Hamilton mum quits smoking in second pregnancy video

MARK TAYLOR / STUFF

Dayna Allen smoked through her first pregnancy, but has vowed not to make the same mistake twice.

When Dayna Allen found out she was pregnant at 19, she knew she needed to cut the cigarettes. 

But she didn't. 

As a result, her daughter Tayla was hooked up to breathing support just hours after her birth. 

Dayna Allen smoked through her first pregnancy, but quit when she found out she was pregnant with her second child.
MARK TAYLOR Stuff NZ

Dayna Allen smoked through her first pregnancy, but quit when she found out she was pregnant with her second child.

Her stomach and placenta were too small. The placenta was covered in small black spots. 

READ MORE: 
* Pregnant Waikato women eat and smoke too much, report shows
* High rate of pregnant smokers a 'sad statistic'
* Waikato initiative helps people quit smoking, Once and For All
* Breaking the habit no easy fix

Allen was horrified. 

"It was terrible. I felt so guilty," Allen said. "I had cut down smoking, so it does go to show you that even a little bit still has an impact.

"You don't actually understand until it happens to you ... I was in that habit and that addiction so much that you're just like, oh, well.

"I wasn't going to let that happen again."

Allen, 25, said her "diva daughter" is now a healthy five year old with endless energy. 

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Tayla was lucky. 

The American Centers​ for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found smoking while pregnant can cause low birth weights and premature births, making other illnesses - and sometimes death - more likely. 

Allen tried to quit countless times after Tayla was born, but never managed to lay off the smokes for more than two months.

Until she learnt she was pregnant again.

Now Allen is seven months pregnant and five months smoke-free after a decade of smoking an average of 10 cigarettes a day. 

"As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I said I'm not bringing the baby into a smoking house."

Allen stopped smoking through Once and For All, a Waikato and Tairawhiti initiative launched in 2016 and run by Pinnacle Midlands Health Network. 

Once and For All uses "quit coaches" - often nurses or doctors - who visit smokers once a week to help them through the quitting process.   

Allen, who started smoking at 15, is one of 21 pregnant women in Waikato and Tairawhiti to have quit cigarettes through the programme.  

Now it is a novelty to no longer feel puffed and go to bed with congestion.  

A Ministry of Health report released in August with data collected from 2015 found that 14.2 per cent of pregnant New Zealand women reported smoking at their first registration with a maternity provider. Two weeks after birth, 12.1 per cent still smoked.

Women living in high deprivation areas, Maori women and those under 20 had the highest rates of smoking while pregnant. 

Pinnacle Midlands Health Network medical director Dr Jo Scott-Jones said New Zealand had a high percentage of pregnant smokers compared with other countries. 

"That is incredibly disappointing," Scott-Jones said. "Other countries might see that down to the 10 per cent or less." 

He said Pinnacle Midlands finds about one in three women quit during pregnancy. 

But too many return to the habit once the baby is born.

Scott-Jones said Pinnacle hopes to impove that through Once and For All and other initiatives.

"The motivation might be greater in pregnancy, [but] the physical withdrawal and the psychological drive to continue smoking is still strong," Scott-Jones said. "Stopping smoking causes anxiety and withdrawal, but smoking itself doesn't calm you down. Smoking actually triggers off stress hormones." 

For infants, second-hand smoke increases risks such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, ear infections and weakening of the lungs. 

Allen hopes more mums realise it is possible to quit. 

"I've got friends now that smoke while pregnant and I just keep telling them, you need to stop, you need to stop. Because I've seen first hand the effects that it has.

"And, I guess, now not smoking, I can see what smoking does."    

Anyone interested in signing up to the Once and For All programme call 0800 6623 4522 or visit here

 - Stuff

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