Sunday, 12 May 2013

A Smoking Issue

Smoking in pregnancy is always seen as a big no-no. I have incubated three babies and with every one, the minute I found out I was up the duff I gave up smoking. I was lucky in the fact that the smell of smoke made me nauseous with the first two so giving up was easy, but with the third, I missed smoking EVERY day. 

So I DO understand that giving up isn't easy and I was very concerned to hear NICE suggesting that midwives should test all women with Carbon Monoxide testers and refer them to smoking cessation classes if it is discovered that they are smoking.

This does concern me on a few levels, but my main concern is that women who do smoke would rather skip their midwife appointments than face the possibility that they will be judged for smoking while pregnant. 

I know that if I HAD carried on smoking while I was pregnant it would've been in secret, and I wouldn't have wanted anyone to know. I would have been ashamed of myself and I would have wanted to avoid a situation where someone would find out..... Say for example a midwife wielding a test kit. 

I am sure that NICE will say that their recommendation for testing women is so that they can HELP them, but I think it could be a step too far and may drive away women who may have pregnancy issues that could have been detected by a midwife. 

What do you think?

Let me know

Big Fashionista x x



  1. I have a six week old baby, and when I was pregnant with her I was asked if I smoked. I said that no, I have never smoked. To my surprise, I was still asked to take a carbon monoxide test. I can't see what this could possibly achieve other than making me feel a total lack of trust between my midwife and myself.

    1. I agree. And what if you DID smoke and knew you would be asked about it and it would be checked! I wonder if some women just wouldn't go to their appointments.

    2. I don't smoke, and I know it's not as serious, but I lied about caffeine. Even though guide lines allow for one cup of filter coffee a day, my midwife made it clear that if I admitted to drinking coffee it was as good as admitting I did not care for my baby's health. I did try to be healthy, and I did make changes, but life does not just stop when you get pregnant and we all live with very different circumstances. I am not perfect, but I tried my best. Same as the vast majority of mothers. All we can do is our best, it is never going to be good enough for everyone to approve, but it's all we can do.

  2. I smoked during both of my pregnancies. I knew that it wasn't right and I did cut down but I was unable to stop completely. Every time I smoked I felt as if I was choking my unborn baby to death but I still carried on. There were not any birth defects and they were not born small or premature but I still feel guilty I smoked. Knowing that the midwife was going to check if I was a smoker or not would definitely have made me think twice about attending my appointments.

  3. I think it's utterly disgusting to smoke during pregnancy! It's selfish and irresponsible! If you plan to have a baby you should plan to quit first! Obviously I'm living in a idealist world but as a ex smoker I know for a fact had I found I was pregnant while being a smoker I would have instantly stopped! You choose to smoke a baby doesn't!

  4. My Mum & Dad smoked through all of the pregnancies and have never stopped smoking around us.
    I think it's really horrid actually, I part of me actually hates them for it. I love them both very much, but if they light up I can feel my blood boil. When they die at a young age and i'm parentless who will me left with the pain? Me.
    Not to mention I was horrifically bullied because I smelt so bad and as all our money went on fags, my shoes always fell off my feet and I had holes in my clothes.

    I don't get angry at all, but this is a topic that really upsets me.

    They're shortened my life from all the inhaling all those chemicals and we all have ashma and breathing problems.
    I know its addicting and what not but surely the love of your children can over come that? Why would you want to hurt your children like that/

    I'm aware i'm very opinionated and as much as I am aware of this I don';t wish to upset anybody, but this is how I feel.

  5. I stopped smoking when I found out I was expecting my 12 year old and didn't start again afterwards as she had developed Asthma and I thought it was my fault for smoking before I realised I was pregnant. My son is 9 weeks old and I hate walking on the same side of the road as a smoker which I know is pathetic but I'm so worried about him breathing in passive smoke just. I do think it's selfish to smoke during pregnancy but I also accept that it's an addiction and as an ex smoker I understand how difficult it is to stop. My mum smoked during her pregnancy with both me and my brother and we have come to no harm!

  6. Like Jess said, I have a 6month old baby, I don't smoke and never have and I was asked to take the carbon monoxide test. We where living with my parents at the time and my step-mum smokes, I was told to suggest to her to go to the smoking cessation.

