Pregnant and smoking – what are your options? Part Two
In this, second of a two-part blog, I will cover the remaining options if you are pregnant and want to give up the smokes. (Part One is here)
As I said before, the research can be complex to take in, therefore I am happy to provide more in-depth information and explain studies covering those areas which interest you.
Before May 2016, e-cigarettes were unregulated and unreliably labelled. To address this, the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 were introduced imposing much tighter standards of safety and quality, placing restrictions on promotion and advertising. As a result, individuals are now better placed to make an informed decision about the products available.
A few months ago the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group produced a report stating that although little research has been conducted into the use of e-cigarettes during pregnancy, and although they are not risk-free, e-cigarettes are likely to be significantly less harmful to a pregnant woman and her baby than cigarettes, not least as they do not contain carbon monoxide (CO) or many of the other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes.
About 5.6% of the UK population use e-cigarettes, some 2.9 million people. Unlike nicotine replacement products, there are currently no e-cigarettes with a medicinal licence on the market. This means that they cannot be prescribed by your doctor. However, evidence so far does indicate that they can help people kick the habit with similar or better results than nicotine replacement options, if used correctly.
5. PHARMACOLOGICAL OPTIONS
Medications can also be prescribed to help people stop smoking. Bupropion (sometimes marketed under the trade name of Wellbutrin or Zyban) was originally developed to treat depression. Even though such drugs may not be specifically contraindicated for pregnancy, most drugs are tested on healthy males. The dose and effect of those drugs in the female body can therefore be rather vague. This is all the more so in a pregnant body and there is still a lack of research of the effect of this type of prescription drugs for smoking cessation on pregnancy and birth. Indeed an article recently published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology showed that mothers who took Zyban during pregnancy had an increased risk of giving birth to a child with "left outflow tract heart defects".
There are generally several local counselling services for people wishing to quit smoking, many of which are free of charge. These may be group-based or individual, face-to-face or telephone-based. Ensuring that you have a strong support network can make the difference between success and failure, so it is worth finding out about available services. You can find your local stop smoking service here. Alternatively, your midwife or GP will be able to provide you with details of specialist smoking cessation services.
Counselling, combined with other approaches, can boost your chances of quitting for good.
7. ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES
Hypnotherapy and acupuncture are probably the most popular drug-free alternative therapies, neither of which have negative side-effects.
Although the scientific world is far from definitively recommending these approaches for smoking cessation, research in support of alternative therapies is growing.
Because hypnosis (and Neuro Linguistic Programming – NLP – with which it is often coupled) has become known for its ability to change behaviours quickly, it’s a natural starting point for many smokers trying to quit. Despite a lack of robust clinical trials, there are studies that show a correlation between smoking cessation and hypnosis (I am happy to provide in-depth study information, click here).
Acupuncture is perhaps the most extensively studied among the ‘alternative therapies’ used to quit smoking. As with hypnotherapy, studies have been conducted into smoking cessation outcomes with and without the use of acupuncture, and the results suggest that approaches which also used acupuncture were significantly more successful in reducing smoking.
The number of sessions that you will need will vary depending on the approach taken and the treatment sought, and you should take time to research therapists and ideally speak with them before making a decision as to which one suits you best. As a rule, the approach of these interventions will be to calm physical cravings, reduce stress and, in the case of hypnosis, to break the psychological associations smokers make which sustain the habit.