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A Research on The Issue of Smoking During Pregnancy

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Apparently, smoking during pregnancy is detrimental to both the life of the mother and that of the fetus. Studies have confirmed that most parents are aware of the harm that smoking causes yet they are adamant to quit. Currently, it is estimated that over 10% of the European women smoke while only 5% of the Japanese women have this harmful habit. However, only few of these women entail those who are pregnant, according to Goszczynska, Knol-MichalowskaandPetrykowsa. The authors of this article argue that most women who smoke during pregnancy are those of low socioeconomic status. Since most of them become addicts, in the end, it has become difficult to advise these women on the dangers of smoking. The problem is that they have their lay justifications for smoking during pregnancy. Even though most medical professionals play a significant role to discourage women from smoking, most of them donot give up the habit. The authors of the article believe that the medical professionals fail because they do not employ effective methods. Instead, they trust their narrow one-sided education as the only mitigating strategy of helping these women.

Literature Review

Mothers and their babies share a connection between them through the umbilical cord. The fetus gets sustenance from the mother through the umbilical cord. Therefore, it is imperative that mothers should refrain from dangerous habits like smoking if they have to reduce the risk of congenital abnormalities in their children (Popa et al., 2013).Most pregnant women are aware of the detrimental effects that smoking has on their health and the health of their fetus, yet they find it hard to stop the habit. As a result, the pressure from the desire to abstain from smoking and the knowledge that smoking is detrimental to their babies cause a psychological problem called cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a feeling of mental discomfort, whichoccurswhen one holds two conflicting thoughts at the same time. Therefore, most pregnant women suffer from this psychological problem because their minds harbor two conflicting thoughts. They believe they are good mothers who wish to quit smoking while at the same time they know they are mothers who want to harm their children.

However, most of those women do not quit smoking although they try to find ways of reducing the psychological discomfort that cognitive dissonance causes. Studies have established that they often modify their perception of smoking and pregnancy to reduce cognitive dissonance (Goszczynska et al., 2016). It is believed by most scholars that some women would rationalize why smoking during pregnancy period is necessary. However, such beliefs are derived from personal experience and overheard information since they tend to have no scientific basis whatsoever. Most of the women who claim that smoking is essential only believe so as a way of justifying their addiction.

Seemingly, the narrow anti-tobacco education has done so little regarding dissuading pregnant women from smokingbecause most of the health professional arguments often contradict the knowledge obtained by personal experience of most pregnant women (Goszczynska et al., 2016). In other words, health professionals can only be effective in dissuading pregnant women from smoking if they refrain from their prophylactic programs to handle the issue from a pregnant woman’s point of view. Currently, healthprofessionals are being encouraged by scholars to first analyze the expectant mothers’ lay justifications for smoking before resuming with their prophylactic programs. However, only few researchers have adopted this method, according toGoszczynska et al. (2016). The advantage ofthis method over other methods is that it gives the researchers a chance of studying the thought patterns of a pregnant woman before deciding on a mitigation strategy (Goszczynska et al., 2016). Additionally, most of these women are allowed to give a rational justification of why they continue smoking during pregnancy while knowing that it is detrimental to their health.


The objective of the study was to determine the kind of lay justifications that pregnant women use to justify why they continue smoking despite the health risks involved. The study was to present a diversity of reasons for women from all backgrounds irrespective of their races and nationality.

Methods and Population

The study was based on the data that was collected from the internet forums from the women who presented their reasons for smoking during pregnancy. The researchers analyzed the women’s thought patterns without affecting the contents of their posts. Furthermore, the researchers did not contact the participants during the research process (Goszczynska et al., 2016). The research utilized a sample size of 47 women who presented their reasons for smoking during pregnancy. The participants did not belong to any other thematic group of users of other forums. Furthermore, these women did not belong to one race; neither were they confined to an age bracket. Participants were people interested in the topic of parenthood. In other words, they were all pregnant women addicted to smoking.

