Smoking and smoking relapse during pregnancy and postpartum: results of a qualitative study

Birth. 1998 Jun;25(2):94-100. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-536x.1998.00094.x.


Background: The purpose of this study was to describe women's smoking experience during pregnancy and postpartum. Primiparous women recruited during a randomized controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of postpartum visiting were invited to participate in a qualitative study.

Methods: A semistructured protocol guided the face-to-face interview. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Data were coded independently by the authors, and the final coding system for emergent themes was developed through a consensus process.

Results: Of the 47 women invited to participate, 22 agreed to be interviewed. Three major themes emerged from the analysis: pregnancy as a context for stopping smoking, returning to smoking, and social pressures on smoking behavior. Concerns about the baby's health were cited as central reasons for stopping. Breastfeeding provided a reason for continued smoking cessation, whereas social events often demarcated a resumption of women's smoking choices.

Conclusions: Results provide guidance for the timing and content of interventions to prevent smoking relapse.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Puerperal Disorders / psychology*
  • Recurrence
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires