Swindon mum quits smoking for the sake of her baby and encourages others to follow
“It really is the best thing I’ve ever done” – that’s how new-born mum Kyrie Dixon feels about stopping smoking, and her family is equally thrilled.
The 26-year-old mum, from Toothill, is approaching her first anniversary of being smoke-free, having smoked more than 20-a-day before falling pregnant, and hopes her experience will inspire other mums-to-be to quit.
She said: “I’m still surprised that I actually managed to do it, but it feels great. I’ll never go back now and if anyone else wants to stop, I’d say you’ve just got to bite the bullet.
"I’d wanted to give up for years and it was always tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. You’ve got to stop making excuses, get yourself in the right frame of mind and go for it.”
The turning point for Kyrie came when she fell pregnant with her son James, now four and a half months old.
“My partner Lee, who has never smoked, had been going on about it for ages but I kept putting it off. My pregnancy was the extra trigger I needed,” she said.
“I knew I didn’t want to harm my baby, so it was quite simple – I had to stop.”
Kyrie went to her doctors and was referred to the Swindon Stop Smoking Service, provided by SEQOL, which has a specialist midwife who offers one-to-one support for expectant mums who want to stop. Overall, 80 per cent of women who use this service successfully quit.
“My midwife was lovely and her encouragement really made a difference – we’re still in touch. I don’t think I could have done it alone. She took my carbon monoxide levels and showed me the potential damage it was doing to my baby. There was no pressure and she was really friendly. She also gave me the cold hard facts – that was all I needed,” Kyrie said.
“I was given an inhalator to help with the nicotine cravings, but after day three I had stopped using it and went cold turkey. I think everyone was surprised I did it, including myself. But I was strong and knew more than anything I didn’t want to and I couldn’t let my baby down.”
Kyrie, who has three other children Shaun, three, Morgan, six, and Ryan, seven, found it easier to give up during her previous pregnancies but eventually returned to the habit after the birth.
“Before I was physically repulsed by smoking, so stopping came naturally. I always said I wouldn’t go back to it, but when you’re a stressed-out mum somehow you slip into it and the cigarette becomes the thing that gets you through the day.”
Since giving up last August, Kyrie has found a new way to cope with the pressures which prompted a cigarette craving.
“I now sit down and make crafts with the kids. They love it and that makes me feel much calmer and happier. We’ve got loads of pictures now and we have also become a lot closer. I suppose I feel quite proud and think I should have done it ages ago,” she said.
“The other great thing is not smelling. When I get on the bus now and smell it on other people, I can’t believe how bad it is and that I made my kids and partner put up with it. I always stood by the door, but it still gets inside. It’s so lovely having a smoke-free home.”
Kyrie is determined that her children will avoid falling into the addiction, which she developed at just nine years old.
“I was out with a friend buying baby clothes for our dollies from charity shops. We found a packet in the street and smoked them in secret. My family smoked, so from then on we craftily started doing it more often. As teenagers, they were easier to get hold of and we bought them from older-looking ones at school. You don’t really care or even think about your health at that age.”
More health conscious these days, Kyrie is thrilled with the other benefits of quitting smoking.
“I’ve got more energy and can run around after my kids, instead of getting out of breath. I’ve even started going out jogging, which I would never have dreamed of doing before,” she said.
“I also don’t feel quite so stressed and I’m just generally happier in myself. When you’re a mum you always know deep down that smoking is wrong and dread the thought of them copying you. So now I’m free of the guilt and it’s nice to be setting a good example.”
Saving money and being able to enjoy food more are amongst the other advantages.
“I used to waste so much money on them, which I can now spend on better things. After the first week I saved all the money which I would have spent in a jar and treated my kids to loads of art stuff. I’ve also regained my sense of taste – everything is much more flavourful,” she said.
“I’m so chuffed I did it and now I have finally stopped, I’ll never smoke again. I used to bury my head in the sand and not worry about the consequences, but this time I really went for it and the results are brilliant.”
Smoking in pregnancy can cause various serious health problems for the baby, such as low birth weight, premature birth and placenta complications. It can, tragically, even result in death.
Quitting means mothers-to-be will have less morning sickness and fewer complications in pregnancy, and can reduce the risk of stillbirth. It will also reduce the risk of cot death, which is increased by at least 25 per cent by smoking during pregnancy.
For more information about how to get free support to quit call freephone: 0800 3892229 or 01793 465513, text 07881281797 or email firstname.lastname@example.org