There are a lot of things pregnant ladies aren't supposed to do - ride rollercoasters, sit in hot tubs, eat stinky cheese but there seems to be a special circle in hell reserved for women that indulge in their love of nicotine.
Recently there was a study that suggested we should offer vouchers to mothers that quit smoking and the country was in uproar, why should women be rewarded for such a heinous habit? Maybe I'm sensitive because I've been known to have a sneaky smoke with a G&T but my thoughts are if a bit of my tax helps one of my sisters kick the habit, I'll happily empty my purse.
I think a lot of people are under the misguided impression that smoking is a choice. It's an addiction, like the time you tried to give up Dairy Milk but a thousand times harder. I did not inhale a single drag when I was pregnant or breastfeeding, I didn't even think about it, but I don't want back pats for that. I respect myself less than mothers that struggle to stop because it means that I care for myself far less than I care for my son and that is not a lesson I ever want him to learn.
When pregnant I also lived in London, inhaling all manner of carcinogins daily, working long hours and fighting my way onto the tube. No one shunned me, in fact they gave me their seats! Some could argue I was not doing the best for my baby. But you had no choice, I hear you cry. I have to ask myself is that honest? I could have stopped working, sat on my hands till my due date. Was the stress I put my body under any worse than one cigarette a month? Two? Three? I don't know. I do know that we make the best decisions we can with the resources we have and we should be respected despite those decisions.
To be clear this post is not a get out of jail free card for anyone craving a fag. If you are thinking of getting pregnant or recently bunned your oven get off the nicotine express now. Get help. Go to your GP and ask for help. Don't do that thing where you pretend to have ten units of alcohol a week and eat all your greens. Secrets hurt us, tell everyone you know you smoke and want to stop. If anything you might help someone else from feeling too self conscious to look for advice. It will be hard but you will do it; because if this is your first baby and you think this is hard - you ain't seen nothing yet.
Support and information for pregnant women that want to quit smoking can be found at Evidently Cochrane, Pregnets and Babycentre.