D.B. asks from Fair Lawn, NJ on September 28, 2006
I kind of have a problem with my mother in law who smokes. She does not smoke in the house, but her clothes STInK of smoke all the time. I am due in about a month and I do not want my child breathing that in. There are times when I cannot even sit next to her because I cannot breathe from the smoke that lingers in her clothes. The first place a baby's face goes into is your shirt, and I don't know what to do. How do I fix this problem?
M.M. answers from Portland on September 29, 2006
First and foremost its your child and your decision. However you will want help with the baby at some point in your life and dont want to make family feel unwanted. (even the unrequested advice!!!) My personal recommendation is: Handwashing is easy....require it of everyone anyway, smokers and non-smokers. ON the smokers, tell them " I know Im a first time mom and being a very neurotic, but it would make me feel so much better to have you change that shirt, here wear this cool one I bought specially for your visits.......)
That will ease the transition......and you can even prewash the shirt in baby detergent to use that as part of an example.
Anyway best wishes. Its all a balancing act!
M.A. answers from Boston on September 29, 2006
Second hand smoke, in the clothes, the child is inhaling the nicotine, and can still grow up and receive a mild form of asthma. I can only tell you one example: a close friend of mine who has 4 children, married; she had to tell her father that unless he didn't smoke during the duration that he was visiting his grandkids, he could not come over, and her father decided not to come over. Because of this, he has never met his 4 year old grandson. It is sad, but you have to think of the health of your children and yourself. It's a tough decision, but health comes above all.
H.R. answers from Boston on September 29, 2006
I completely understand where you are coming from. My Mother in Law and Sister in Law smoke as well as a bunch of other extended family members.
I simply sat down (easier said than done.... it took me 6 months to get the courage) with her and tell her your feelings. My Mother in Law now smokes only outside and she has to change her shirt or wear a coat when she smokes. In result she has cut down her smoking overall and especially when she comes to visit.
My doctor also wrote a "Rx" that said ... no one is to smoke around Dominick at any time. He may get asthma if not followed or something to that extent. I had that on my fridge as a gentle reminder.
This may not work for all but seemed to work overall... and no she did not take it very well at first...but, once she had a chance to think about it and the health of her grandsons (number three is on the way by her daughter) she has more than accepted it...it has become habit and automatic.
HOpe this helps a little. Good luck with your delivery... and cherish your little one!!
D. answers from New York on October 02, 2006
My doc's office suggested keeping a stack of clean t-shirts by the door for people to change into. Explain your problems and tell her that if she wants to hold the baby she'll change her shirt and wash her hands. My hubby did that for the first month or so. He smokes, not in the house, and he kept a shirt by the door that he'd change into to go out and smoke.
N.K. answers from New York on September 29, 2006
I went through the same thing. Only with my husband and my own mother. They both smoke. I quit the day I found out I was pregnant and never looked back. 2nd best thing that came out of my pregnancy (first being my baby of course). My husband never really believed that the smoke and nicotine stayed on him via his hair, hands, clothes and in his mouth. He would smoke outside then come in and go right for the baby. I would ask him to at least wash his hands. I wanted him to take a shower and get into new clothes after every time he smoked but that was not going to happen. My mother was an easy one though. When I quit smoking I would tell her whenever she smelled and she was very self-conscious of it. She would immediatley wash her hands and change her shirt. We lived with her when my first daughter was born and she knew that if she wanted to come near or hold the baby, she had to wash up and change her shirt first thing when she got home from work. My husband never did but I think that had to do with his hatred of authority. He would feel like I was boss if he gave in to my wants and wash up before going to her. I still have to ask him to wash his hands when he gets home from work and our kids are now 3 1/2 and 18 months. He is actually smoke free for 10 days now, longest he's ever gone. I'm hoping it sticks. I pretty much stopped kissing and cuddling with him and kept telling him his smell is offensive and would go back to being lovey once he stopped. I know you said this was about your mother in law though, so I digress. My advice, is to tell her that second hand smoke can also be breathed in from a smokers hair, face, clothes & hands and you would like her to keep a change of clothes (at least a shirt) at your house for her to change into when she comes to see the baby. I say to keep it at your house so you can wash it and it will remain in a smoke free environment for when she wears it around your baby. Also, keep those anitbacterial hand sanitizers in everyroom as a "suttle" hint. This is YOUR child and you have every right. When you are in the hospital after you give birth the nurses and dr's will all tell you to always wash your hands, even as a non-smoker, before picking up or touching baby. If you need some backup, ask your obgyn for pamphlets or go online and print out the dangers of second hand smoke. I really hope you put your foot down and stand strong on this issue. It is your baby's health and it's up to you to enforce this. Best of luck to you and baby!!!
P.S. answers from New York on September 29, 2006
What does your husband have to say about this? does he smoke? Is he in agreement with you? I understand completely how you feel. I grew up in a stinky smoke filled household. Maybe if you and your husband can kindly offer her a fresh shirt while she's at your house because you are a new mom and a bit protective. Make it seem like your just doing what you think is best for your new baby. Let her know that she is loved and you are excited to introduce her new grandchild to her. Good luck, in-laws can sometimes be pesky.
B.R. answers from Bangor on October 12, 2006
When I read what you wrote it reminded me of myself when I was pregnant. My mother and my mother in law smoke and I hate it. I did not want them to hold the baby because of their clothes stinking too! You can't change that the smoke will be on the clothes but you can make sure hands are washed. That is what I insisted on. And talk to your mother in law with love about how you feel.
I hope this information helps you.