EVEN before Jennifer Tucker felt the first kick of her unborn baby girl, she instinctively knew she had to kick an addiction to smoking which had started when she was just 11.
Jennifer, 30, from Park South, is now the proud mum of 10-week-old Kiera-Mae and could not be happier, having successfully stubbed smoking out of her life for good.
She said: “I realised my baby was just too precious to put at risk, so vowed to stop as soon as I knew I was expecting. It was tough because I’d been doing it ever since I was a kid myself, but I’m so glad I did it and it was actually easier than I thought.”
The hospital cleaner’s determination to quit her 20-a-day habit was spurred on by the fact that Kiera-Mae is the baby she never believed she would be able to have.
“I always wanted to be a mum, but I also knew from the age of 13 that I was gay so never thought it would be possible. That’s why Kiera-Mae is such a dream come true for me and my partner, and I couldn’t bear to do anything which could possibly damage her,” Jennifer said.
Her partner, Lyndsey, aged 34, had never really smoked but was full of encouragement for Jennifer, who also called on the support of Swindon’s Stop Smoking Service, 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, provided by SEQOL, successfully quit.
Jennifer said: “My midwife was absolutely amazing – she didn’t force me to stop or make me feel guilty, but just gave me the facts by taking my carbon monoxide and nicotine readings and showing what that could do to my baby.
“I was in no doubt that I had to give up for the sake of this little life and also my own health, so I could be around as long as possible for her.”
She has been smoke-free since September and found the ongoing free support invaluable.
“Because my partner was a non-smoker she didn’t really know what I was going through when I got cravings after the birth. That’s why my midwife was so helpful, as she understood what my body and mind was feeling,” she said.
“There were moments when I thought I needed just one more drag, but she got me through those low points without me resorting to that and turning back. Failure simply wasn’t an option.”
Kiera-Mae was conceived through IVF, which Jennifer was able to finance after a payout for an injury at a former workplace.
Having started smoking outside school, Jennifer is anxious to set a smoke-free example to Kiera-Mae from day one.
“I got in with the older crowd and the odd puff became a daily habit and soon a total addiction. I could easily smoke more than 20 roll-ups a day and must have spent a fortune on it. I don’t want Kiera-Mae to be exposed to any of it – she’s so special and priceless,” Jennifer said.
She is also pleased to have escaped the unpleasant smell of smoking, has extra money to spend on the family and also has more energy to play with her baby. Nine-year-old Natasha and Rebekah, 12, Lyndsey’s daughters from her previous relationship, are equally thrilled.
“They are really proud of me and love our new arrival. But they weren’t affected so much by my smoking as I only used to do it in the shed outside to keep it out of their way,” Jennifer said.
“But I know it still made me stink – no one says, they just get used to it and put up with it. I’ve also discovered my sense of taste, which you don’t really notice at the time but now food is so much nicer.”
For more information about how to get free support to quit call freephone 0800 3892229 or 01793 465513, text 07881 281797 or email firstname.lastname@example.org