Smoking While Pregnant

This week’s celebrity outrage is over Chrissy Swan admitting to smoking while pregnant. If you are on twitter, there’s all kinds of opinions out there. Here are some examples.

Some people are outraged that she did it, some are outraged that people are crucifying her for it (or are “judging” her for it), and others seem to fall somewhere in between, perhaps pitying her. Ordinarily I’m an advocate for women (and people in general) doing what they want with their own bodies. If you want to drink heaps, smoke pot, do drugs, eat junk food 7 days a week, not brush your teeth, not wear your seatbelt, insert any other irresponsible activity here, then by all means go for it. But when you are pregnant and you do these things, you risk causing significant harm, possibly death, to your unborn child. The warnings can not be any clearer, nor simpler.

To the people who say a pregnant woman’s body is her’s and her’s only, I say this. It is her body, but she is sharing it with a baby, she is growing another human being, she is creating the miracle of life. That is not a right. It is a privilege and an honour.

To the people who say smoking is an addiction, I say this. If smoking is ok, then what else is ok? Alcoholism? Heroin? Cocoaine? All addictions that carry severe warnings and risks for anybody, let alone women who are pregnant!

To the people who feel sorry for Chrissy right now, I say this. What about the babies – born and unborn – who are subjected to parents who give them the worst possible start in life? Would you walk in the middle of the road and risk getting hit by a car? Would you let your toddler in the pool unsupervised? Then why do anything while pregnant that carries a higher risk of stillbirth, SIDS, premature birth, heart defects and more.

Is it really none of our business? If we know a pregnant woman who is abusing her body and her unborn child, then who’s business is it? Who is going to stand up for the child when they certainly have no voice of their own? It doesn’t mean I think I’m perfect. It certainly doesn’t mean I haven’t made some mistakes. My son fell off the bed when he was an infant. Twice. He fell out of the car when he was a toddler. I am not a perfect mother. There is no such thing. But for the love of healthy babies, if you KNOW something is “wrong” – she admitted that much – please seek help from a GP or other health practitioner.

If you really think smoking while pregnant is not a big deal, please read this. I don’t say all this to judge Chrissy. I don’t say it all because I think I am better than her, or because I think it is easy to stop smoking. I say it because people need to be educated about issues such as this, and I say it because people need to be held accountable for their actions. They also should know there are plenty of places to go to get help. All you have to do is go to the movies to see the Quit For You, Quit for Two campaign.

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I don’t think issues like this should be brushed under the rug. I don’t think it should be excused for any reason. As women and as mums, we don’t have to crucify Chrissy Swan or the other 14.5%* of women who smoke while pregnant in Australia. Most of them will be disappointed in themselves enough, without having to worry about what we all think about them.But we also shouldn’t enable them and make excuses for them. Let’s educate them and get them help! For their sake and their child’s.

* source


30 thoughts on “Smoking While Pregnant

  1. I hope that the upside of the Chrissie story will be increased awareness, if nothing else. I’ve seen a few blogs like yours and other places with ads for the Quit for Two campaign this week, so let’s hope more people will be able to get help if they need it.

  2. In the discussion on my facebook page, someone mentioned that as a society we will vilify Chrissie for smoking because it harms the baby, but support abortion because it is the woman’s body. Personally, I would never do either.
    I had one cigarette when pregnant with my eldest, and the minute she was born, I felt so guilty. That one had not effected her, but she was so perfect, I hated the thought that I had done anything that might have hurt her.
    I’m with you. Once you carry that life, it’s not just your body, and you have to stop doing certain things. I also think we have no idea what is going on in her life, and whilst I don’t condone her actions, I certainly will not judge her for it. None of us have the right to do that.
    Great post Aroha

    • Thanks Jess. She has shared a bit of what is going on in her life – a TV show, 2 radio shows, a surprise 3rd pregnancy, traveling back and forth between Syd and Melb, while managing a house, 2 kids and a husband. Obviously a very stressful time. I hope she gets help. Seems like she just added a whole lot more stress. I feel bad for her in the sense that if she was just an average Jane Doe on the street, she certainly wouldn’t be getting this kind of attention over smoking while pregnant. But she is in the public eye, so of course this will get her a lot of unwanted attention. Let’s hope this educates lots of women on the dangers of smoking while pregnant.

