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Becoming a parent and quitting smoking: Anne and Sebastien’s stories

Image of a man holding his baby son.
Sebastien with his son, Louis, the day he was born (the day Sebastien quit)!

Anne, a Queenslander and proud mum of two, quit smoking 14 years ago after being a smoker for over 30 years. Sebastien, another Queenslander, quit the day his son was born, over a year and a half ago. Both found becoming a parent changed their outlook on smoking and life and made the decision to quit for themselves and their families. Finding their reason, planning, mental preparation and support helped both Queenslanders stay quit. They want to encourage other Queenslanders trying to quit that it is doable, even if you don’t succeed the first time!

Staying quit during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Anne had stopped smoking several times before her final successful quit attempt when she was trying to start a family. She knew that quitting smoking would immediately reduce her risk of pregnancy complications and harm to her baby’s health.

“The times I’d stopped before was because I was trying to have children,” she said.

“That was the only reason I stopped before as I wanted to have a baby. So that made it easy because I had a real strong driver to do it. But then when I had my miscarriages and I wasn't pregnant anymore, it was really easy to fall back again into smoking.”

Anne stopped smoking throughout her whole pregnancy with her baby twin girls. She also stayed off the cigarettes whilst she was breastfeeding, knowing that smoking could affect her ability to breastfeed and pass on toxic chemicals from tobacco to her babies through her breast milk.

“After a few months after I'd finished breastfeeding, I did start smoking again, not as heavily, but I did go back to it because I'd missed it pretty much the whole time,” she said.

Find your reason

It took Anne another few years to finally quit for good.

“I was enjoying it less and less because it was taking me away from my family,” she said.

“I stopped because I did have young children and because of my health. I was thinking I want to be around when they grow up, so I thought I'm going to stop.”

Having a child and keeping healthy also motivated Sebastien to quit smoking. Smoking was not only hurting his body but also his wallet.

“There's a variety of factors and obviously having a child and being healthy for my child was number one,” he said.

“But I think there was also a real financial aspect to it, and also making sure we had the money to care for the baby.”

Quit HQ’s cost calculator shows you just how much you could save if you quit smoking.

Sebastien emphasised how important it was to make the decision to quit himself.

“I knew I had to quit for a long time,” he said.

“My partner quit five years before I did. And before my son was born, she was pressuring me to quit. But I didn't want anyone else to pressure me into doing it. I wanted to do it in my own time and when I knew it was right for me. In my head, I had the day of his birth as the actual D-Day for when I would do it.”

Plan ahead

For both Anne and Sebastien making a plan to quit ahead of time was key to their success. Sebastien says it was a gradual process which involved a lot of mental preparation in the lead up to quitting.

“It was probably six months from when the seed was first planted in my head to the day I actually quit,” he said.

“It was a very gradual thing with just the mental preparation rather than anything else. It was about accepting the fact that I would be smoke free and that I would quit. And it's very hard as a smoker to picture yourself without a cigarette at particular times of the day or events or locations or out with friends.”

“And so, on the day of the birth of my child, I remember going out the front of the hospital, into the smoking area, surrounded by other people smoking. I had two drags and I remember thinking, ‘What am I doing? That’s it, it’s over.’ So, I extinguished the cigarette, put it in the bin and have never smoked again.”

He says having a baby has been a welcomed, good distraction.

Similarly, Anne planned ahead and started healthy habits and hobbies before quitting to carry her through.

“I thought about it at length for quite a few months before I stopped and I'd put things in place,” she said.

“It’s important to have a plan and things to replace, in a way, the crutch of a cigarette to help you relax and destress. I'd taken up things like walking. I started reading really good books. I'd prepared the day I was going to stop and had nothing planned for the weekend, like nothing socially. I didn't tell anyone I was going to stop because when you tell people you put more pressure on yourself.”

Breaking associations, keeping busy and rewarding herself also stood Anne in good stead when cravings would strike.

“I didn't drink coffee for a while,” she said.

“I like a glass of wine, so I didn't have any white wine for a while because I just had that strong association. If I had a glass of wine I wanted to have a cigarette, so I would have something else.”

“Instead of going and having a cigarette with a cup of tea, I'd sit back with my book and have a little nap or go out for a walk. So, reward yourself in different ways.”

“It's one of the hardest things I've done, but I was very determined. I really wanted to do it for myself this time.”

Image of a woman holding her twin baby girls.

Stay strong and go the distance

While Anne found quitting challenging, she wants to let other Queenslanders know it is doable and not to be discouraged by past failed attempts.

“It was hard, but I'd prepared because I think it stood me in good stead that I had stopped before, so I knew how it was going to feel,” she said.

“When you initially stop you've got this enthusiasm that gets you through and makes you feel good. But that wears off quite quickly and it can then feel terrible because you’re used to putting all these chemicals in your body and the withdrawal is awful. So that's when you can really crumble, so I was prepared for that.”

“I would make the plan to do it, because I feel it did help me be prepared that it will be difficult. And if you don't succeed the first time you can do it.”

Anne also says she felt the health benefits immediately after quitting. After just 20 minutes your blood pressure and heart rate start to drop and recover from the cigarette-induced spike. After only 72 hours your energy levels will improve and within five days almost all the nicotine is out of your body and your liver and kidneys are working to remove the chemicals from your body.

“I had quite a significant cough for a while, and I've never had that sort of cough again since quitting. It ceased just about right away. I just have more energy and just feel healthier in general.”

For Sebastien who’s now been quit for over a year and a half, he’s reduced his excess risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke by 50 percent.

Quitting has enabled Sebastien to save money, feel fitter and prioritise his family.

“I run a fair bit and straight away I could feel a difference,” he said.

“What it's really enabled me to do is spend more time with my child instead of sneaking outside for a cigarette.”

“At first it was daunting to quit, but now I've never felt so happy.”

Throughout the process of quitting, it’s important you get as much help as you need.  That’s why there’s a special service set up for all Queenslanders to give you support along your quit journey.

Quitline is staffed by highly trained and friendly professionals who are available 7 days a week to help you. They even provide a free specialised program for women and their partners to quit when you are planning a pregnancy, pregnant and after baby is born.

For more information, call Quitline on 13 7848 or visit the Quit HQ website to request a call from Quitline.

More information

7 things to spend your money on when you quit smoking

Top 5 tips for quitting smoking successfully

5 health benefits of quitting smoking

After 54 years of smoking, I quit!

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Last updated: 5 November 2020