Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Smoking during Pregnancy

Mr Ayak's cousin, Derya, and her husband, who visited us on Saturday, are expecting their first baby in November.  They have been married for just over a year, and are very happy and excited about the baby.

She's a very intelligent young woman, well educated and very westernised in her outlook on life.  After they had been here for 5 minutes or so, she lit up a cigarette.  And she continued to smoke throughout the afternoon.

I was very shocked, and it's been on my mind ever since.  Of course I didn't comment on it at the time.  What would be the point?  She must know the risks, and it's her choice.

But it did get me wondering about when we started to find this practise shocking...obscene even?

I've been a smoker most of my life, but I gave up when I was pregnant with my first child some 30 years ago. In fact I didn't smoke again for 9 years, which saw me through the birth of my second child, and through the formative years of both of my children.   I don't think I'd have taken up the weeds again if it hadn't been for the stress of a messy divorce.

If we go back to my parents' generation, things were very different.  My mother was a heavy smoker, and she continued to smoke through all three of her pregnancies, but she produced three large very healthy babies.  We were brought up in an environment of cigarette smoke.  No-one ever considered that passive smoking could be harmful.   And it would seem that it didn't actually harm any of us.

Most of my daughter's generation are  obsessed with avoiding absolutely anything that can harm their unborn child.   When my daughter was pregnant with Billy, anyone who smoked would not be allowed within a 100 yards of her.  And through information so freely available these days, she knew all the foods that should be avoided, and all the risks that should not be taken.

I am still one of those people who is yet to be convinced that passive smoking is really harmful.  I believe there is so much pollution in the atmosphere anyway, from traffic etc, that smoking makes up a very small part of that.  But having said that, I have always respected others' beliefs, and would never just light up a cigarette in the company of non-smokers without their permission.

I wonder then why I almost had this feeling of disgust at seeing Derya smoking?  Have we been brainwashed in recent years to believe that smoking is more harmful than anything else?  And that the sight of a pregnant woman smoking is obscene?  It seems that way to me.

What do you think?


  1. Ayak, here in singapore theres pics of deformed babies/fetus on cigarette boxes, supposedly to put off the smokers and also of course to educate the dangers of cigarettes to unborn child. I guess we've been slowly brainwashed but for the good. I'm 6 mths preggy now and hubby made an effort never to smoke within my sight.

    Anyway, here's a lil video for u to watch. a 2 year old Indonesian boy smoking and apprently a trend there now amongst children.

  2. Hi L...That video is truly shocking, and particularly worrying that those around him seem to accept it. And the fact that you say it's a trend there now is very disturbing. Thanks for your comment.

    And good luck with your pregnancy and birth xx

  3. That was very risky indeed. All we can do is hope and pray for the unborn child. xxx

  4. When I was young everyone smoked and I was a passive smoker for years because of my parents habit and then my husband's.
    I think that my own children have definitely suffered from all the smoke that they inhaled, though......
    My son suffers with asthma that didn't materialise until he was an adult.
    I am very much in favour of keeping young children (and myself) away from smokers.I have always thought it would be a good idea to have something really off putting, as a warning,on a packet of cigs.

    Pollution is another problem altogether......... not so easily dealt with by us as individuals.
    I think I would have said something to the cousin!!!!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  5. Brainwashed love, without a doubt, oh no doubt smoking is not good for you, but for many years mothers smoked when pregnant, was it any worse when they smoked or not, your reaction is exactly the same as mine, shocked when you see a pregnant woman smoke, only because we are brainwashed.

  6. I can fully understand your reaction, although I think I'd have been surprised rather than shocked. I'm afraid I did smoke through two pregnancies, and I don't remember it being particularly frowned on. I used to go outside to smoke after they were born. You made the right decision not to say anything to her, I don't like 'smoke police'!

  7. It is amazing how quickly we have changed our attitudes to smoking. I remember bringing my dad cigarettes to the hospital after his bowel cancer op and he smoked before he ate anything - and there were ashtrays on the bedside cabinets...

