Many women who quit smoking before or during their pregnancy start smoking again after their baby is born. But quitting has benefits for you and your baby that last longer than the nine months you are pregnant.
Why Some Moms Return to Smoking
Most new moms who quit while they’re pregnant will start smoking again within their baby’s first year of life. This is because having a newborn and adjusting to a new routine can be stressful. You are more tired than usual and getting a lot of opinions and advice from others. Stress and emotional triggers can cause new moms to start smoking again. Here are some other reasons why new moms may relapse:
- Quitting was temporary. Some women plan to start smoking after their baby is born. They may think their baby is only at risk while they are pregnant. But even if they smoke away from their baby, chemicals from the smoke can stay in rooms and on clothing.
- Thinking that smoking helps with stress. Having a new baby is stressful, but smoking will not help. Whatever is causing the stress will still be there. There are better ways for new moms to deal with stress that are healthier for you and your baby.
- Wanting to regain their pre-pregnancy self. For some new moms, being a smoker was part of who they were before they got pregnant. After having a baby, they might start smoking again because they miss this part of themselves. Imagining your life as a nonsmoker will help you stay smokefree and will be healthier for you and your baby.
- Returning to old social circles. Some activities and places might remind new moms of smoking. Friends who didn’t smoke around you when you were pregnant may start again and might even offer you a cigarette. Planning on how to deal with others’ smoking can help you stay smokefree.
- Having a partner who smokes. When a partner smokes, the smell of cigarettes, wanting to find ways to be together, and other reminders can make a new mom want to start again. Relationships can play a big role in helping you stay quit.
Fact: Parents who smoke are more likely to have children that will smoke.
Make Your Quit Last for Good
Smoking exposes your baby to dangerous secondhand smoke. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. It harms a baby’s health and development, and over time it can cause disease and even death. Staying smokefree after delivery will protect you and your child’s health. A healthy baby is a happy baby, which means you can get more sleep, and have more time with your partner and for yourself. Children who grow up in nonsmoking homes are less likely to become smokers, so you will be setting a good example.
There are ways you can stay smokefree after your pregnancy:
- Tell friends and family that you’re planning to stay quit after you give birth.
- Create smokefree zones in your house and car.
- See if nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is right for you.
- Sign up for a text message program for 24/7 tips, advice, and encouragement.
- Download the QuitGuide or quitSTART apps to track where and when you need extra help to stay smokefree.
- Chat with a National Cancer Institute information specialist for free.
- Call a quitline and speak with a trained counselor.