Help a pregnant chainsmoker quit.
February 1, 2005 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Pregnant chainsmoker. I just found out that there's a baby onboard and will see my doctor next week, I'm probably only 3 weeks. As soon as I knew I put my cigarettes down, but now a few days later I really, really want to smoke. Any suggestions that don't involve nicotine patches that may help me stay off the cancer-sticks?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
SweetTarts worked for me once.
posted by Pressed Rat at 10:44 AM on February 1, 2005

Long-term, look into trying NicStic.
posted by Gyan at 10:44 AM on February 1, 2005

Imagine the baby's face, then concentrate on it when the urge strikes. Worked for me. Oh and congratulations and good luck!
posted by hojoki at 10:52 AM on February 1, 2005

I've recommended this before and I'll do it again, because I was a 15-year pack-and-a-half-a-day smoker, and it helped me quit. Three years ago. And I haven't missed smoking since.

The American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking program. It has modules of information that you read, projects to keep you busy, and message boards that are far better targeted to your problem than what you'll recieve here. This is basically a blueprint created by people with more experience and success at getting folks to quit than anyone else.

Keep in mind that you've got to quit. The nicotine patch or inhalers are only going to prolong your nicotine addiction. They're designed for people who want to delay the effects of withdrawal so they can work on eradicating the habit of smoking. In your situation, however, you're already through a lot of withdrawal. I wouldn't go for the patches, gums, or inhalers now, because they'll set you back into addiction all over again. At 3 days the cravings are at their most intense; it's going to get slowly and steadily easier from here. My advice is this: Look up all the resources you can, and make quitting your number one job over the next few weeks. Nothing is more important -- not your mood, not your job, not how other people feel about it. And, though there are hundreds of tips and tricks that will help (all of which you'll find by hanging around the ALA site), there is no one gimmick that's magically going to make it easy. It takes work. Good thing you have a pretty fantastic motivation.

And if you had any doubt about whether you want to quit, if you think maybe you're too young to worry about being killed by cigarettes...check out the memorials on ALA's Wall of Remembrance.
posted by Miko at 10:57 AM on February 1, 2005

I just quit 2 weeks ago, and I find that drinking a ton of water, constantly chewing sugar free gum, and crunchy food like carrots and pretzels are a help. Also, if you're really nic-fitting, there are some breathing exercises that mimic smoking and have a calming effect...I think Trytostop has some examples as well as other tips to help get you through it.

Hang in there, it gets easier... (and congrats!)
posted by sarahmelah at 10:58 AM on February 1, 2005

When I quit I downloaded the SilkQuit meter. Seeing the hard numbers every morning of how many cigarettes I hadn't smoked and how much money I was saving was a nice reminder that I was making progress every day. At the end of a year (or whatever time you like) you're supposed to take all the money you saved and treat yourself to something nice.

And wow... I just realized that today is my five-year anniversary. Thanks for the reminder, anonymous.
posted by stefanie at 11:28 AM on February 1, 2005

Altoids really helped me when I needed the mouth-feel of a cigarette. The mint-burn approximated a drag, and as a nice side benefit, peppermint tends to soothe the stomach so if you have morning sickness, you can solve two problems at once.
posted by headspace at 11:48 AM on February 1, 2005

I later relapsed for reasons unrelated to the advice I'm going to give, but the following helped me last time I quit. At work, I'd get restless, stressed and/or start having pretty bad cravings after sitting at my desk for a couple hours. I realized that it happened about as often as I'd used to go out for a smoke. Taking a break and walking around the block calmed me down again and helped lessen the craving.
posted by hootch at 12:07 PM on February 1, 2005

I don't have much to add except that you're making the right decision for you and for your baby.

Thanks for helping to restore some mote of faith in humanity.
posted by fenriq at 12:29 PM on February 1, 2005

The brisk walk is a good suggestion. It's a delay tactic. FFS will talk about the four D's --

Delay having a cigarette - just say to yourself "I'll wait another 10 minutes, and then see how I'm doing.
Deep breathing will do a lot of the relaxing that dragging on smokes used to
Drink Water
and, Do anything other than smoke -- such as walk around the block.

FFS also spends time on those miserable, sneaky relapses. People relapse because they don't have a plan in place for times they will be tempted -- and every former smoker will be tempted. So, think hard about it and get a plan. If you do FFS, creating your plan will be part of it.

