Michelle had been a long-time smoker when she was screened at a PSF participating clinic and asked to fill out the Prenatal Survey during her first pregnancy. At that time Michelle was a recent quitter, meaning that she quit smoking when she found out she was pregnant. Both Michelle and her husband quit smoking during her first pregnancy.
When she was pregnant with her second child (pictured with Michelle), Michelle was pleased when her doctor screened her again at her first visit. “When I was pregnant the first time, I filled out a PSF survey and was asked about my smoking status. So I was surprised that my doctor knew my history during this second pregnancy. He asked me if I had stayed quit and told me about how important it was to protect my children from secondhand smoke. I told him that both my husband and I had remained smoke-free since my first pregnancy.”
“I think it’s very important for doctors to advise their patients not to smoke, especially around children. My doctor’s advice really helped me to stay quit.”
Liliana stopped smoking when she discovered she was pregnant. She had been smoking for almost 6 years, at one point smoking a pack a day. “It was tough,” said Liliana, “and I actually waited a month after learning I was pregnant to quit. At first I quit because I wanted my baby to be healthy, but now I want stay quit for my health too.”
Liliana completed the PSF Prenatal Survey at her first prenatal visit. On the survey, she checked off the box that says “I quit smoking after I learned I was pregnant, identifying herself as a recent quitter.
When Liliana’s survey was reviewed, she was given educational materials about how to stay quit while she is pregnant and after her baby is born. Liliana told us that the information she received was great and helped her avoid relapse. Liliana says “I think smokers need a lot of support. It’s hard to quit, especially when you see someone around you smoke.”
Liliana has learned to replace her cravings for cigarettes with drinking water. She drinks up to 2 gallons of water daily and has also begun to eat healthier. Before, when Liliana smoked, she didn’t want to eat. Now that she doesn’t smoke, she eats healthier and feels so much better.
Celeste completed the PSF Prenatal Survey when she was pregnant with her second child back in 1999 when the program first began. With the help of her doctors, their staff and the California Smokers’ Helpline, she quit smoking.
Today, Celeste (pictured with her daughter) is caring for five children at home – a stressful and demanding job. When asked if she smokes, she confidently says, “No, smoking is disgusting.” She explained that while there isn’t a single activity that she has replaced smoking with to reduce stress, she no longer has any desire to smoke or even be near someone who is smoking. She is happy that she will be able to pass that message on to her children.
Celeste said that the best advice she can give other people trying to quit is to wait for each craving to end. She says that each craving lasts about seven minutes and if you can keep yourself busy for those seven minutes and not give in, the craving will stop. She adds that even if the next craving happens in 10 minutes, you know you only have to wait seven and it will be gone again. Celeste wants PSF offices to know that being linked to the Helpline played a key role in her becoming smoke-free!
Danielle wore loose clothing to hide her belly before receiving help from The Partnership for Smoke-Free Families Program. She didn’t want anyone to know that she was pregnant when they saw her smoking a cigarette. Since joining the Navy, Danielle had been smoking a pack a day for three years.
The guilt she feared experiencing from outsiders, however, couldn’t compare with the feeling Danielle had when she believed that her baby was telling her to quit. Toward the end of the first trimester, Danielle was in the middle of smoking a cigarette when she felt her baby kick for the first time. As her eyes well with tears, Danielle explains, “I felt horrible knowing that I was hurting my baby, but I never thought I’d be able to quit.”
Everything changed for Danielle and her baby after she attended her first prenatal visit. Danielle was asked to complete the PSF Prenatal Survey and received advice from her obstetrician to quit smoking.
Upon receiving her completed survey, Danielle was proactively linked with the California Smokers’ Helpline to ensure that she would receive a call from a cessation counselor. Within a week, Danielle spoke with a helpline counselor. At the end of the first call with the Helpline, Danielle threw away all of her cigarettes and has been smoke-free ever since. She attributes her success to the counselor’s ability to help without making her feel guilty or judged.
Later in her pregnancy, Danielle was proud to wear tight shirts so everyone knew she was pregnant and could share in her excitement about her new baby boy, Nixon.
Teresa, mother of four (pictured with her son), had smoked since she was 16 years old. Teresa says that cigarettes were never appealing when she was pregnant, so she was able to quit during each of her pregnancies.
Each time, Teresa’s husband, a non-smoker, strongly encouraged her to stay quit for good – but Theresa would start to feel anxious after each pregnancy and start smoking again. To avoid pressure from her husband, she would hide her cigarettes, but her husband could always tell that she had been smoking.
Teresa says “I tried to rationalize my smoking by telling myself that I didn’t smoke very much.” She compares her tobacco addiction to that of an alcoholic who can’t admit that he or she has a problem.
Teresa’s youngest son, Alejandro, was three years old when she decided to quit smoking… again. On the day that Teresa took Alejandro for a well-child visit, she was struggling to stay quit. At that visit, she was asked to complete the PSF Parent Survey. A member of the nursing staff talked to her about the Partnership for Smoke-Free Families Program. Teresa had received education materials at previous medical appointments but the timing was never right and Teresa would discard the information. On this day, the timing was right and Teresa was ready for help.
A counselor from the California Smokers’ Helpline called Teresa and together they identified strategies to help her stay quit and activities, such as walking, that she could do instead of smoking. When she felt the need to smoke, she would suck on mints as an alternative, especially after meals.
Ricardo smoked 8-10 cigarettes a day for 43 years. He quit smoking for the first time at age 58 and has been smoke-free for over a year now!
When Ricardo took his ninth child, Myreya, for her 6-month well-child visit he was asked to complete the PSF Parent Survey, where he indicated that he was a smoker and that he was interested in receiving help to quit. Ricardo says that he had never been asked about smoking by any of his other children’s doctors.
Ricardo received a call from a Spanish-speaking counselor at the California Smokers’ Helpline. When asked if he was surprised to receive a call, Ricardo said he was not surprised at all because he knew that a counselor would be calling.
Ricardo says that the birth of his ninth child really motivated him to engage in cessation counseling. At 58, he knew that he needed to do everything possible to make sure he would be around for his daughter. Ricardo characterizes the sessions with his counselors as profound, sincere conversations. “Many of the calls lasted an hour. [The counselor] helped me to decide on a strategy to cut down over time instead of quitting all at once.” Ricardo reports one small relapse about two months after quitting when he smoked a few cigarettes at a social event. But this brief relapse did not deter him – rather it gave him more motivation to quit for good.
Ricardo has created a healthier home environment for his family and has more energy since quitting. He enjoys the benefits every day!