While it’s best to never smoke or to stop smoking before you become pregnant, the earlier you stop smoking, the healthier you and your baby are likely to be. Smoking is not a habit, it’s an addiction. You can break habits fairly easily, but addictions are harder to kick. To stop smoking, try these suggestions:
1. Convince yourself. The facts are solid—statistically, the chances are high that your pregnancy will be more complicated and your baby less smart and less healthy if you smoke while pregnant.
2. Try stopping cold turkey. The best time to extinguish your last cigarette is the moment your pregnancy test turns positive, and some women do just that. Others find that sudden cigarette withdrawal makes them extremely anxious, and this is not good for baby either. A gradual weaning may make more sense. Some “lucky” women find that a natural aversion to the smell of smoke forces the issue, and the quit.
3. Try goal setting. If you can’t quit on the first day you know you’re pregnant, set a goal for tapering off, say by day 10. Plan a reward for your efforts that day. You might calculate how much money you would save in a year of not smoking and spend it on something special for yourself or your baby.
4. Cut down on how much poison you inhale. As you attempt to stop the smoking addiction, try taking fewer puffs. Or smoke only the first half of the cigarette. (More poisons are concentrated toward the end of the cigarette.) Better still, don’t inhale. This can cut down your nicotine dose by a half.
5. Make it inconvenient to smoke. Buy only one pack at a time. Leave the pack somewhere inconvenient, like in the garage.
6. Fill the void. Think about what led you to start smoking. Once you identify the psychological reasons that may have led to this physiological addiction, the easier it might be for you to stop, or at least find a safer substitute habit.
7. Try healthier substitutes. If you need to hold something and keep your hands busy, try writing, drawing, painting, or working crossword puzzles. If you need something in your mouth, try chewing on carrot or celery sticks, cinnamon sticks or straws, try sucking on ice, healthy popsicles, or hard candy. Nibble on sunflower seeds or granola. Chew gum. If you smoked for relaxation, try listening to soothing music, reading, or paying for an occasional massage. Take a walk. Go swimming. If you smoked for pleasure, indulge yourself in fun at a non-smoking place: go to a movie or a non-smoking restaurant, go shopping, go visit a non-smoking friend.
8. Get professional help. If after two weeks you have made no progress on your own, you might want to contact a local quit-smoking resource or seek professional help to resolve deeper issues.