Smoking when pregnant.

So the big story in the news today is… Smoking when pregnant! Should you get paid to give up smoking when pregnant? My personal opinion is no. I don’t think we should get paid to put our babies health first. I don’t agree with the story a few years ago where they were suggesting paying to breastfeed either. If your attitude is, “I’m addicted and can’t quit” then somebody says I’ll give you £400 and you say “oh go on then” then surely you can’t have been that addicted to begin with. If you’re only trying because you’re getting paid then that is shocking that your baby wasn’t enough to motivate you. One thing that I think is wrong is that the vouchers are for Argos so you could just use the money to make over your bedroom and not spend a penny on the baby. If they were Mothercare vouchers then at least the baby benefits!

However, it’s easy for me to sit here saying the pregnancy should be enough motivation but I’ve never smoked! I’ve never been a big drinker, I’ve never had a gambling problem. The only addiction I’ve ever had is shoes. So I can’t sit here judging mothers that smoke because I have absolutely no idea what it’s like to crave or need a fag! So it brings us back to my reoccurring theme, there’s always a bigger picture and who are we to sit here criticising smokers? Yes, like any benefit there will always be someone that milks it! There will be mothers on low income that start smoking to get the vouchers and then miraculously give up – oh look it works! I generally have an issue with statistics, you can make statistics suit your hypothesis or create a debate or you can make them disprove a hypothesis. I think the figures were 23% or mothers gave up smoking. First of all 23% of what mothers, young and just started smoking? Older been addicted for years? How much were they smoking in a day? Did they stop after the study? What about the other 77%? How big was the control group? Why was it only conducted in one area? How far pregnant were they? Most people don’t discover a pregnancy until 6-8 weeks so is it too late anyway? Shouldn’t we just try and stop smoking in the first place? It raises more questions than it answers!

(The news just came on TV… 612 pregnant women in Glasgow were involved in the study, over the age of16, under 24 weeks pregnant. Half were given vouchers, half weren’t. 9% of the non voucher group stopped. So 28 people gave up without the voucher and 70 people gave up with vouchers so that’s not a big difference – unless it’s a statistic, then QUITTING MORE THAN DOUBLED WITH THE VOUCHERS – and it’s not representative of smoking pregnant women in general, in Britain. So… 16% gave up in total. What about the other 84%, did their babies die or what? Or did they go on to be very healthy, sshhh don’t tell anybody that doesn’t support the study! See how statistics can just be moulded to suit whatever you try and prove! This doesn’t make a very good headline: PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY PROVES 84% OF SMOKING MOTHERS CANNOT QUIT.)

Then the other statistic is 5000 babies die each year as a result of smoking. Purely as a result of smoking? Or is it just confirmation bias? How many tests are actually done? Is it just a case of well you smoked so that’s obviously why. Or is a broad investigation actually done to find out why the baby died? I don’t know the answer to this by the way, I’m just questioning the studies. Of course we will be told the number that suits the initiative! What about the babies that die and the mother never smoked? What’s that figure? Or do they say oh that’s passive smoking!

I remember when I was pregnant with Ollie I wasn’t concerned about my mom and dad smoking. They never smoked around me and yes it travels but so do car fumes and other forms of pollution in this world you can’t shelter yourself from the world! The nurse seemed disgusted by me at my ante natal checks when I said it’s ok they only smoke in one room. I was very smug when she tested me and I had the lowest possible read for carbon monoxide in my system!

When an idea like this pops up in the news I think the problem is everybody immediately resorts to a stereotypical image. Scummy mummy benefits tramp that only has kids to get benefits, 6 kids all with different dads and scrounges everything she can to avoid working. I’m not denying those people exist but I don’t think they are representative of a pregnant smoker. There are many decent women that will be wonderful mothers that just happen to smoke. When you try a cigarette at 15 I don’t think the thought process is, “hold on what if I get pregnant in 15 years, how will I give up?” We all know smoking is bad, smokers and non smokers. I don’t think we need to bash all smoking mothers over the head with this notion that if you don’t stop then you’re not fit to be a mother. I think smokers want to stop and in many cases will try when pregnant and at the very least cut down! Don’t judge mothers based on a snapshot of their life. I agree, the image of a smoking women when heavily pregnant is disturbing, how do you know the rest of her life? What if that’s the first smoke she’s had in months and she’s literally just having that one to satisfy her craving?

I’m sure my mom smoked a cut down amount when she was pregnant and she is a very fit mother and better than many non smoking mothers. Why does EVERYTHING have to be a measure of how ‘fit’ mothers are? If you bottle feed you’re selfish, if you use a dummy you’re lazy, if you smoke you’re a tramp? What about all the other factors that contribute to somebody’s ‘fitness’ to be a mother?

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