    My sister on the other hand has had 2 kids and smoked through both pregnancies, she gave up both times but the stress of it had her so stressed that wasn't good for the babies either. What she said was stopping smoking was easy staying stopped was the hard part.

    Neither my step-mum or my sister have ever smoked around any of the kids (or any other children in the family).

  7. I am completely against smoking during pregnancy but I don't think that mandatory carbon monoxide testing is the way forward. I agree with what Jess said about it affecting the trust between a woman and her midwife. And what's next? Mandatory blood alcohol tests to make sure we're not tippling away during pregnancy? Drug tests to make sure we're not shooting up? As usual this country is enforcing big brother type measures to deal with an issue that concerns only a small percentage of women.

    Education can only be the answer. If a woman insists on smoking during her pregnancy then a couple of tests is not going to stop her. But stop treating the rest of us like criminals.

  8. Quite frankly midwives are bad enough already as the pregnancy police. I have a high bmi (32 at my booking in). Was told to loose weight, or at least not gain any. I ignored this totally and have a healthy baby, with a natural vaginal delivery with no instruments.
    Yes I think if you smoke you should cut down, or better still quit, but being forced to take a test which polices ypur behaviour in this way will just break down any trust between you and your midwife.

  9. My mum smoked when she was pregnant with me and now I have asthma. In those days (1970s) I don't think it was well known how damaging smoking is, but now we know the dangers there should be help for pregnant women to stop. I'm not sure midwives testing people is the right way to go about it, though. Missing midwife appointments out of fear isn't the answer, and I don't know what is. It's a tough one.

    I once went to a BBQ and there was a colleague's wife sitting there, 8.5 months pregnant and chain-smoking. I know giving up smoking is hard - nicotine is the most powerful antidepressant known to man - but personally I find it hard to fathom how a person can put themselves ahead of the life of their child so blatantly like that. I hear many people say 'I smoked through my pregnancy and my child is fine!' but illnesses might not be apparent from birth. I didn't start to have asthma symptoms until I was in my teens.

  10. I was a smoker when I got pregnant with my son in 2003. Did I quit? No. I didn't. I swapped to a 'lighter' brand of cigarette and I cut down, but I didn't stop. I thought I was completely addicted and there was no way in hell I could ever stop. Then I thought 'sure loads of smokers have babies, and they're all fine'. When the doctor asked me if I'd stopped, I said I had. If I'd have been tested I'd have run a mile and probably skipped appointments. I'm pregnant again (and nearly 10 years "wiser") - as a non-smoker this time, I gave up almost a year ago. I'd never think of smoking while pregnant ever, ever again. It's wrong and selfish and I'm ashamed I did it, but I do put it down to being utterly thick and in denial for most of the pregnancy. I think since then, attitudes to smoking have changed. I'm not a preachy non-smoker, but I would be disgusted if I saw a pregnant lady smoking. I'd also be disgusted if I saw someone smoking around a child. Pity it didn't disgust me enough to stop back then, but I can't change that. I don't think testing is the way to go - if I wasn't going to give up the fags for the sake of my child, there's no way I'd do it because a stranger made me blow into a bag.

  11. I don't understand why people give up smoking when pregnant and resume smoking when their child is born - smoking around them. This is what my Mum did and I suffered from the effects of second hand smoke for years which was awful but unavoidable because she wouldn't stop. Interested to hear why it's ok to smoke around young children?

    Elspeth xx

  12. I'm an ex smoker who still misses smoking massively, even after a year. If I had found out I was pregnant when I was smoking I would have stopped but the choice would have been mine. Mandatory testing however I believe is wrong. Having a baby is your choice and we don't (yet) live in a society whereby you have to meet certain criteria in order to be allowed to have a child.

  13. Its a very emotive subject, I can understand the reasons for wanting to implement the test and reduce the number of smoking mothers-to-be. Unfortunately the tests will enforce the idea that we live in a 'nannie' state. Its a pity that in this day and age, people still fail to see that smoking kills or is a factor for lung diseases. Its not just mothers to be, at my local hospital, you can see on a daily basis, patients (some of drips) smoking outside the hospital doors, its extremely sad. My dad was a smoker and died of lung cancer way too young. I don't preach to smokers but wish they could have sat with my family during those last few days just to see the reality of what lighting up a cigarette really does.

