You know that smoking isn’t healthy for you or your baby and now you’re committed to kicking the habit. What are your options? Must you quit cold turkey or are there safe quit smoking aids you can use to stop smoking? Quitting smoking while pregnant isn’t easy but there are ways to make it easier. Let’s look at some of the possibilities.
Quitting Without Stop Smoking Aids
If you can do it, quitting without smoking aids is the ideal method for kicking the smoking habit. When you take this approach, you aren’t exposing your baby to medications or nicotine replacements. If you’re quitting without help, you can either stop “cold turkey” or gradually reduce the number of cigarettes you smoking until you’re at zero. Unfortunately, doing it on your own is not as easy as doing it with support. Plus, if you gradually reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke, you’re still exposing your baby to nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes until you’ve completely stopped. On the other hand, if you’re a heavy smoker and you quit all at once, you might experience mood changes due to nicotine withdrawal. If you taper gradually, the nicotine withdrawal symptoms will be less severe.
Nicotine Replacement Products
These days, nicotine replacement products come in a number of forms – patches, chewing gum, and even sprays that give you a dose of nicotine. The purpose of a nicotine replacement product is to deliver the nicotine you would normally be getting from smoking. With this approach, you shouldn’t experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Because you’re getting some nicotine, replacement products make it less challenging to stop smoking. In fact, the success rate with nicotine replacement products is almost double that of quitting on your own. However, you’re still exposing your baby to nicotine. It’s not clear if nicotine is the component of cigarettes that’s linked with pregnancy complications or whether it’s one of the other hundreds of chemicals in cigarette smoke.
Before using a nicotine replacement product, talk to your doctor. Some replacement products may be safer than others. For example, you can buy long-acting patches that deliver sustained nicotine or shorter acting sprays. Using the spray could potentially pose less risk to your baby, although it’s not clear what the risks are of various nicotine products. However, if you quit smoking by using a replacement product, you’re not exposing your baby to the other chemicals in cigarettes.
Bupropion is a medication originally used as to treat depression. It also helps smokers quit smoking. The problem is it’s a medication. Ideally, you want to limit exposure to medications as much as possible during pregnancy. Overall, bupropion is a safe medication but it does have potential side effects and few studies have looked at its effects during pregnancy. Of course, you have to weigh the risks of continuing to smoke with the potential risks of the medications. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons and taking this medication while pregnant.
Quitting cold turkey is difficult. Unfortunately, nicotine replacement products and bupropion have drawbacks too. Another option is to see a counselor, either one that can give you “talk” support or one that offers alternative approaches, like hypnosis, meditation, or acupuncture. Although these approaches don’t work for everyone, they’re drug-free – and that’s a benefit when you’re pregnant.
The Bottom Line
When you quit smoking, you lower the risk of pregnancy complications, including:
- Premature birth
- Delivering a low birth weight baby
- Having a miscarriage or stillbirth
- Other complications involving the placenta
So, think about your options and discuss them with your doctor – but make an effort to quit for you AND your baby.
WebMD. “Alternatives for Giving Up Cigarettes”
ACOG.com. “Smoking Cessation During Pregnancy”