  3. Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses lovely. You are right Chrissie doesn’t need to be crucified, guaranteed she is doing that just fine by herself. My heart goes out to her more than words can possibly explain. She is after all only a human with a terrible addiction one that is not always easy to quit regardless of what the implications of continuing may be.

    • I think, and it’s not a professional opinion by any means, that addictions are more than just an addiction to the item (drinks, smokes, whatever), it’s an escape from your reality. It’s a coping mechanism, a habit. I just hope she (and any other pregnant women who are smoking) can get the help they need.

  4. I agree that Chrissie should not be crucified, nor have her behaviour condoned. I have always liked her as a TV personality – she makes me laugh. I get her humour. My first thought when I heard the news was, smoking must be a terrible addiction. I have no idea how strong the hold is because I’m not a smoker. Maybe some good will come out of all this? Maybe someone out there will think twice before smoking whilst pregnant?

    • I think some good will come of this. And I think people will still love Chrissy. I think she’s hilarious and love Can of Worms. I hope she gets some help and can cut out some stress in her life. Sure sounds like she has too much going on!

  5. I’m open to many parenting styles and I don’t usually judge even if it’s different from mine but one thing I will not stand for is smoking with kids, or being pregnant. Sometimes I see pregnant ladies smoking and I feel like going up to scold them. It may not be my business but I feel so strongly about it. Maybe I should and maybe one day I will.

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    • Ooooh Ai!!! I know what you mean. I feel like scolding parents who just smoke around their children, let alone the ones that are pregnant and smoking. Mostly it just kills me because I think “Why can they treat their body like crap and get pregnant, and I am healthy and active and I can’t?”

  6. I will admit that I have judged other women for smoking while pregnant, those that I have personally known to smoke heavily and not care. I also know that they have done other things (like taking drugs chronically and drinking) that put their unborn baby at risk and I will judge them, especially because those that I have know in that situation don’t see anything wrong with their behaviour because others they know have done the same thing and their babies were fine, or they did the same with their first and think because there were no issues it will be ok a second time.

    I have tried to help, offer advice and support to cut out the bad and risky behaviours and had it thrown back in my face. I have seen the pain it has caused when this has not been the case and they have lost the baby, the guilt that they have felt, but sadly not enough guilt to make them change their lives or do things differently the next time.

    I have felt sorry for them, but I have still judged them. Harsh I know, but to see these people do the same things over and over with no regard to their unborn children or the ones they have living with them, it makes me angry and when so many people are struggling to have a child, and they can’t even stop smoking or doing drugs for their child, there is only so much compassion you can have after a while. Addictions are hard to break-free from, I know first-hand, but in the end people have to make a choice and when they don’t even care and don’t see any problem with smoking drugs or other harmful behaviour, often in front of their kids, I just get so sad and angry for those kids.

    Sorry for the rant and hijacking your blog, it seems I haven’t quite gotten over the behaviour of some former friends. Probably this could be a blog post in itself!

    There is a big difference between that kind of person and attitude that I’ve written about above though, and the attitude that Chrissie clearly has. She knows she is doing the wrong thing, she has tried to stop and she doesn’t do it as often as I’ve seen some women. So I applaud her that she is trying to do the right thing and stop and I feel sorry for her that she has to be subjected to some of the vitriol that she is now getting. Quitting smoking is hard and people need support and I think what Chrissie really needs is support from people and she will be able to stop. And I can’t imagine she would be the kind of person who would throw that support back in someone’s face either as she clearly wants to make a change.

    • You didn’t hijack the blog, I appreciate your input! And I think there’s a big difference between Chrissy and the likes of the girls you’re describing. How can losing a child not be enough to make you change your ways? honestly some people don’t deserve to be mothers.

  7. This is great Aroha. I hope that now it is being spread all over social media it will raise awareness. I cringe internally when I see a pregnant women smoking, breaks my heart and infuriates me at the same time.

