Smoking in pregnancy A case study

Jess from London has been smoking since she was 15 years old, 25 years in total. She was pregnant with her second child when she finally kicked the habit. It’s now been six months since she puffed on her last cigarette and she’s not looking back.

What was your main motivation for quitting?

I wanted to quit smoking because of being pregnant. I felt a lot of pressure around me, especially from my husband who’s an ex-smoker. Of course I knew it was bad for the baby, but I was thinking about my health after the pregnancy too.

Had you tried to quit before?

I tried to quit once in my first pregnancy. And I’ve attempted at least another five times on and off over the last nine years. I finally gave up about four months into my second pregnancy.

What helped you quit successfully this time round?

I called the Stop Smoking London helpline which I found out about from my cousin – they knew about it and persuaded me to call.

How did the helpline benefit you?

When I called the phone advisor was so positive. Mostly they told me what I knew already, which reinforced I was making the right decision. Talking had much stronger impact than reading and just thinking about quitting – it made it more real.

After explaining all the options, they put me in touch with my local stop smoking service. From here I was booked to see someone in person every week so I could also collect some free NRT.

The face-to-face advisor was amazingly understanding. When I had a relapse she didn’t judge me and just said ‘you know what, that’s okay, you can just start again’. As simple as that. This really helped keep me on track.

What methods did you choose to help you quit?

As well as weekly meetings I used patches and mouth spray. Another thing that really helped was having friends to call and bounce off when I was feeling flat or tempted – this was my main de-stress mechanism and distraction.

What would you say to other mums in a similar situation?

I’d say your motivation needs to be based on more than your pregnancy - otherwise you’ll probably just start smoking again after your baby is born.

It’s not the end of the world if you have a relapse, you can just try again. Relapsing is part of the process as it helps you understand what to do if faced with a similar temptation in the future.

I’d also say it’s not too late to quit smoking, even if you’re far into your pregnancy like I was. I’d question anyone who uses this as a reason not to bother trying – is this just an easy excuse? Do you or don’t you want to quit?

Are you pregnant and want to quit smoking?

Call the Stop Smoking London helpline on

0300 123 1044

Stop Smoking London also now offer a new 28-day telephone support programme to mums who live in participating London boroughs. Much like the face-to-face support Jess describes here, you’ll receive regular phone calls at a time to suit you to help keep you motivated and stay on track. Ask your advisor for details.

You can also visit our Smoking in Pregnancy webpage and start your quit journey today.

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