After 3 years, I still have a card in my wallet that lists my five reasons for wanting to quit, the four Ds (that's how I looked 'em up just now), and the phrase 'The urge to smoke will pass whether you smoke or not.' I've carried it every day since I quit and will carry it as long as it doesn't disintegrate. I've promised to take it out and read through it whenever I have a strong urge to smoke. And it always passes.
posted by Miko at 12:29 PM on February 1, 2005

I'm quiting smoking right now also. I'm 3 weeks clean, but, still get strong cravings. I've been chewing a lot of gum and my wife understands that I'm going to fly off the handle occasionally.

That said, it's also helped me to realize that cravings pass. When you want a cigarette, realize that you can make it 5 minutes without one. You can wait 5 minutes right? By the time that 5 minutes are up, I've generally fogotten about it or moved onto something else.

Get as active as possible. Nothing makes you realize how glad you are you quit than going and doing something active and feeling the positive effects of having quit. I've been working out everyday. I've also been backcountry skiing alot where I have to walk up a couple thousand feet before I get to go down. It's a lot easier now that I don't smoke. Duh.

Avoid all situations in which you normally smoke. I had to quit going out for a while. I also had to stop hanging out with some of my smoking friends for a bit. But, now I'm pretty back to my normal socializing habits.

Finally, realize that whatever enjoyment you get from smoking is nothing compared to the satisfaction you'll get from kicking the habit and knowing that you are doing the best thing for your unborn baby. Put things into perspective.
posted by trbrts at 1:04 PM on February 1, 2005

Pregnancy is a great excuse to quit. Being around smokers or in smoking environments can prompt the craving, and the concern for the health of the baby (on your part and on others') will easily exempt you from having to be around that.

Lots of candy (lollipops were great for me, something to do with my hands since I'm a fidgeter). Indulge yourself in whatever foods you like. Do activities that keep you busy enough to not think of lighting up. If you're that early along you'll probably be getting nausea and specific aversions pretty soon - cigarette smoke smell is one of the aversions you may have, and you might find pretty quickly you'll be more disgusted with than craving the smokes.
posted by Melinika at 1:27 PM on February 1, 2005

It gets better! hang in there! I quit in july last year after 25 years of about two packs a day...after a couple of weeks it wasn't that tough..

and, as mentioned something like lets you track how much money you've saved..

and... just think about the baby everytime you want to light up... you're not a cruel person, you wouldn't do that to the little tyke!
posted by HuronBob at 1:34 PM on February 1, 2005

Just remember that you're risking your child's entire future for that brief feeling of fake happiness.
posted by krisjohn at 1:51 PM on February 1, 2005

and, you might want to bookmark the google link for pregnancy and smoking and read the over 5 million hits once in a while...

ANYONE smart enough to read metafilter will NOT smoke while they are pregnant!
posted by HuronBob at 2:12 PM on February 1, 2005

I quit in June of last year after a 20 year pack-a-day habit and, like trbrts said, the craving passes. You are stronger than your addiction and you must refuse to be a slave to the nasty little things. It's a wonderful feeling to have conquered such cravings...before you know it they will decrease in frequency and intensity. It does get easier. When other people's smoke (and clothes, and hair) starts stinkin', you'll know you've won.
posted by nanu at 2:31 PM on February 1, 2005

Congrats on becoming a new mom!

I'm another recent quitter. I haven't smoked for four weeks. I'm using nicotine gum, cinnamon gum and Zyban. The gum has helped the most. I've also tried to avoid going to bars because of the smokers. I did go to a bar with some people a couple of weeks ago. There at least six people in the group smoking. Within 1/2 hour my eyes were watering and my throat got scratchy. I went home and called one of my non-smoking friends and thanked her for putting up with my smoking all those years.
posted by Juicylicious at 3:08 PM on February 1, 2005

What worked for me (seconding a lot from above):

+ drink water every time you want to smoke. You will find that your body has confused the sensation of being thirsty with the sensation of wanting to smoke. I think it is because smoking produces lots of saliva.

+ avoid as much as possible situations where you know you will want to smoke. Bars are out--don't even try to go into a bar. After-dinner coffee is another big one--skip it.

+ get mad. I read Richard Kliger's "Ashes to Ashes" during the time I quit. It is a great history of the tobacco business that will make you very angry at all of the money you handed over to the merchants of death.

