. Any action taken is at your own risk. Always seek professional advice if you have any questions or concerns about any aspect of your life.
Always consult NHS 111, your GP, health visitor or A&E for professional medical advice.