  8. I hope this situation is used to put a spotlight on Smoking during Pregnancy, and provides more advocacy to help people struggling to quit, but at the same time I cannot condone at all what she did. I don’t really feel sorry for her, because as someone in the public arena she knew what the ramifications would be if she was caught doing.

    • I think she’s probably copping the brunt of everyone who has ever been angry at a stranger who is smoking while pregnant but hasn’t been able to say so. Now we have a public figure who we think is fair game because of her celebrity status. From what I’ve read and seen she seems genuinely ashamed, and I really hope her situation helps a lot of others. But I agree, and don’t at all condone her actions at all. 😦

  9. Very hard topic. Great post. In an ideal world, we should be judegement free and offer help to those who need it. In a judgement free world, those who need help would ask for it without any stigma, taboo or guilt. I heard Chrissie Swan on the radio this morning driving into work and she is tackling this issue very well. I hope that others may learn from her experience and realsie that their bad habits DO harm their children. Maybe if they escape physical harm, there remains the issue of environmental harm the minute they are born into a smokers household.

    • In an ideal world she’d have never been smoking to start with, right? Unfortunately the world is far from ideal 😦 And you’re so right – it’s not just while she’s pregnant that she’s endangering bub, the effects can be long-term once she’s born, too!

  10. Thank you for writing this post! Seriously have been biting my tongue with some of the tweets I’ve been reading. I stopped chocolate all together and cut back on carbs unable to eat certain foods for 2 pregnancies…. Maybe not the same as cigarettes but I did it for my baby. Even tho I winged about it and some days the needles in my stomach killed and I felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore. That I really just wanted 1 piece of chocolate. I didn’t. While I agree that putting Christine out to dry isn’t right especially when pregnant cant imagine the stress she’s gone through aswell. I’ve seen a heavily pregnant mum at the school run light up morning and afternoon every day when she picks up her child. It’s an issue. There comes a point when that foetus turns into a baby. Hopefully some good comes out of the whole thing.

    • I am hearing ya Jocelyn! As soon as you find out your pregnant you’re responsible for that human life growing inside of you. It’s no longer just your body. I hope lots of good comes from this and lots of women learn about the dangers of smoking while pregnant.

  11. Great post. I didn’t have the guts to say how I felt on this topic to be honest, because everyone around me seemed to feel ‘so sorry’ for Chrissy…I just feel sorry for that baby, and I think she has made the choice to be in the public eye. Everything she does will be under scrutiny. It might not be fair, but it’s a part of her job description.

    Found you through FYBF

    • Yep, unfortunately that’s what happens when you’re a public figure – people will catch your every slip up. People only feel so sorry for her because of her celebrity status. I’m sure they judge the woman walking down the street who is pregnant and smoking. I think Chrissy is copping all the flak from everyone who ever wanted to say something but hasn’t!

  12. I strongly disagree with women doing anything that will harm their unborn child, on the other hand I feel Chrissie is being put under a lot of pressure and stress after being “caught” lighting up. However, Isn’t the stress that she is incurring over her bad choice causing her unborn child harm as well ?
    It is sad that this poor little baby is “caught” in the middle so to speak and may endure continuing problems from his/her mothers poor choice.

  13. Good on you Aroha. I tentatively put up a tweet in sympathy of Chrissie copping so much verbal criticism for her actions. But I agree with you, these issues need to be made public and people need to know the dangers. I feel that vaccination and not smacking children are also social responsibilities, that strongly affect the child, and those around us. We abide by certain Rules like driving on the correct side of the road, but other things we consider ‘choice’ even though our actions put others at risk. Rant over.
    Thanks for speaking out. x

  14. I’m completely against smoking during pregnancy. But an addiction is a very personal thing that effects different people in different ways. I’m not making excuses for her and Chrissie Swan is not making excuses for herself. She realises it’s the intervention she needed to have. In some ways, people like this, subconsciously want to get caught because they don’t have the will power to stop themselves.
    She’s written a solid piece to tell her side of her story.
    Again, I’m not saying that an addiction makes it any easier to deal with. But I hope in an open minded society, we give her the chance to listen to what she has to say.

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