  14. As a wife of a smoker who has given up serveral times then fell of the wagon again I know from the outside how hard it can be but you need to look at all the facts surrounding the facts and hopefully (in my mind anyway) make the correct decision.
    I'll let you into something I'm a children's centre worker and I have in the last month been asked to put together information on this subject and info has changed: Did you know that now you can use nicotine replacement items (always seek advice before) and that the stress of giving up is less harmful then smoking. The NHS website has all the info.
    I do agree that testing all women would put a minority off but you can voice your objection and the midwives would know if you hadn't been to an appointment or hadn't booked another. If enough ladies say they do not want to be tested this surly would be fed back up the chain. In short talk to your midwife their not two headed monsters (well the one's where I live aren't ) and if they are look to see if you can change to one that you can relate to.

  15. A girl where I work is currently pregnant and still smoking. She says she's stressed and finds it really difficult to give up. I'm an ex-smoker and I get that. Pregnancy though is one of the most compelling reasons to quit.

    Whilst not directly responsible for her, I am in a senior position and have discussed with her immediate superiors my concerns. There's an element of "it's none of my business" or "it's her body and decision" but I look on at her immediate group of smoker friends who happily trot away with her to the secluded smoking shelter in the far corner of the car park and I can't help wondering if we have a duty of care to at least talk to her about it in a non-judgemental, helpful way.

    I'd agree that government or quango interference is not likely to help even though it's well intentioned, but I do increasingly believe we should stop worrying about offending people's often uptight sensibilities and do the decent thing and engage, talk, help and support another human being who is clearly harming her unborn child.

  16. After a couple of pregnancies (and working in healthcare myself) I am absolutely amazed at the manner in which pregnancy is managed compared to other healthcare situations. I'm in my 30's, been through it before and treat patients in my own right yet I am 'told' what I must do, not offered enough info to be able to make an informed decision and the management of my baby and I is seemingly not something to be discussed and decided upon together but to be led by whichever midwife/consultant I am seeing. I feel nervous and anxious standing up to them and I'm hardly wanting to do anything risky or outrageous, I just see it as important that that my researched and informed views are not considered unless I push them forward, which takes a lot of courage! To me, this test is another extension of this approach. That said, as someone who smoked in my teens and twenties I hate it, and I particularly find it hard to accept people will smoke when pregnant, but I realise they will. Somewhere down the line though, we all have to take responsibility for our own choices, I'd just hope those were informed and supported choices.

  17. Luckily I was like you, in fact part of the reason I realised I was pregnant was due to the fact smoke either the practise of or smell of made me vomit. Up until then my husband and I smoked. It was easy for me to stop in that case. And the husband immediately started smoking away from me. I became extremely territorial and if anybody wanted to smoke then they had to do it outside, away from me. It is our responsibility to ensure our children arrive here safe and sound. It is our responsibility to carry them for 9 months and try our best to keep them as healthy as possible. At such a critical stage of a child's growth you cannot possibly argue that smoking will not affect them. The results prove it does.
    I was shocked to the very core when I was in hospital to see nurses help arrange for pregnant mothers to 'nip out for a smoke' I honestly felt disgusted. When my heavily pregnant sister in law sparked up whilst I also was heavily pregnant I saw red. Instead I bit my tongue and left.
    It's like anything, if you're determined to drink alcohol through pregnancy - there are consequences.
    If you're determined to eat unhealthily during pregnancy - there are usually consequences.
    I'm not one of those preaching against smoking people but during pregnancy? No. Just no. It's not big and it's not clever and if you're big enough and old enough to be deciding to bring a life into this world then I think you should use some of that maturity and realise what you could do to your unborn child if you continued to smoke throughout the pregnancy and I believe it can only be a good thing to have health care professionals there to support cessation. If people intentionally miss their appointments then maybe they're not mature enough to be pregnant in the first place as they're obviously not taking the risks seriously enough.

    Sorry lol that ended up an essay - oops!


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