Last year, UK journalist Sonia Poulton confessed to smoking while she was pregnant and admitted that she still haunted by it today, and that she prays that her disgusting habit hasn’t damaged her now 12 year old daughter.
When she fell pregnant in 1997 Sonia Poulton and her then partner Stephen were overjoyed with the news, but she admits that the ‘fly in the ointment’ was her 60-a-day cigarette habit since she had carved out at the early age of 13. She remarked that at the time, it would have been impossible for her to even consider writing an article without cigarette and ashtray nearby. She loved smoking. Smoking made her feel happy. But she did want to give up as soon as she learned she was pregnant, and immediately threw away all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters. Only to find herself in a quivering mess by the end of day one. Unaided by her partner Stephen who continued smoking, she tried to busy herself with a set of Chinese medicine balls intended to produce a ‘meditative’ effect when rolled in the palm of your hand. But nothing really helped. She confided in smoking friends who had had children to find out how they had abstained, and was shocked to find out, they hadn’t, and admitted to taking a sneaky puff here and there. She quoted one of her friends admitting: 'I couldn't do it openly. People judge you so badly for it. But I needed the odd one, if only to steady my shrieking hormones.'
And so after that, and at the end of her third non-smoking day, she started smoking again and continued with a 2 a day habit for almost every day of her pregnancy, which amounted to 500 cigarettes in total. When her daughter was born, she says she searched her little daughter for the damage she feared she had done, but was relieved to find that all was normal, and remained so throughout her childhood.
But Sonia did give up, at the request of her then eight year old daughter, who was becoming aware of health issues related to smoking and would gave out to her every time she went to the garden to light up. This was familiar territory for Sonia, as she remembered her childhood was spent worrying about her mum who also smoked, and she didn’t want to put that on her daughter. She also considered the fact that statistically children who’s parents smoke are more likely to take up the habit. But Sonia says she is reminded of her error of judgement all the time, and knows that smoking while pregnant is wrong, and she worries constantly about what effects this might have on her daughter in future life, however, she accepts that she can do nothing about the past, and can only hope for the future.