Here’s some advice, videos and tools to help you stop smoking.However, you’re far more likely to succeed with some extra guidance and support – click here to find out about our free and friendly stop smoking service.
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Smoking and the unborn baby
Protecting your baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life. It's never too late to stop smoking. Every cigarette you smoke in pregnancy harms your unborn baby. Cigarettes restrict the essential oxygen supply to your baby, so their heart has to beat harder every time you smoke. Cigarettes also contain over 4,000 chemicals.
If you stop smoking now
Stopping smoking will benefit both you and your baby immediately. Carbon monoxide and chemicals will clear from your body and oxygen levels will return to normal. If you stop smoking:
- you will have less morning sickness and fewer complications in pregnancy
- you are more likely to have a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby
- you will reduce the risk of stillbirth
- you will cope better with the birth
- your baby will cope better with any birth complications
- your baby is less likely to be born too early and have to face the additional breathing, feeding and health problems that often go with being premature
- your baby is less likely to be born underweight and have a problem keeping warm: babies of women who smoke are, on average, 200g (about 8oz) lighter than other babies, may have problems during and after labour and are more prone to infection
- you will reduce the risk of cot death, also called sudden infant death
Stopping smoking will also benefit your baby later in life. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from illnesses that need hospital treatment, such as asthma.
The sooner you stop smoking, the better. But stopping even in the last few weeks of your pregnancy will benefit you and your baby.
If your partner or anyone else who lives with you smokes, their smoke can affect you and the baby both before and after birth. You may also find it more difficult to quit if someone around you smokes.
Second-hand smoke can cause low birthweight and cot death. Babies whose parents smoke are more likely to be admitted to hospital for bronchitis and pneumonia during the first year of life. More than 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital every year because of the effects of second-hand smoke.
Getting help with stopping smoking
Live Well Suffolk’s specialist Stop Smoking Clinics in Pregnancy are recommended by midwives and doctors in Suffolk.
We understand that trying to quit smoking is hard work, but with our support and encouragement, practical advice, and assistance on selecting appropriate Nicotine Replacement Therapy you are more likely to succeed.
Partners and family members who smoke are welcome to attend as well. Make your home smoke free!
Contact us now for further details.Close
Stopping smoking lets you breathe more easily
People breathe more easily and cough less when they give up smoking because their lung capacity improves by up to 10% within nine months.
In your 20s and 30s, the effect of smoking on your lung capacity may not be noticeable until you go for a run, but lung capacity naturally diminishes with age.
In later years, having maximum lung capacity can mean the difference between having an active, healthy old age and wheezing when you go for a walk or climb the stairs.
Stop smoking gives you more energy
Within 2 to 12 weeks of stopping smoking your blood circulation improves. This makes all physical activity, including walking and running, much easier.
Read these self-help tips to fight fatigue.
Ditch the cigarettes and feel less stressed
The withdrawal from nicotine between cigarettes can heighten feelings of stress. As the stress of withdrawal feels the same as other stresses, it's easy to confuse normal stress with nicotine withdrawal. So, it can seem like smoking is reducing other stresses whereas this is not the case.
In fact, scientific studies show people's stress levels are lower after they stop smoking.
If you're finding that you are prone to stress, then replacing smoking with a healthier, better way of dealing with stress can give you some real benefits.
Read our top 10 stress busters to find out more.
Quitting leads to better sex
Stopping smoking improves the body's blood flow so improves sensitivity.
Men who stop smoking may get better erections. Women may find their orgasms improve and they become aroused more easily.
It's also been found that non-smokers are three times more appealling to prospective partners than smokers.
Find out more tips for having good sex.
Stopping smoking improves fertility
Non-smokers find it easier to get pregnant. Quitting smoking improves the lining of the womb and can make men's sperm more potent.
Becoming a non-smoker increases the possibility of conceiving through IVF, and reduces the likelihood of having a miscarriage.
Most importantly, it improves the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.
