Quitting smoking at least two months before trying to get pregnant can drastically increase your chances of conceiving. It may be one of the best things you can do for your fertility and your baby’s health. However, this is easier said than done. Follow the advice given in this article and beat smoking one cigarette at a time.
1. Smoking and second-hand smoke can cause infertility. It damages reproductive organs and eggs and causes ovulation problems.
2. Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage and can cause complications, such as preterm labour and ectopic pregnancy.
3. Smokers often take longer to get pregnant and their babies are likely to have health problems.
4. Male smokers often have a lower sperm count, hormonal issues and erectile dysfunctions.
How to stop
According to the father of nutrition, Dr Patrick Holford, in his book How to quit without feeling s**t, taking basic supplements and combining it with a balanced alkaline and Low GI diet for one month before quitting, will stabilise your blood sugar and fight withdrawal symptoms. When you stop smoking, the nicotine withdrawal can cause low blood sugar, causing an increase in appetite and weight gain. Following his advice will help curb that reaction.
After one month of following the correct diet, you should cut out all stimulants like coffee, sugar and chocolate too. Quitting only one stimulant, like nicotine, can lead to increased intake of other stimulants, causing more health problems.
Breaking your smoking habits is the next big step. According to Dr Holford, stimulants like nicotine boost dopamine levels. Dopamine levels are lower when you H.A.L.T, that is when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, says ADHD specialist Dr Shabeer Jeeva (www.adhdclinicjeeva.com). So avoid HALTing at all cost. Other smoking-related rituals should also be avoided, such as smoking after a meal, smoking when you have a drink, etc. Keeping a smoking diary for a week could help you identify the main reasons why you are smoking. Write down the situation you are in when you smoke, and add to the list each day, for example:
With a hot drink: 16
After a meal: 6
With alcohol: 4
Difficult situation: 4
After sex: 3
Now, tackle one item on the list every week, until you have eliminated all the habitual cigarettes.
If you are still smoking after that, start cutting down on the amount of nicotine in your cigarettes. When you reach 2mg of nicotine per cigarette, start cutting down the amount of cigarettes you have each day.
After the first week of quitting, increase your intake of Vitamin C, magnesium, chromium, niacin and calcium (refer to How to quit without feeling s**t, 2008, pg 305 for a detailed description). Also start an exercise regime to naturally boost dopamine levels.
A helpful hint is to keep all your cigarette buds in a sealed glass container with a little water. This will help cure any romantic or positive image you may have of smoking.
Good luck to all future mommies!