WARNING: Dreaming of motherhood while you smoke or vape
While a new study adds precision in determining the fetal risk of ADHD if using nicotine during pregnancy, according to the CDC, roughly 80% of women still smoking when they learned they were pregnant were unsuccessful in quitting. But why?
A February 25, 2019 study in Pediatrics by Sourander and colleagues examined cotinine levels in blood samples taken during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy of 1,079 women whose offspring were later diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Nicotine is the parent of cotinine. Nicotine's major metabolite, it's longer lasting and easier to measure. The study found "a dose-response relationship between nicotine exposure during pregnancy and offspring ADHD."
The increased odds of ADHD ranged from 6 to 334 percent, with the more cotinine found in a blood sample predicting the increased likelihood of the baby having ADHD. While more precise, studies had linked ADHD to smoking since at least 1999.
Prior studies paint a frightening nicotine harms picture, including implicating nicotine in fetal developmental damage, spontaneous abortions, intrauterine growth retardation, perinatal death, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, birth defects, subsequent learning disabilities, cognitive dysfunction, behavioral problems, greater susceptibility to drug dependence, psychiatric disorders, conduct disorders, criminal behaviors, and school and career failure.
As nicotine toxicologists gathered and shouted in 2007, and as just released stem cell research made undeniable today, February 28, 2019, it isn't whether or not the natural insecticide nicotine will harm the developing fetus, but about how profound and noticeable the damage will be.
After reviewing the potential for e-cigarettes to cause fetal harm, the 2015 Suter study stated, "We conclude that no amount of nicotine is known to be safe during pregnancy."
Now, for the bad news
If expecting to quit smoking or vaping upon learning that you're pregnant, think again. Maybe. But it's far more likely that you won't.
While extremely easy to rationalize that pregnancy itself will be sufficient to motivate quitting, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only "20.6% of women who smoked in the first or second trimesters [were able to quit] by the third trimester."
Stated more harshly, there's an 80% chance that your plan will fail. Worse yet, up to 90 percent who succeed in quitting during pregnancy, relapse to smoking within a year.
The bottom line is that if you are a smoker as you approach childbearing that it's highly likely that your baby will have an actively feeding drug addict for a mother.
Sound too harsh? If so, understand that awareness and acceptance of who you've become -- that nicotine addiction is as real and permanent as alcoholism, that there is no known cure, that while you can comfortably and fully arrest your dependence you'll remain on probation for the balance of life, always just one puff away from relapse -- is a massive step towards an informed and lasting recovery.
Why are so few able to quit?
Mastering the answer to that question is key to giving birth to a baby whose first days of life are not spent enduring nicotine withdrawal. The short answer? We cannot quit for others, including the unborn.
As my 20-year mentor Joel Spitzer wrote 35 years ago, "A smoker may quit temporarily for the sake of a significant other, but he will feel as if he is depriving himself of something he truly wants. This feeling of deprivation will ultimately cause him to return to smoking." Joel notes that to avoid feeling deprived it's imperative that you quit for yourself, that you see yourself as the primary benefactor.
While fear is a great initial motivator, it lacks staying power. Why? Because we can only remain afraid for so long before growing numb to it. Yes, even when the fear is about harming the unborn life growing within.
It's why, depriving yourself for the benefit of others, including the unborn, is a recipe for relapse.
While being home is good and wonderful, each and every nicotine fix generates another highly durable dopamine pathway memory documenting exactly how the urge or crave for more was satisfied. And it wasn't long before these super memories buried all remaining memory of the calm and quiet mind we once called home.
If durable "wanting" satisfaction memories form the primary bars keeping you enslaved, ask yourself, when will it be easier to quit, now or after creating another month, season or year of use memories?
Now, for the good news
And when will it be easier to make your recovery "yours" and for "you," before or after discovering that you're pregnant?
There's no need to guess. According to the CDC, one in four women who smoked, successfully quit smoking within the 3 months prior to getting pregnant (24.2%).
Perfectly okay to dream about your baby's mother being an ex-smoker or ex-vaporer, the dream focuses on "your" gift and you. Pregnancy freedom's reward, a pre-pregnancy gift instead of sudden self-deprivation, your baby is now far more likely to bond to your natural aroma instead of the thousands of chemicals smoke used to deposit on your hair, skin and clothing.
Knowledge is power
Why wait another day to get clean? Each and every year more ex-smokers quit cold turkey than by all other methods combined. And it's not just the most productive method.
The 2018 Weaver study paints the most inclusive population-level quitting method picture yet. It found that cold turkey more than doubled the success rates of those using e-cigarettes, the nicotine patch, gum or lozenge, Chantix, Zyban, and gradual cut down approaches.
Whether ready to break free today or not, what do you have to lose by allowing yourself to become vastly smarter and wiser than nicotine's grip upon your brain, thinking and life. Just one pearl of wisdom at a time, yes you can!
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- WhyQuit.com - WhyQuit is the Internet's oldest forum devoted to the art, science and psychology of cold turkey quitting, the stop smoking method used by the vast majority of all successful long-term ex-smokers.
- Nicotine Addiction 101 - WhyQuit's basic guide to understanding nicotine dependency.
- Nicotine Cessation Topic Index - An alphabetical subject matter index to more than a thousand nicotine cessation articles, videos and support group discussions.
- Joel's Library - Joel Spitzer began presenting stop smoking clinics and seminars in 1976. WhyQuit's education director since 2000, Joel's Library is home to his life's work. It includes Joel's "Daily Quitting Lesson Guide," more than 100 original stop smoking articles, his free ebook "Never Take Another Puff," and to his ever growing collection of more than 400 stop smoking videos.
- "Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home" - Written by John R. Polito, a former 30-year heavy smoker and WhyQuit's 1999 founder, Freedom from Nicotine shares the science underlying nicotine dependency and successful abrupt nicotine cessation.
- Turkeyville - Imagine surrounding yourself with more than 10,000 cold turkey quitters. Turkeyville is a Facebook support group exclusively for cold turkey quitters.
- Freedom - Freedom was WhyQuit's original 1999 stop smoking support group. No longer accepting members, its 453,000 archived posts continue to share recovery insights.