Smoking When Pregnant

Updated on November 06, 2010
N.S. asks from Buffalo Grove, IL
27 answers

In this day an age it's impossible to NOT KNOW the dangers of smoking when pregnant.

One of my co-workers is smoking while she's pregnant. This has upset a lot of people in our small group (only 10 of us work together) and some of my other co-workers have said something or made comments. We are a small group and are all friends to some degree. We've all worked together for a long time.

This has upset my smoking co-worker. It has upset her so much that she's not speaking to our other co-workers more than she has to.

I try not to get involved in office gossip or politics, I'm there to work so I haven't said anything either way. My personal opinion is I'm appalled that she wouldn't even make an effort to quit and my husband's mom smoked when she was pregnant (they didn't know then what we know now) and as a result he has asthma.

Because I haven't said anything either way, my smoking co-worker comes to ME to complain how others shouldn't "judge her" and it's HER baby and she can do what she wants. Because she's iced out the other co-workers I haven't spoken my mind and I just give her vague answers like "I can see that you're upset" or "I'm sure they only said something because they care" or "Hmmmmmmm."

I don't know if I can take 6 more months of this! No one has said anything to her about it for over a month and yet she still feels "judged" and can't stop talking about it. Every little motion she interprets as being "judged."

My boss is her best friend! So my boss has just said to everyone that she's sensitive because of hormones and we should leave her alone (that was in the beginning). I've mentioned that she's still upset to my boss but she's passed it off as "hormones."

I'm getting to the point where I'd almost rather speak my mind and be "iced out" so I don't have to listen to her rant and rave anymore! Is it hormones? Should I just be understanding? I have a lot of patience but it's wearing thin! Help!

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So What Happened?

Wow...what a hot topic! Who knew it was a can 'o worms?

Just to set the record straight, no one was "harassing her" about smoking. When she found out she was pregnant we all celebrated. When she continued to go out for smoke breaks, a someone asked her if she was going to quit now that she was pregnant. She was indignant from that first remark, and spread it around the office as in "can you believe the nerve of that person, asking if I was going to quit?" At that moment a few co-workers that she complained to said "well, I agree, smoking while you're pregnant can be bad for the baby." It was then that she refused to speak to anyone that said anything about it. I had gotten wind that she was freaking out about it so I said nothing. That was a month ago, and no one has said anything since but she keeps carrying on about it. If someone looks at her funny, she thinks they are judging her. At this point I don't think anyone is judging her for smoking, they are exasperated at her carrying on.

I like one poster's suggestion about not really saying how I feel either way, but just telling her that I don't want to hear about it anymore. If she gets mad at me, oh well. She can be mad at everyone then.

Thanks!

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C.R.

answers from Dallas on

If you want to stay out of it and not be stuck listening to her complain, but you don't want to say it to her face, just say "I know you are upset. I know they are upset. I really don't want to be in the middle, so please don't use me to vent."

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

First off, the fact that she is still smoking does not mean she has not tried. Anyone who is not addicted to cigarettes can not even imagine how hard it is to quit. Second, more than likely part of the reason she is so sensitive about it is because she is also judging herself. I always thought that once I was pregnant I would quit smoking no questions asked, but being pregnant does not make that mountain any easier to climb. If you have never quit, and felt all that happens physically and psychologically when that withdrawal hits, you have no frame of reference here, and no right to judge. If you would prefer she did not talk to you about it anymore, than politely tell her that you would prefer to not be put in the middle, and leave it at that.

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J.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Can you give her medical reasons/examples? Like how smoking reduced oxygen in the blood of the mother, therefore reducing the oxygen to the fetus which can result in life threatening birth defects etc... I mean does she want a child with birth defects that will make raising the child more difficult?
I would really talk to her if she is coming to you, think of the child!

