Nicotine free in time for baby
Getting rid of the cigarette habit is one of the hardest battles that many of us will ever face. Particularly for those of us who are trying for a new addition to the family. It’s a proven fact that the following happens when you smoke while pregnant:
- Increases the babies heart rate
- Increases the odds of miscarriage and stillbirth
- Lowers the amount of oxygen to your baby
- Increases the odds of your baby being born prematurely
So with such a precious life to care for, what can you do to quit the habit? Here’s our take on 3 of the best methods out there to stop smoking and just quite how successful they are. But first what’s the benefits to you for stopping smoking:
- You are WAYYY more kissable – No more smelly breath
- Your home is a lot more sociable – No more stinking house or clothes
- Healthier skin – Boost of oxygen getting to your organs and cells
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved fitness – your lungs will be clearer
- Reduced risk of Cancer
- Reduced risk of heart attack… we can go on, there’s many
Method 1: Cold Turkey
Cold Turkey…such a strange phrase – it means just stopping altogether. No more cigarettes, no more of any of the negative near term issues that are associated with them and more money in your pocket. Cold Turkey the phrase comes from the goosebumps that opioid addicts get when they see a drop in their bodies opiates level. Shivering etc – these make reference to the look of a plucked Turkey. Cold Chicken would probably be just as accurate.
Why go ‘Cold Turkey’
Statistics show that those who abstain fully from smoking and take on a ‘Rocky’ mentality experience a 20-30% success rate, with numbers staying fairly similar regardless of the number of attempts. The beauty of this simple in theory approach is that you do not require a crutch afterwards. Once you beat the habit, you beat the habit.
How can you improve your chances of success?
Firstly, don’t beat yourself up if you crack. Just start again the next day. Quitting doesn’t need to start on January 1st, or a Monday. Getting back to quitting can start the very next morning.
Have an accountability mirror. Taking a leaf out of American motivational hero David Goggins, he would write the phrase “Accountability Mirror” on one in his house he would see daily, and each night or moment he was close to cracking, he would look himself in the eye and remind him what he wanted to achieve and why. David would look at himself and ask “Am I being honest to myself if I say I had a positive day.”
You can find out about David Goggins here. He did a 100mile race with no training and no support team. Needless to say, he has broken afterwards, but this is a man who has passed training for the Navy Seals and the US Army Rangers, yet was over 350 lbs in his early 20s. He swapped burgers for salads and set himself on a pass of personal greatness.
Allen Carr is a famous quit-smoking motivational speaker who is worth looking up too. Not to be confused with the UK comedian Alan Carr. Allen, has helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world become smoke-free.
Method 2: Nicotine Patches
Nicotine patches are essentially plasters infused with liquid nicotine, which is absorbed through the skin. They come in varying strengths and can be placed under the clothing to maintain your nicotine dependency during the day. In a US National Institute of Health report, they cited that nicotine patches led to a 19% success rate for quitting smoking.
What are the Pros of Nicotine Patches:
- Immediate removal of the downsides of inhaling combustible cigarettes
- Smoke-free – smell free
- High strength to work to all high dependency habits
- Works to break the oral fixation habit
But what are the downsides of nicotine patches:
- They can often provide more nicotine than users received through smoking, which can lead to a subconscious increase in dependency
- Lower success rate than cold turkey
- They don’t replicate the psychological hand to mouth addiction which is more ritual based
- Not recommended if pregnant or breastfeeding
- Can cause skin allergy irritation
- Has been linked to nausea, diarrhoea, difficulty sleeping, swelling on the patch side and vivid dreams
Often addictions are ritual in the foundation. This is has been said for cocaine addition too. The process of readying oneself to take it, is considered to be 90% of the habit. With smoking, the hand to mouth oral fixation is part of this ritual. Some people pop a chewing gum in their mouth or chew on a pen, or unlit cigarette to fulfil that desire instead. Patches do not meet the lost distraction but important for those who are pregnant or on a course of IVF or preparing to try for children, patches are not often recommended as the nicotine levels can raise one’s heart rate and blood pressure. While they have a myriad of other advantages over continuing smoking, it may be that you need to find a nicotine-free option. This leads us to method 3, if the cold turkey isn’t practical.
Method 3: Electronic Cigarettes
Vaping, e-cigs, or electronic cigarettes are all the same thing. They essentially deliver a dose of vaporised e-liquid via a heating element powered by a battery. They come in a range of shapes, sizes, colours and power options, but by and large perform the same task. Albeit with differing abilities. Many use ecigs to replace their nicotine habit from smoking and data suggests they offer an effective ‘Harm Reduction’ method.
University College London in 2019 suggests that vaping can double the quit smoking success rates and this may be in large part as while an addiction to cigarettes is due to the nicotine, but it isn’t the nicotine that is fatal to humans. It’s the carcinogens from the combustion of tobacco. In short cigarette smokers, smoke to get nicotine, so if you can remove the Carbon Monoxide, the Tar and the other thousands of cancer-causing chemicals but still get the nicotine, you could be on to a winner and that’s the theory behind E-cigs.
An incredibly interesting article in 1994 from the Independent suggested the best method to help people quit smoking would be an artificial cigarette, that mimicked the cigarette but without the bad stuff. The report centred on a Professor Russell from the Institute of Psychiatry Health Behaviour Unit in London, who said:
‘I believe sensory factors become rewarding primarily because they are associated with the intake of nicotine. But there is certainly a biological predisposition to conditioning behaviours that involve the hand and mouth.’
He went on to suggest the following should be developed:
“…an alternative to smoking that provides nicotine and that feels like a cigarette. To reduce smoking’s toll of death and disability, such a device would have to produce negligible amounts of tar (which leads to lung cancer) and substantially less carbon monoxide (which contributes to heart disease), and ideally none of the noxious gases responsible for chronic bronchitis.”
What Professor Russell had hit on, was what we now call the electronic cigarette. Now recent media has drawn negative attention to them, suggesting ‘vaping’ is responsible for a spate of deaths. But we now know that this is because of a misuse of the vape device by inhaling THC or CBD oil.
While some people call eliquids – oils, they aren’t actually oils. Oils are fats and not soluble in water, while proper eliquids are. This means, when you inhale an oil it builds up fatty layers in your lungs and leads rapidly developing breathing problems. E-liquid, on the other hand, is NOT made from fats or oils and is easily broken down in the body. In short, if you choose to look at vaping, do not buy cannabis oils for that and instead buy only eliquids from credible brands. BUT – if you are pregnant or planning for motherhood, we know it’s best to avoid nicotine. So can you use electronic cigarettes without nicotine? Yes
Nicotine free vape is a hugely popular choice for those using vapes as a means to quit smoking, this is essentially an e-liquid without any nicotine. That means it still provides the mental stimulation of the ‘idea of smoking’ but without any nasties associated with cigarettes. Zero nic as it is also called means none of the caffeine-like stimulant, which can raise your blood pressure and resting heart rate. Things you want to moderate during pregnancy.
If it’s something you are considering, then just as with nicotine patches, you should always consult with a doctor first.
Happy Quitting and don’t ever feel defeated.