How I quit smoking when pregnant

Melissa didn't think twice about quitting smoking until she got pregnant. She tells The Mix about stress, temptation and how she managed to ditch the cigarettes.

True Stories

pregnant on bench

"I had to do what was right for my baby."

I started smoking at school when I was 14. Everyone seemed to be smoking so I eventually got hooked. I smoked about 10 a day from then on until I was 19. It was a big part of my life; I couldn’t survive without a fag.

I’d never tried to stop before. It just wasn’t at the front of my mind and smoking kept me happy. Then I became pregnant and it changed how I felt. It affects your baby and I wanted to do the natural thing. I didn’t want the baby to be around smoke.

At first, quitting was very difficult. I managed for a few days, but then my brother stressed me out and I thought ‘Sod it, I’ll have a fag.’ So I started again. But a couple of weeks later, I stopped for good. My midwife told me your cravings stop after the first four days. Mentally they don’t stop, but physically they do. And if you think forward after that point, you can do it.

The worst thing was the stress. I was very argumentative with everyone. Sometimes I tried not to go out and stayed in my room to avoid people. If I did go out and saw someone smoking I’d shudder. Mealtimes were particularly hard as me and my mum always used to have a cigarette afterwards. It’s those times that get you. I’d sit there looking at a cigarette and think “No, I’m not going to do it.” I was challenging myself.

I ate a lot more while I was quitting. One great thing is you can taste the difference in food. McDonald’s was different. I don’t know what it was, but the chips were a lot tastier.

Doing it by myself

I was living with my mum and she tried to quit too, but both of us in the house getting stressed with each other was not good. Mum took tablets to help her, whereas I did it by myself. I tried all sorts of things but they all irritated me. I couldn’t be doing with the stickers on my arm, the gum tastes horrible and I didn’t really fancy the inhaler. I kept myself busy and kept my mind off it. If you’re bored, you’ll smoke. I was at college studying my Diploma in Horse Management, so I was there a lot of the time which was useful.

The cravings stopped after about two weeks. After that when you go near someone who smokes it smells horrific, like an ashtray. I wasn’t tempted to smoke again after that – it put me off.

I didn’t smoke for about a year and a half. In the months after I had my baby my friends would pop up to see her and I didn’t leave the house much. But when I went back to going out with my mates again it was different. Alcohol is a big factor – being drunk and around smokers made me try it again. At first it was just a little puff, but then it turned into a quarter of a fag, then half a fag and then a full packet. It was tricky because I had to keep it quiet from everybody, like my boyfriend who didn’t smoke. I hid it for a couple of months with deodorant and chewing gun and all that.

Smoke free house

I get through about 10 or 15 a day now, but I only ever smoke outside. I still feel strongly about not smoking around my baby; she’s never seen a fag in her life. She wouldn’t even know I do it. I’ve moved out from my mum’s and I’ve got a sticker on my front door saying ‘smoke free house’, because it is. I might be a smoker living here, but I smoke outside.

I’d consider quitting again, just not at the moment. Needing to smoke is definitely to do with what’s going on in your life and the boyfriend is now an ex which is very stressful.

Being a smoker feels different to being a non-smoker. You can breathe more and your food tastes better. My advice to people wanting to quit would be to think positively. If someone’s given up and they’re tempted to smoke again, I always say ‘go and stand next to someone who has a fag when they get off the bus.’ They stink. Just remember that smell, and think, “Yuck, that’s what I smell like if I smoke.”

I’m still really proud I gave up for my baby. It’s made a different to her health. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. It wasn’t just the baby – what really helped was that I put my mind to it. When I put my mind to something, I do it.

Photo of pregnant by Shutterstock

 

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By Louise Ridley

Updated on 29-Sep-2015