  8. Maggie...naturally we can only speak from our own experiences. You feel that passive smoking had a detrimental effect as far as your family is concerned, but I experienced the opposite. One of the reasons I did this post because I was interested in personal thanks x

    Ann: I tend to agree that the shock is a result of brainwashing

    Jan: I may well have continued smoking throughout my pregnancies but my first husband was a non-smoker and hated the habit anyway. I felt an unspoken pressure on me to quit, and I also felt guilty because as I recall it was about the time that the publicity started about smoking being harmful to the unborn child. I wouldn't have said anything to Derya whatever I thought. I don't like "smoke police" either.

    Monalisa: Yes I also remember when smoking in hospitals was allowed. Even when I had my children there were smoking rooms at the end of the labour ward.
    It's only in recent years in Turkey that smoking in hospitals ceased. I recall a couple of visits to see doctors, when after examination, we have sat smoking in the consulting room..the doctor smoking as well.

  9. Oops sorry Mel..didn't mean to miss you out of my replies. It's interesting to get a response from someone in your age group, because I suspect most of your life has consisted of being free from passive smoking?

  10. Brainwashed! Yep, and I know exactly how you feel. I too am brainwashed to be appalled at pregnant women smoking though my mom delivered an 11 lb baby girl and she (mom) was a smoker. I have recently quit, my husband hasn't. I'm not worried about second hand smoke although I am worried about all the polluted water we drink and the polluted air full of chemicals that we inhale daily. Smog is so bad in California that they actually give a smog alert warning everyday. Nope, second hand smoke doesn't scare me.

  11. Charlotte Ann...I feel pretty much the same.

  12. My father smoked like a chimney...we used to call his tobacco 'tramdriver's glove' was so pungent.
    If he was home, I would open the front door and smoke would emerge from the hall...

    He lived, heale and hearty, to be 93.

    Mother smoked on and off since her days in the ATS.

    I didn't...tried twice, didn't like virtue on my part.

    I take Charlotte Ann's point..I'm much more worried about polluted water and food adulteration.

  13. Fly: My mother also started smoking when she was in the ATS..I think it was considered pretty glamourous in those days. I come from a long line of smokers on both sides of the family..most of whom lived to a ripe old age.

    Like you and charlotte Ann, I feel there are more harmful pollutants to worry about.

  14. Ayak, we find it shocking now because we now the potential hazards. I was a smoker - not a heavy one...more recreational when I was in university and in my 20's. But I wouldn't smoke now for various reasons - health being the biggest and certainly not during pregnancy. My cousin - a very heavy smoker, smoked during her second pregnancy. Her daughter has asthma and is very small for her age. She blames the cigarettes. So with all the knowledge that we know now about the potential harm smoking can bring to unborn children makes me wonder what the mother is thinking. But I don't judge - I just wonder.

  15. 'Cross the Pond:Thanks for your comment. Now I suppose I could ask you what proof your cousin has that her smoking caused her daughter to be small and suffer with asthma? Maybe she's right and the cigarettes were to blame, but maybe it's guilt on her part..maybe she blames herself. For every one of these stories is one from the opposite point of view. I have a friend who has suffered from chronic asthma all her life, she has never smoked and was brought up in a non-smoking environment.
    As far as Derya is concerned, I'm sure she is well aware of the risks. She is well educated, she's a teacher, she's not a stupid person by any means. The Turks do however seem to have a different attitude towards smoking, or any dangers in life for that matter. They are a nation of reckless drivers for example. They tend to put their trust for their survival in the hands of Allah. Almost as if they have no control over their destiny. What will be will be seems to be the way they approach life.

    Thanks everyone for your's an interesting topic.

  16. Interesting post and comments.

    I'm just glad that I found it easy to give up, It is a horrible habit - pregnant or not.

  17. FF: Ah..but it's easy to say it's a horrible habit if it was easy for you to give up ;-)

    Just as it's easy for me to say it isn't because I'm still smoking!

  18. Ayak, my cousin has no proof at all. When something is 'wrong' (and her daughter is perfectly fine other than being rather small for her age and asthma which is fairly insignificant in the realm of things) I think (and this is just me) that people look to point a finger in the face of adversity. Cigarettes are an easy target. I'm not condoning smoking... I'm just saying...

  19. 'Cross the Pond: Yes I agree that cigarettes are an easy target..we all like something to blame if things go wrong I guess.


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