+ keep trying. Almost nobody quits cold turkey. You will very likely fall of the wagon at least once. If you are not flexible and realistic about this, you risk a huge relapse. The monkey on your back (see below) would love to tell you: "I knew you couldn't do it! You smoked a cigarette and now you might as well forget about quitting!"

+ personalize your addiction. You have begun to strangle the addiction that rides around on your back in the form of a monkey, a snake, a parasite, whatever. The withdrawal symptoms you feel are is the thrashing and stumbling of the addiction as it dies. The more it kicks your ass, the more you are killing it. It feels twice as worse as you!

+ For non-pregnant people (sorry anonymous), I heartily recommend nicotine gum. I chewed mountains of the stuff for about the first six months, and then weaned myself down to 4 pieces, then 3, then 2, etc. for the next six months. I was nicotine free after about 1 year. This is way out of line with the directions on the box (which I think give you about 12 weeks), but I don't think I could do it any faster without a relapse.

I have not a single cigarette for about 7 years. I smoked 1-2 packs a day from about age 18 to 25.
posted by Mid at 3:32 PM on February 1, 2005

I quit smoking 3 months ago. I had no trouble, and I'd smoked since I was 11 years old. I'm 29 now. The key, for me, was the DDD technique.

As soon as the need for a smoke hits, you:
  • Delay
  • Do something else
  • Drink water
Delay is the most effective for me. You say to yourself: I will smoke in 10 minutes. In the meantime, you Do something else or Drink water. By the time 10 minutes have passed, the craving is usually gone.
posted by xyzzy at 6:15 PM on February 1, 2005

Every bit of nicotine that enters your body constricts your blood vessels, which accounts for the lousy skin color and narrowed coronary arteries of a smoker. In a pregnant woman, it constricts the vessels of the placenta and denies a little bit of oxygen and nutrients to the baby. This is why smokers have lower birth- weight babies. That's why you must not have another cigarette. You're not trying to quit- you HAVE quit. You have to learn to STAY quit.

In about 7 days all the nicotine will have left your system and you won't have physical cravings. The MIGHTY psychological cravings persist and you must out- trick your own brain. Med and Miko offer excellent advice (it's how I quit a 2 pack a day habit 7 years ago). My biggest strategy was to think about the one big thing that I wanted worse than I wanted a cigarette. In your case, that's obviously a healthy baby. Picture the baby's round pink happy face. Nicotine is your baby's enemy and you can defeat it.

Good luck!
posted by puddinghead at 7:06 PM on February 1, 2005

Juicylicious mentioned Zyban (the name when prescribed as a smoking-cessation) or Wellbutrin (the name when prescribed as an antidepressant) or bupropion hydrochloride (the generic name), and while it's pretty good at taking the edge off the cravings and at making having a cigarette distasteful, it's not been tasted on pregnant women and is therefore contraindicated during pregnancy.
posted by orthogonality at 7:33 PM on February 1, 2005

Previous threads on quitting.
posted by fuzz at 2:43 AM on February 2, 2005

The protocol for Zyban also recommends that you begin taking it 2 weeks before quitting to stabilize its levels in your system. Once someone has already quit, I think it would feel disruptive to start the medication, pregnant or not, because there is an adjustment period. And since its benefits may be minimal, it's probably not worth the risk.
posted by Miko at 6:14 AM on February 2, 2005

I'd just like to further recommend everyone's suggestion about delay. This really is the single best method. Quitting is not a point in time, it is a continuous decision made every day for the rest of your life. You just quit and keep quitting.

Know this: it will get easier. After about three months you'll be on autopilot, just look out for the inevitable relapses. Avoid trigger situations, or better yet, come up with a healthy alternative. Exercise is a fitting replacement... you'll find you actually have the desire to do it once your lung capacity returns.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:49 AM on February 2, 2005

Brush your teeth immediately after eating. Good for you, and helps kill that post-meal craving. Chew sugarless gum. Go out for a walk first thing in the morning to help get your digestive system going while you are experiencing withdrawal.

Stay out of the proximity of cigarettes. Insist that people not smoke near you, do not keep them in the house or go places where people smoke. If you break down and buy a pack, throw them away as soon as you come to your senses.

Kudos for doing the right thing, and don't start again after the pregnancy. Kids are too impressionable.
posted by Manjusri at 11:01 AM on February 2, 2005

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