Giving up smoking has many spinoffs for a young Thames family.
Not only is seven-month pregnant Jo Murray celebrating being smokefree for more than 17 weeks but she is eating well, feeling better than she ever has and is spending more quality time with her three young sons.
“I didn’t realise how limited my quality of time with them was because I was smoking and now I have all this time and I fill it up with my boys,” she said.
Jo said her days used to focus around coffee and cigarettes. “I never had breakfast or lunch, just dinner.”
Now she uses the money saved from cigarettes to fill her food cupboards, with the whole family developing a healthy appetite for good food.
“We’ve been craving real food for a long time.”
Jo, 33, had her first cigarette at eight years old, forced to smoke by her cousins who thought she would tell on them for smoking. “Otherwise they would beat me up.”
She smoked through her first three pregnancies and has been trying to give up since her son, Te Whetu, was born nearly five years ago.
But in the end the major decision maker in this smokefree battle was her unborn child.
“This baby doesn’t like tobacco, alcohol or meat,” she said.
I was very sick in week 10 which is cool because I have been seriously trying to quit.”
Jo had tried giving up cigarettes before, but admitted having the willpower of a “jellyfish”.
This time though, she said it had been “sweet and easy”.
“The big challenge for me is when I have baby.”
Jo Murray’s partner Peter Habib quit his 32-year habit as part of the Stoptober quit smoking challenge and the couple both receive support from Vel Kopa and Nitin Sukumaran through the free Autaki Kaipaipa Quit Smoking programme at Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki.
Jo had just given up smoking with Vel’s support before Vel found out about the Hapu Mama smokefree preganancies incentive picked up by Waikato District Health Board to encourage pregnant women to give up smoking.
Like the Autaki Kaipaipa programme, hapu mamas receive free gum, lozenges and patches but they are also encouraged on their journey with gift vouchers at one, two, three, four, six, eight and twelve weeks after they stop smoking, to a total value of about $250.
Each woman also receives a pair of specially designed earrings by Maori artist Nicola Te Kiri.
The vouchers are used for groceries, petrol and The Warehouse, but cannot be used for cash, cigarettes or alcohol.
Smokefree status is validated by a test that measures carbon monoxide levels.
Jo Murray completed the Hapu Mama programme in early December. She is the first graduate of the Waikato Hapu Mama programme – and has a certificate to prove it.
Statistics show that if someone stays smoke free for 30 days, they are five times more likely to stop for life.
Smoking during pregnancy contributes to higher rates of miscarriage, low birth weight in babies, problems during childbirth, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma and glue ear, as well as health risks for the mother.
For information on quit programmes in the Waikato area, contact one of the providers in this list.
This story was originally published in the Hauraki Herald, 12 December 2014, and is published here with its approval.
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