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S.B.

answers from Redding on

I think you should continue to stay out of it.
Yes her hormones are going crazy, and yes, she knows that trying to smoke less or not at all would be a great idea, but it can be easier said than done. She's pregnant, she's got the stress of her job, she's got the stress of people ragging on her for smoking and then she's got that nicotene urge that won't go away. I can promise you, the more stressed and pressured you are, the harder it is to quit smoking. If she chooses to quit or cut down, it will be on her terms and not because a bunch of people she's stuck with all day shamed her into it.
Yes....we know a lot more now than we did years and years ago when women smoked and drank while pregnant.
My mom smoked the entire time she was pregnant with me and my sister and we turned out fine. If smoking causes low birthweight, I shudder to think what I might have weighed at birth. I was 9 pounds for heaven's sake.
Anyway, what she does is really her personal choice and no one has to like it, but they don't need to ride her about it either. I think you should all just come together and agree that it's a non issue. Because it is. It's not YOUR issue, it's not your CO-WORKERS' issues. It's hers.
I work at a hospital and you would faiint if you knew how many doctors and nurses smoke. Of all people, they know the risks and the dangers, of all people they have access to all the medications or hypnosis or whatever other things there are to assist with cessation. They still do it.
She may be struggling a lot harder than you think to try to quit smoking. Let her get it worked out for herself.
Remain on neutral territory. Gently change the subject if she brings it up.

6 months is quite a while, you never know....she may quit before the baby comes.

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K.I.

answers from Seattle on

I am a smoker. As soon as I peed on the stick and saw the 2 pink lines, I never lit up again...all 3 times I was pregnant. It wasn't even an option for me. I just didn't smoke anymore! But as soon as my kids were 1 yrs old and I was done BF, I was right back at it? Lame, I know.

I too, had a co-worker who smoked while pregnant...and I judged her too! I know its wrong to judge...but...seriously? Smoking while pregnant? In this day and age? With all that we know about it? DUMB!

~Sadly, if you cant handle being her shoulder to complain on...your gonna have to "man up" and tell her "Sorry. I agree with the others".

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M.E.

answers from Columbia on

Has anyone asked if she is trying to quit? I had to gradually cut down (dr. order) because the stress of quitting can be dangerous as well. If you do say something be gentle like next time shes bitching just ask her if she is trying to quit or if she wants to quit. The stress at work is not helping if she is trying. And honestly she is not the first or last person to smoke while pregnant. Millions of woman do it and the children are fine. It's like drinking while pregnant You can have 1 woman that gets drunk daily and her kids are fine then you can have that one woman that drank before she even found out and has a child w FAS. Each pregnancy is different. And unless there is another one there that is pregnant who are they to judge? The other people need to worry about their lives. And maybe you can just tell her look I don't approve but thats my opinion. I really don't want to hear about the problem anymore. I enjoy our friendship but this is something I would rather us not talk about.

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R.S.

answers from San Antonio on

I took prescription drugs when pregnant with both my kids...my doctors knew about it...were there risks...yes of course there were risks...even more than we knew then as even newer studies have come out in the past year.

Anyways, I would have felt horrible if anyone had gone off on me about how dangerous it was for me to take the medication while pregnant. I knew it.

She knows how bad smoking is for her and her child...should she be doing it in a perfect world...no...but she is and it is a bit more out there than taking a prescription. I am sure she wants to stop, but added pressure of her co-workers is not going to help that happen.

I would try and be understanding...

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M.B.

answers from St. Louis on

I am 12 weeks pregnant and was a smoker before I found out. Trust me, quitting is the one of the hardest things I've had to do. With the stress, hormones, and quitting on top on it, ITS A MESS. My body and my family has felt the wrath of this, and thats not easy either. ITS HARD. No, no one should smoke, its bad for you, but unless you have had that addiction, you dont understand. I also have anxiety too, so it would also make me panic. Seriously, horrible. My mother has always "nagged" me to stop (shes a lovely reformed smoker that smoke in presence my whole life) but anyways, nagging and shunning her is not going to help. Shes going through enough already.
How about instead of being judgemental and mean, give her encouraging words to help her quit. Even though she has smoked until now, if she stopped she could greatly help her baby.
Again, I think its a little immature for an adult to be shunned like this, but I guess thats life. Pretty sad.

P.S. Amen what Riley said!

