Amy Savelkoel was about nine when she first puffed on a cigarette. This was behind her parents’ backs of course and she went on to start smoking full-time during high school.
A decade or so later and about to become a first time mum, it was no longer just about her own health.
“I decided to quit smoking now, because of my son. I didn’t want him to get sick. Smoking is horrible and once you start it’s so hard to give up. It’s just not worth it,” says Amy.
“Babies are so vulnerable and they can’t protect themselves. When you’re pregnant you are the one protecting them. Smoking was not protecting my baby, so I had to quit.”
Amy called Quitline and was put onto Te Hā - Waitaha, which is a free stop smoking service open to all Cantabrians. While the service offers support for all, there is a focus on Māori, Pacific, pregnant women and other high risk groups.
Quit coaches are based across Canterbury and provide support face-to-face, via phone or text, in a group, or individually.
Amy tried going cold turkey, but her mental and physical health started to deteriorate.
“I got the shakes and wasn’t feeling very well from the lack of nicotine. I had to reach out and get some help.
“You shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Sometimes, it can feel defeating, but it’s out there, so why not take it,” says Amy.
“I used the nicotine replacement spray. I found having the patches and spray on hand and just having someone to talk to really helped.”
Amy met her quit coach Christine regularly. They just sat down and talked.
“It was very open and she was really non-judgemental. Christine came to me mostly, which was convenient. It took away the stress by having her come to me, especially when you’re trying to quit.”
Amy’s advice to people who want to give up smoking, is to not hesitate, especially if you are pregnant.
“It’s worth the cravings and mood swings. You’re pregnant anyway, so you get all that sort of stuff.
“Just do it. You have to do what’s good for your wee one. It may not feel good at the time, but it will make a world of difference to them. Do it, sooner rather than later.”
The Te Hā – Waitaha quit coaches work with people who want to quit and their whānau to find ways to make becoming smokefree easier. They offer ongoing support, free nicotine replacement products like patches, gum and lozenges and advice on ways to beat the cravings.
The service also offers incentives for pregnant women to celebrate smokefree milestones.
Phone 0800 425 700 or register online at www.stopsmokingcanterbury.co.nz if you or someone you know would like help to quit.
Watch Amy's story.