Read more about how to protect your fertility.
Stopping smoking improves smell and taste
When you stop smoking, your senses of smell and taste get a boost. You may notice that food tastes and smells different as your mouth and nose recover from being dulled by the hundreds of toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.
Stop smoking for younger-looking skin
Stopping smoking has been found to slow facial ageing and delay the appearance of wrinkles.
The skin of a non-smoker gets more nutrients, including oxygen, and stopping smoking can reverse the sallow, lined complexion smokers often have.
Watch this video to find out how smoking can ruin your looks.
Ex-smokers have whiter teeth and sweeter breath
Giving up tobacco stops teeth becoming stained, and you'll have fresher breath. Ex-smokers are also less likely than smokers to get gum disease and lose their teeth prematurely.
Read about how stopping smoking helps banish bad breath.
Quit smoking to live longer
Men who quit smoking by the age of 30 add 10 years to their life. People who kick the habit at 60 add three years to their life.
In other words, it's never too late to benefit from stopping. Being smoke-free not only adds years to your life, but also greatly improves your chances of a disease-free, mobile, happier old age.
A smoke-free homes protects your loved ones
By stopping smoking, you'll be protecting the health of your non-smoking friends and family, too.
Breathing in secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. In children it doubles the risk of getting chest illnesses, including pneumonia, ear infections, wheezing and asthma.
They also have three times the risk of getting lung cancer in later life compared with children who live with non-smokers.
Read more about the dangers of passive smoking.
Excuse 1: 'the damage is done'
You might feel that because you smoke, you've already increased your chance of getting cancer or another smoking-related disease, so quitting now won't make any difference.
In fact, as soon as you quit, your body starts to repair itself. You'll notice improvements in your breathing and sense of taste and smell just a few days after stopping.
You'll also improve the health of your family and friends by not exposing them to passive smoking.
Find out more about the health benefits of quitting.
Excuse 2: 'I'll gain weight'
Medical evidence shows that nicotine doesn't stop you getting hungry. Smoking makes you burn calories faster, but as long as you remember that you need less food energy, quitting won't actually make you gain weight.
Try cutting down on sugar and fat and take up an activity instead of replacing cigarettes with food or alcohol.
Read more about how to stop smoking without gaining weight.
Excuse 3: 'I'll get stressed'
Despite what you may think, nicotine doesn't calm you down.
Nicotine cravings between cigarettes actually make you feel stressed and anxious, so when you smoke the cigarette you feel calmer. But you'll feel less stressed once you quit and don't have cravings any more.
If you want a cigarette, wait for 10 minutes and the craving will usually pass. Take some deep breaths or go for a walk to relieve the stress and distract you from those cravings.
Here are some more stress-busting tips.
Excuse 4: 'it's not the right time to quit smoking'
Although it's true that you shouldn't try to quit during particularly stressful times, don't use this as an excuse to keep putting it off.
Pick a particular date, such as the beginning of a holiday or the beginning of a working week. Work out what makes you want a cigarette, such as having a cup of tea or going to the pub, and pick a day when you can avoid these triggers.
Telling lots of people that you're giving up will make you more likely to quit. You won't want to let them down, and you can ask smokers not to offer you cigarettes.
Read more about 8 great times to quit smoking.
Excuse 5: 'quitting will ruin my social life'
For many smokers, cigarettes are an important part of their social life. You may class yourself as a social smoker, who only has a cigarette when you're with friends who smoke or during nights out. You may also have bonded with colleagues during cigarette breaks.
In reality fewer than one in five people now smokes, so there will be plenty of people who don't smoke to be social with if you look out for them.
Although social smoking may seem better than smoking 40 a day, there is no safe level of smoking. If you have to make some compromises in your social life, it's well worth it for the sake of your health.
Excuse 6: 'smoking looks good'
For some people, holding a stick of tobacco wrapped in paper seems attractive and fashionable. Teenagers may think it makes them look older or cooler.