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D.B.

answers from Charlotte on

While I agree that it's best not to keep beating a dead horse like your coworkers have done (and she has stopped talking to them as a result), she is pushing it complaining to you. I really think that if it kept up, I would say this to her: "Jane, you have to know that NO ONE thinks you should be smoking. Some have said it to your face, some just keep it to themselves. You really should not be pushing to anyone that you feel judged doing something that is hurting your baby. You should just keep quiet about it because you aren't going to make anyone see your side of it."

That will take care of the next 6 months, and actually might make her THINK about how she might be wrong here.

D.

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D.S.

answers from Tulsa on

its hormones but the peer pressure to quit smoking is annoying as h*** it gets old like we dont act appropriately no one would be our friend except other smokers. it is almost to the point we get harrassed for being an individual. I tried to quit while preg with both of my boys with no sucsess and still smoke I have tried to quit 7 times and have a very strong addiciton to it. peer pressure isnt going to take away an addiction. an addiction is hard to break. all we hear is nag nag nag nag. bit** bit** whine about how we should be a robot and do what you think is best for us and how we are abusing our children cause we have an addiction. niether of my boys have asthma that is another peer pressure tatic to force us into quitting and I dont personally blame her for being mad.

they should have kept their mouth shut and minded their own buisness to begin with instead of trying to make her conform to thier rules or else. tell her she needs to vent to them not you you didnt say it and you shouldnt be punished for what they did. smokers get judged everytime we light up like we dont have an addiction and should be able to stop because you say so. you are not our parents and have no place acting like our parents. if i wanted to be nagged at I would call my dad. we get dirty looks in public and maybe they are not saying it but giving her the go to h*** looks which is still judging.

yes you might care for the baby but saying we dont care enough to quit is bs. we try and you still judge cause we dont adhere to your social rules. I think she has the right to be mad. instead of judging her why didnt someone bring her an electronic cigarette to try. I did try them when I was pregnant because I didnt want to smoke while pregnant but like I said its an addiction she shouldnt be punished for.

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J.S.

answers from Cleveland on

I feel so badly for you, being put in such a position. I wish I had some good advice for you :(

She should feel JUDGED! I think we need more people to feel judged in our society. People are so selfish and stupid, someone needs to speak up for her poor baby who does not have a say. She knows it is WRONG, and cares more about a damn smoke than her own baby. I wish I could look at her and say, quit your whining and do what is RIGHT!

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H.W.

answers from Albany on

I would speak your mind, and then deal with the icyness.

It's HER baby, does that mean she is going to let it do all sorts of unthinkable things?!? It's HER baby so shouldn't she want what is the absolute best for the child that is within her power to acheive!!

It doesn't sound like it would be impossible for her to give up smoking. I wish she was in Australia, our hospital staff and doctors would tell her exactely what is what about being so stupid as to smoke while pregnant.
My husband smokes and they would give him a talking to about it!

Hormones?? Hormones are meant to make us care more about our child. She sounds like a selfish person who obviously knows that what she is doing is wrong because she's so sensitive about it.

What is there to be understanding about? Negligence!?!?

I'm sorry, this just really gets my goat.
You don't even have to tell her exactely what you think, just say I'm sorry I don't agree with you and turn away. She'll know.
Best of luck dealing with this one.

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J.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

After my 4th pregnancy test I quit cold turkey. I was a pack (or more) a day smoker. I didn't have any side effects, but I loved to be around my co-workers who smoked, my room mate who smoked, and after we stopped nursing I went right back to it. Granted, I don't smoke as much as I did.
The next time your co worker approaches you I would just tell her your personal opinion but in a nice way. Something along the lines of
"Honestly, I am dissapointed that you are smoking while you are pregnant, and I think it's wrong. BUT it is your body, and you know all the risks involved so thats your choice. AND the others in the office are entitled to their opinion. There is no win here. You are going to be judged for your choices your whole life, this is just one of them, you are going to have to learn how to deal with it."
Hopefully she gets the hint you don't approve of it either, and your on no one's "side" but your own, that you just want to do your work.
Good Luck!

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P.W.

answers from Dallas on

Wow, you are in a bad position. You've handled it well so far. You've been patient and understanding and not judgmental. However, that doesn't mean you have to continue to listen to the whining.

