Lot of women are still choosing to smoke cigarettes during pregnancy. Stress, nervousness and loneliness are among the three main triggers for the onset of smoking. Between cigarettes and e-cigarettes, the latter are perceived as less harmful.
Catania, 14 March 2023- Smoking during pregnancy is one of the most compromising habits for the health of women and for that of the unborn child and is linked to an increase risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth and to the risk of stillbirth. The baby may be at risk to be born too early and face respiratory, feeding, and health problems that are often associated with premature birth.
Link to the study: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10550887.2023.2184302?journalCode=wjad20
Unfortunately, although maternal instinct can be a precious weapon and an extra boost to definitively quit smoking, there are still many steps to be taken to help women on this path. A group of CoEHAR researchers from the University of Catania conducted a qualitative analysis on a small sample of pregnant women who used traditional cigarettes and alternative nicotine-release products, electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products, to evaluate habits, feelings and perceptions toward smoking and vaping.
In the study “Qualitative study on the perception of combustible cigarettes, e-cigarettes and heated tobacco cigarettes among pregnant women”, three psychological reasons for the onset of smoking were found and analyzed: feelings of stress, nervousness, and loneliness. Moreover, most of the women stated that they started smoking during adolescence or pre-adolescence. Quite unexpectedly, researchers were surprised to find out that there is a lot of distrust and little knowledge of official smoking cessation therapies, and because of this, participants stated that they can quit smoking whenever they want and only with their own willpower.
“Women who continue to smoke during pregnancy are those who choose to ignore the red flags for their own health and for that of the unborn child – explains Marilena Maglia, first author of the study and researcher of the ECLAT spin off of the University of Catania – a wrong and counterproductive choice”.
Researchers were particularly interested in finding and analyzing the motivations and the psychological factors for the onset of smoking to evaluate which factors could have influenced women’s decisions in such a delicate and stressful period of their lives. Three psychological reasons were found: feelings of stress, nervousness, and loneliness.
Participants were asked about their relationship to smoking and 10% of them said that smoking makes them less nervous and 6.6% of them recognize smoking as a companion that never leaves them alone.
Almost half of the participants identified adolescence as a critical moment. The desire to be accepted by the group and by peers were powerful reasons that encouraged many girls to try smoking, often triggering a mechanisms that set an addiction that is difficult to quit over the years.
Even during pregnancy, the bond with smoking is so strong that most of the sample communicates not voluntarily learning about the health risks that may arise.
A critical scenario that needs further research and study.
“The research compared the perception of traditional, electronic and heated tobacco cigarettes in pregnant women and highlighted the need to receive information and support during prenatal courses– explained Pasquale Caponnetto, professor of clinical psychology Clinic at the Department of Educational Sciences of the University of Catania and CoEHAR member – it is necessary to invest in prevention and education regarding the potential harm that comes from smoking during pregnancy and to raise awareness towards effective therapies”.