But many people find the sight of a smoker unattractive. Yellow fingernails, blackened fingers and a stained tongue and teeth are not a pretty sight.
Smoking also makes your complexion dull and prematurely ages your skin. So if you don't want to look old before your time, it's a good idea to quit.
There's also the smell. Cigarette smoke sticks to your hair and clothes long after you've had your last cigarette of the day. Some people think kissing a smoker is like 'kissing an ashtray'. If you'd prefer to smell fresher, now's the time to quit.
Watch this video to see how smoking can ruin your looks.
Find out how stopping smoking will help banish bad breath.
Excuse 7: 'I can't quit because I'm addicted'
There is some truth in this. Smoking is an addiction that's undeniably tough to break. But it's not impossible and every year thousands of people manage to give it up. With a lot of determination, you can do it too.
To quit successfully, you need to deal with your chemical addiction to nicotine and the fact that smoking has become part of your daily routine.
The chemical addiction causes physical symptoms when you quit, such as tiredness, irritability and poor concentration. Your GP can prescribe medication to replace the nicotine and you can access support sessions for extra motivation to help you manage your cravings.
Read more about the smoking treatments available on the NHS.
- You'll be healthier and less out of breath because smoking decreases your lung capacity.
- You'll save yourself a lot of money. The average smoker spends an astonishing £27.54 a week and £90,000 over their lifetime on cigarettes. Use this tool to work out how much money you will save by stopping smoking.
- You'll look better. Chemicals in cigarettes restrict blood flow to your skin. Smokers have more wrinkled and saggy faces by the time they're in their mid-20s.
- Quitting helps save the planet. Deforestation due to tobacco production accounts for nearly 5% of overall deforestation in the developing world.
- Someone who starts smoking at 15 is three times more likely to die from cancer than someone who starts smoking in their mid-20s. Read more about the dangers of teen smoking.
- The younger you start smoking, the more damage there will be to your body as an adult.
- Not smoking will make you instantly more attractive. Most people prefer kissing non-smokers.
Eight ways to get through quitting
OK, enough of the arm twisting. You want to give up, so where do you start?
- Make a deal with good friends to quit. You may find that they want to quit as well.
- It's very hard to give up by willpower alone. Get all the help you can find: using stop smoking medicines can really increase your chances success. As these are available on prescription, they will be free for 12- to 18-year-olds. Ask your GP for help stopping smoking. They won't be shocked that you're a smoker.
- Smokers often hate other people quitting, so be prepared for a few put-downs. It's a good idea to have something ready to say when you’re offered a cigarette. Here are a few reasons (but we're sure you can think of better ones):
"Smoking costs me £xxx a year. I'm giving up so I can buy myself a new phone/driving lessons/a holiday."
"I can't smoke in my new weekend job so I want to give up."
"My boyfriend/girlfriend doesn't like kissing a smoker." It's true: two-thirds of teenagers say smoking reduces sexual attractiveness.
"I'm taking my sport seriously and I need to give up if I want to be an athlete."
- Prepare for a tough first few days as these can be the hardest to cope with. Most of your withdrawal symptoms should subside after the first four weeks and using a combination of nicotine-containing medicines is a good way to cope with cravings.
- Worried about weight gain while you're quitting? Load up with low-calorie snacks, such as apple chips, carrot sticks, sugar-free mints or popcorn, to get you through the cravings. Read more about how you can quit smoking without putting on weight.
- Ask friends and family to support you. Ask help from those people who will be on your side. Choose people who you can be honest with and who will be honest with you. Sometimes you need a bit of tough love as much as a cuddle or a shoulder to cry on.
- Do your best to stay away from alcohol, coffee, sugar and sweets. Studies have shown that these (especially alcohol) can stimulate cigarette cravings. Here's some advice on how to cut down on your drinking.
- And remember, it takes about a month for the nicotine cravings to subside. Take it one day at a time and soon you'll be smokefree for the rest of your life.