I'd be honest. Tell her you have tried to keep your opinion to yourself because you like everyone in the office and don't won't to be put in the middle. You are sorry she feels judged. You can even say to her, "Maybe you are worrying about this so much because you really aren't comfortable being a pregnant smoker. Or maybe you think smoking is fine and won't hurt anything. I don't know and I have no desire to judge you. You are a big girl and can make your own decisions. I'll be your friend either way, but I don't want to hear about it anymore."

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3.B.

answers from Cleveland on

Im not going to read all the other posts, but if anyone got on their soapbox and said it's her choice, and she should beleft alone blah blah that's B.S., Does this baby get a choice? If she doesn't like it, too bad. once you become pregnant it's NOT your body anymore. That baby didnt ask to be born, and is also not asking to be poisoned everyday.

I WAS a smoker when I got pregnant. And I QUIT. Was it hard, yes. But not NEARLY as hard as the other times I had previously tried to quit and failed. I knew I OWED it to my unborn child to not force toxins into his little developing body. I CHOSE to bring this new life into the world, I OWED it to my baby to give him a good start.
I get soooo angry at people on here who would dare say she should be left alone, don't harass her etc. Who's going to be the advocate for this unborn child? What a selfish woman. If I were you, I'd nicely say "You know what, I don't agree with what you're doing either, but Im trying to keep my opinion to myself. And I'd rather just not hear about it anymore"
That poor baby

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J.V.

answers from Chicago on

Two of my good friends smoked while pregnant. Hell, a whole generation of women smoked and drank --a lot-- while pregnant. I am the result of that generation, and I have a Ph.D.

It really is no one else business what someone puts in their body. Let me rephrase that, I really would hate to live in a country where someone else got to decide what I did or didn't do with my body. Make it your business all you want, but it isn't your business.

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T.W.

answers from Denver on

My cousin is smoking while pregnant too and I just DO NOT UNDERSTAND! How in the world you can knowingly put your baby at risk is beyond me. Now I am done with my rant. I think you need to be too. I am sure part of her sensitivity to it is hormones but I am sure a part of her feels the guilt of her actions and she just does not have the will power to quit.

If I were you, i would remove myself completely. I would nicely tell her that although you understand how upset she is feeling you cannot be the one she confides in on this one. Just be honest with her. Say you enjoy working with her, you enjoy her as a friend but this issue is wearing thin on you and you just do not have the energy for it. It may even come to you telling her that her actions are going to bring controversy and she just might have to own up to it but it is HER decision and not YOUR fight.

She may be mad or she may not, but you need to take care of yourself. She isn't even willing to make a sacrifice for her baby, why in the world would she make any concessions for you. Just do what you have to do and move on. You never know, she may actually ask you right out if you are opposed to the smoking and then you can lay it out there. You may even have an impact on her since you have taken the high road.

In short, you do not have to take this on, but you can move on. Just stick up for yourself.

Good luck!

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V.B.

answers from Philadelphia on

I had to deal with a similar situation once, my ex's sister was 7 months pregnant and had smoked the entire pregnancy. No one could get her to stop and even though family had brought it up to her constantly, she didn't care because she was giving up the baby for adoption (that excuse sickened me). I tried to stay out of it because I felt like it wasn't my place to say anything since her own family members tried to get her to stop and she still didn't. I was really uncomfortable around her while she did it and ignored her.
I can't believe that your boss tried to say that it was the "hormones". There's never an excuse for common sense! You don't have to be understanding if you don't agree with her. She knows what she's doing is wrong and that's why she gets defensive when people bring it up.

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N.L.

answers from Chicago on

I think anyone who continues a bad habit while pregnant is not ready to be a parent and is just thinking of themselves. A child is a huge responsbility for the rest of your life, so if you cannot give something up for 9 months, I have to wonder how flexible you will be down the road. After having a child, you life is no longer yours... it is that child's.

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L.L.

answers from Orlando on

My sister still smokes and she is almost due! She only smokes like 1 per day. So she cut down ... but i TOTALLY think it is wrong. 100%. I even make rude comments when she smokes around me and tell her that her baby can't breath and is sucking in all that smoke. Oh well. My sister just basically shrugs it off. I don't understand how anyone pregnant can continue to smoke.

