There’s no doubt about it. Finding out I was pregnant in April 2013 was the biggest shock OF MY LIFE. To say I wasn’t expecting it is the understatement of the millennium. In fact, because it was such a shock, I had to take 24 pregnancy tests just to confirm my with child status. So much wee. So much money spent on bits of plastic that told me the same thing the one I’d taken 2 hours previously had told me.
I’ll never forget that day I found out I was to become a Mum. Thursday 11th April 2013. About 6:40am to be precise. Life as I knew it would change. Forever. I felt a raft of emotions; excitement, extreme trepidation, happiness, shock. You name it, I pretty much felt it that day.
There was, however, one thing I knew I had to do the second I’d received that second line on the stick of joy and that was to quit the evil fags.
There was never a hesitation. The thought of continuing my dirty habit didn’t even enter my head. I was now pregnant, there was now this new life so dependent on me that I had to do everything humanly possible to ensure its safety, health and wellbeing. No matter what. No excuses.
I’d been a full time smoker for 10 years. It was my crutch. My ‘go to’ when I was stressed or anxious. If I had a glass of wine in my right hand then you’d always see me with a Menthol fag in my left hand. It was just one of those things. The 2 went hand in hand. If I’d had a large meal, a cigarette would soon follow. If I was on the bus stop waiting for the bus to work then I’d be puffing away, killing time. And effectively killing myself as it happens.
There was no way on this Earth, I’d ever put my unborn child’s health at risk. Regardless of how hard it would be to abstain from my long time habit. That’s just how it was.
Now, I know how hard it is to quit smoking. That wasn’t the first time I gave up. I stupidly started smoking a few weeks after giving birth. I could throw you a load of excuses as to why I resumed my old habit, but the long and short of it is, I was weak.
I’m now nearly 5 months into being smoke free and hands down, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m so proud of myself. And, if truth be told, I wish I’d done it years ago.
So, taking all the aforementioned into consideration, I am more than well versed to have an opinion on the issue of smoking, and more pertinently, the recently discussed plans to introduce a new system whereby pregnant women who smoke are awarded shopping vouchers as an incentive to quit the fags.
You mean to tell me that shopping vouchers are a bigger incentive than your unborn child’s health?
Have a word with yourself.
There are so many things wrong with this idea, I’m at a loss as to where to start.
Firstly, let’s look at the backlash from taxpayers, who are quite rightly pissed off they are effectively rewarding the irresponsible. Because I’m afraid that’s what I’ll call you if you’re smoking when pregnant, irresponsible. Oh and selfish, I’ll likely call you selfish too.
I try so hard in life not to judge. What’s that saying, walk a mile in my shoes and all that? But smoke when pregnant and I’ll judge your arse so hard.
You know the risks. You know the health implications. Why oh why would you put your babies health at risk for the sake of your habit? It just makes no sense to me. If you reward the irresponsible then the responsible will soon ask for their reward. Why are they not being handed £260 worth of Love2Shop vouchers because they don’t smoke?
Secondly, what happens if someone successfully gives up smoking for the duration of their pregnancy, then like me goes back to the fags once they give birth (the final instalment of vouchers is made payable 12 weeks post birth, providing the Mother has still abstained in that time). A few months later they get pregnant again, are they going to be handed the vouchers for a second timme or is this just a once in a lifetime offer? How will this scheme actually work in the long run?
Instead of offering a monetised incentive to expectant smoking mothers, how about educating these women on the effects of smoking when pregnant? Offering counselling perhaps? Throwing cash at them is a short term, short sighted solution to a long-term problem. Smoking has long term effects, and this cannot be ignored.
Please don’t think me as holier than thou since I’ve quit the fags. I’m far from it. I’m not perfect, I’ve made some monumental mistakes in my time. However, I can’t sit back and pretend like this idea is a good one. It just smacks of laziness.
I know it’s oh so hard to give up smoking. I know the cravings can be so incredibly overwhelming that there are times you can think of nothing else but sparking up that fag and taking a drag. But this is about priorities and if some new clothes from River Island is more appealing to you than ensuring you give birth to a healthy baby a few months down the line, then I’m afraid, that’s really quite tragic.
A spend up in New Look or a healthy baby?