8 Tips You’ll Actually Use To Stop Smoking Before Pregnancy
If you’re starting to think about conceiving, one of the things on your to-do list may be to quit smoking.
Although you need to stop anyway once you’re pregnant, it doesn’t make it any easier. From physical to psychological withdrawal symptoms, the lifestyle change can feel too overwhelming to keep.
In this post, we’ll cover all the tips you need to know to stop smoking. We’ll provide resources and practical advice you can use to get through every day smoke-free.
When Should You Stop Smoking?
If you’re not already pregnant, you should quit smoking before trying to conceive.
The first reason is that smoking can harm your fertility.
Tobacco can damage your eggs and change cervical mucus, affecting how sperm reach the egg. A 2002 study compared women who smoked close to conception and women who never smoked or stopped smoking before the year during conception. The group who continued smoking took significantly longer to become pregnant.
Although many people still manage to conceive while smoking, it can also affect your pregnancy. Tobacco affects your fallopian tubes, giving you an increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo attaches outside the uterus).
If your partner also smokes, try to quit together. A 2012 study found that fathers who smoke before conception may damage the genes of their baby and make them more susceptible to diseases. Nicotine may also affect sperm production and decrease the size of his testicles, increasing the time it takes to get pregnant.
You have two main choices when it comes to quitting: Stopping cold-turkey or slowly cutting down. Cold-turkey requires a lot of willpower while cutting back tends to be one of the least effective methods.
If you’re already pregnant, it’s never too late to stop smoking. However, you should talk to your doctor about how it may have impacted the baby.
8 Tips to Make Quitting Smoking Less Painful
#1 Replace the Habit
Since smoking is a habit, certain events will likely trigger the urge. Make a list of times you usually smoke. This could include:
- Work breaks
- When everyone else goes outside to smoke
- Socially with friends
- When you drink
- At home after a meal
Next, brainstorm habits you can replace smoking with. For example:
- Walking around the block or getting a coffee on your work break
- Taking a few meditative breaths every time you want to smoke at home
- When everyone goes outside to smoke, make a habit of texting the same person each time
#2 Every Time You Crave a Cigarette, Do This…
You’ll probably find yourself reaching for the forbidden cigarette pack only to remember you’re trying to quit. Some people find it easier if they have something else to occupy their hands or mouth. Whenever you feel like lighting up, try:
- Sucking a sucker or hard candy
- Eat a popsicle
- Snack on frozen grapes
- Chewing on a straw
- Chew on carrot sticks
- Chewing gum
- Snapping a rubber band around your wrist
- Playing with a fidget spinner
- Drinking water
- Applying and massaging in hand cream
- Playing a game on your phone
Try a few of the suggestions above to see which one works best for you. Make sure you always have any necessary items on hand for whenever the urge arises (ex. carrying around hand cream or a fidget spinner with you).
#3 Tackle Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
Many people find it difficult to quit smoking because they can’t make it through the physical withdrawal symptoms. The best way to power through it is to anticipate them and have a plan for when they arise.
Symptoms usually peak within 2-3 days and last 2-4 weeks. Here are some tips to manage withdrawal based on your symptom:
- Sweating— Have a small fan nearby. Avoid caffeine and spicy foods. Wear loose clothing and turn your pillow at night if you feel too hot.
- Nausea/dizziness— Stand up slowly and avoid sudden movements. Breathe slowly and deeply when bouts of nausea strike.
- Constipation— Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water and consider taking a probiotic. If constipation still persists, try taking magnesium citrate or an over-the-counter laxative.
- Headaches— Have Advil or another over-the-counter pain reliever on hand.
- Insomnia— Try taking melatonin to help you fall asleep and regulate your sleep.
#4 Try Mindfulness
Psychological withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and irritability may be relieved by practicing mindfulness.
A 2011 study found that mindfulness can help people to stop smoking. Participants were divided into 2 groups: those who used mindfulness and those who didn’t. Only 6% of those who didn’t use a practice were smoke-free four months later. This is compared to 31% for the group who used mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the awareness you have while focusing on the present moment. Mindfulness is often achieved through a variety of practices. To learn more about mindfulness:
- Read our guide about what mindfulness is
- Read 9 really easy mindfulness practices
- Purchase or listen to a book about mindfulness
- Read other tips on using mindfulness to quit smoking
Here are some additional tips to relieve psychological symptoms:
- Exercise (even a brisk walk)
- Getting a massage
- Eliminate or reduce caffeine to reduce anxiety
- Keep yourself busy by trying new hobbies and doing activities with friends
#5 Stop Smoking Programs
There are various programs in the form of books, classes or seminars designed to help people stop smoking.
One of the most highly rated are those created by Allen Carr. His various books include:
- Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking
- Easyway For Women To Stop Smoking
- Stop Smoking with Allen Carr
You can also do a Google search for smoking cessation classes in your area. Some cities have nicotine dependence clinics you can visit for professional help.
#6 Download A Smoking Cessation App
There are apps designed to help you stop smoking, inspire you to hold onto willpower and to track your progress. Here are a few you can check out:
- Crave to Quit— This app was designed by a Yale researcher. It’s a 21-day program that uses mindfulness and provides daily instructions and reminders. A monthly subscription costs $25.
- LIVESTRONG MyQuit Coach— This free app creates a personalized plan for you, whether you want to quit gradually or cold-turkey.
- QuitNow!— This app tracks how long you’ve been smoke-free and your money saved. It also helps you cope with anxiety and allows you to connect with others.
#7 Turn to Social Media for Support
Having support is especially helpful if your family and friends are smokers. You can connect with others to share or get advice and encourage each other using various social media:
- Reddit— This subreddit is dedicated to celebrating your non-smoking victories and sharing advice.
- Quit Smoking: Cessation Nation— Besides games and trackers, you can use this app to connect with others who are trying to quit.
- Follow Facebook pages dedicated to quitting— Such as You Can Quit.
- Facebook Groups— You can use these to connect with others to share stories or get help. A good one to start is Com’s group.
- Instagram pages— Similar to Facebook pages, seeing posts about quitting may help inspire you and put more thoughts about stopping into your head. @smokefreeUs is a good page to start, but you can also find posts and accounts by searching #QuitSmoking or #StopSmoking.
- Stop smoking forums— Forums dedicated to quitting may be the most useful in terms of connecting with a variety of people. Options include ca, Stop Smoking Center and the Quit Train Support Group.
- Mother forums— You can also make posts on mother/pregnancy forums about quitting. Even if there’s not a section dedicated to quitting, many women have struggled to stop and can provide helpful advice. You can start with forums such as those on BabyCenter, What to Expect and The Bump.
#8 Stop Smoking Aids
Aside from the tips above, there are a variety of pharmaceutical aids designed to help you quit:
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)— NRTs give your body some nicotine to help with the cravings. These include patches, gums, nasal sprays, inhalers and lozenges.
- Prescription medication— These medications are meant to help withdrawal symptoms by targeting brain receptors. You can start taking it a few weeks before you actually stop smoking so that the medication is in your system. Popular smoking cessation medications include Chantix and Zyban.
Have you tried to stop smoking? If so, comment any tips you have below. If you know anyone thinking or struggling to quit, share this post to help them, too!
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