Moms quit smoking during pregnancy only to start again

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Smoking is a hard habit to break, there's no doubt about it. In fact, according to USA Today, only 10 to 20% of people who try quitting succeed. But expectant mothers have a reason to quit smoking that goes beyond their own health -- smoking during pregnancy is linked to ectopic pregnancies, placental problems, and low birth weight. And according to the American Cancer Society, those potential health issues are reason enough for many pregnant women to kick the habit, even if only temporarily.

Up to 45% of expectant moms who smoke quit cold turkey, especially notable since nicotine products like patches and gum aren't recommended for pregnant women. That's the good news. The bad news is that the stress of new motherhood often causes those same women to return to their smoking habit after their baby is born -- up to 80% of moms start smoking again within a year of giving birth. Post-partum depression, stress, weight loss, and partners who smoke are often named as reasons women return to the habit.

This pattern is so familiar to me, even as a non-smoker. So often, as mothers, we'll do anything we can to protect the health of our children, but we forget sometimes to take care of our own health as well. I recently watched a friend give up her own cigarette habit cold turkey; I'm not sure what surprised me more, her fierce determination or the strength of her cravings. Quitting takes more than sheer willpower, and health professionals are starting to get the picture that new moms who smoked before pregnancy may need special support after giving birth to make sure they don't fall back onto cigarettes as a coping tool.

Learn more about smoking cessation for moms and dads at Smoke-free.gov.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.