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L.M.

answers from New York on

Since you agree with the coworkers, the next time she comes to you to complain, speak your mind. Tell her you agree with your coworkers, that you care about her and don't like seeing her harming herself and her baby, however, you respect her right to make those choices.

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M.N.

answers from Chicago on

You already have a ton of opinions which I didnt read but it might help to slip on her desk early in the am an article on smoking while pregnant, what it can do to the fetus and that after birth it has a much greater risk of SIDS even if she returns to smoking after. I like how she says it's "my baby" a baby is not a posession, it's a human and if you truley love someone then you will do whats best for the baby not already give it an issue prior to coming out.
I'm not good at stepping back and not saying anything. I had this topic on my fb page and every single person was outraged but one! It was about a woman I had seen smoking and pregnant. Even my guy friends were mad!

When you have a baby it's no longer about her its about the baby. What if that baby comes out with an issue and you didnt atleast try to talk to your coworker? how would you feel then?

K.E.

answers from Spokane on

Leave it alone. It's not your battle. I would save my energy for my own issues.

B.K.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi
From a psychological point of view the fact that she keeps talking about it and feeling judged is that she knows what she is doing is wrong for her and the baby.
If she didn't she wouldn't care what people think and would just smoke and say nothing.
Personally I go through phases of smoking,smoke for a few month,quit ,back on etc.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant I quit immediately with no problems. Actually the sight of fags made me wretch.
I'm back smoking again(demon addiction) but trying for another baby so will DEFINELY quit again as soon as I am pregnant.Thats my personal view.To be honest I can't stand watching pregnant women smoking.
As for your situation I would try to keep out of it as much as possible and not get involved with the bitching.If she starts saying anything to you ,you can still give an oponion without being nasty.Just say personally you don't agree with it but you respect her choice etc.
Best of luck
B.

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D.M.

answers from Pittsburgh on

You mean well and like you, I agree she should not smoke, however this is her baby and this is her body, she will only quit if she wants to so try to get a hold of your emotions. I agree it's wrong of her not to see the wrong in smoking because of the health hazard she's putting her baby through but honestly, what can you do? Grab the cigarrette out of her hand? You can't do a single thing about it, talking with her as you know will leave her cold to you so just handle your OWN emotions about it, if she wants to quit she will on her own not because people are judging her and pushing her or talking about her, it's her body, it's her baby and just get a hold of how you feel.

M.L.

answers from Houston on

Stay out of it. When she complains to you, I would simply and calmly say, "I'd rather not be put in the middle." If she keeps ranting and raving and pushing the issue, I would be honest in a caring way and say, "They are just concerned for the health of the baby, because smoking while pregnant can cause premature labor, long term health effects, low birth weight and other harmful side effects. But I know it's your choice what you choose to do with your baby. Have you considered quitting for the time being for your child?"

It's so sad, it's almost worse to smoke around babies and children than it is to smoke while pregnant though. We had a friends mom who would smoke around us so much it made us sick, in the car at the home, everywhere she could... some people think they are only damaging their health and don't care about what they do to everyone else.

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

I haven't read any of the other posts yet, but yes we all know what smoking can do to everyone and yes the world is still filled with smokers pregnant or other wise. Do you dislike her? Or her smoking? She knows really knows what she is doing. My husband knows, he doesn't ever attempt to stop, my neighbor knows, my friend who has throat cancer knows, we all know it can do harm to a lot of people. But no matter how much you or anyone else says, she is the ultimate decision maker. You would do best to continue to be the same as you always were, it is your job and to applause her success if she decides to cut back or stop. Your job is a job, sadly that is it. And it can end and you might need references one day. And since you said your boss is her best friend if you can disengage yourself from the whole thing, I'd suggest you do that. I am sure you are all worried about the baby,and no excuses here, there are a lot of women and men who were born to smokers and barring some health problems not related I am alive and well and have a college degree. You want baby to get the best start in life of course, but you also need to protect yourself and this issue could eventually cost someone their job I think you ought to continue to stay neutral.

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