She warns that because nicotine causes the blood pressure to go up, pregnant women should not smoke and use the patch (or gum or spray). Dr. Phelan recommends that pregnant smokers use the smallest dose for the shortest amount of time possible.
The Sweet Smell of Success
Dr. Phelan estimates that more than half of pregnant smokers end up quitting. She says that percentage can go as high as 80 percent when doctors intervene. However, the 2004 Surgeon General's Report paints a far less optimistic picture stating that fewer than 25 percent of women smokers will quit once they become pregnant.
For those who experience temporary setbacks, Dr. Phelan says to keep in mind, "It is incredibly addicting, so it is incredibly difficult to stop. And it will take trial and error, and it will take motivation ... It's a behavioral change, not a social weakness."
"[A setback] doesn't mean that they're a failure," says Dr. Phelan. "It just means that they had an opportunity to learn a little more about themselves, what causes them to smoke." And with that information, pregnant women can rethink their smoking cessation strategies to prevent another relapse.