Data Collection

The data used for this research was collected from the online forum. There were two reasons why the researchers chose the online forum for data collection. One of them was that it gave the participants the feeling of anonymity. As a result, the participants were bound to share their true thoughts bearing in mind that their actual identity was hidden. Another reason was that the online forum is popular among pregnant women (Goszczynska et al., 2016). The research entailed several stages. In the first stage, the researchers identified the best online forums using the Google engine. Among these forums were,, and (Goszczynska et al., 2016). Next, the authors entered several words that related to smoking and nicotine. This action led to the identification of 58 threads that had 2724 posts. Each of those posts contained an only lay justification from all the participants.

Data Analysis

All the content of the posts were analyzed thematically. At first, the researchers used an inductive approach whereby the content of the data directed the coding and the development of the theme. The coding helped in many ways. One of them is that it assisted in the grouping of data. Coding also aided in the sorting of data. In addition, it helped in the putting all the sub-themes into two main themes. Among these two wasa theme, which questioned the need to refrain from smoking and its positive health effects;another one examined the possibility to quit smoking.

Results and Findings

From the study, there was no only rational justification why most women smoked during pregnancy. Most of the justifications were subjective. The researchers realized that most of the justifications were also repeated by most of the participants (Goszczynska et al., 2016). Another thing that they noted was that some reasons were specific to pregnancy while others were familiar to all smokers. The authors also realized that most pregnant women believed that nicotine did not pose any risk whatsoever on their unborn children. To justify why it was baseless to quit smoking, they gave examples of healthy children that had been delivered by some of the smokers they knew. To reinforce their belief that nicotine was harmless to their children, some women claimed that their mothers had been smoking before giving birth to them. The authors also discovered that some women believed that a mother’s lifestyle has negligible or no influence whatsoever on her offspring (Goszczynska et al., 2016). They claimed that they knew many families of none smokers with children born with physical disorders. They never saw smoking as a cause of most disorders, as most medical practitioners purported. Furthermore, a considerable number of women believed that quitting smoking was a futile attempt considering that they had been exposed to smoking long before they became pregnant. Some of the women claimed that the habit was important for them because it helped in the alleviation of stress. Most of them highlighted that the stress was induced by the realization that they were pregnant. Therefore, smoking played a significant role in reducing the stress. Such claims were contrary to the belief that smoking among pregnant women was a major cause of anxiety.

Discussion and Implications

This research presents the women’s lay justifications for smoking during pregnancy. Apparently, it is among the first unobtrusive research to be carried on pregnant women to determine their reasons for smoking during pregnancy (Goszczynska et al., 2016). It also shows the many ways that women use to diminish the feeling of risk associated with smoking. One can see that women’s awareness of this risk does not motivate them to quit. Instead, it makes them modify their beliefs about smoking thereby reducing their mental pressure. In other words, the awareness of the risk, according to the research, helps women to reduce their psychological discomfort. In addition, the research has shown that some women built their subjective justifications on some medical professional’s authority. For instance, some of the posts seem to exhibit some professional advice, whichmay beoverinterpreted.

However, not all the subjective justifications appeared in the research. According to the authors, these justifications include the following: the young age characterized by irresponsible behavior and those who had limited access to anti-tobacco counseling (Goszczynska et al., 2016).

This research also seemed to suffer from certain drawbacks. One of them is that there might have been a few numbers of analyzed forums. Another drawback was that the participants in the research might have shared certain characteristics; and therefore, it may have presented a different set of lay justifications. Furthermore, studies have confirmed that access to the internet depends on the socioeconomic status of an individual. Thus, there is a possibility that women of low-income status were not members of the forums used for data collections. As a result, a full spectrum of their lay justification may not have been accounted for (Goszczynska et al., 2016).

The study has confirmed that pregnant women give various lay justifications for smoking despite the health risks associated with smoking. The research affirmed that the biggest obstacle that prevented pregnant women from refraining from smoking was their thought patterns. Therefore, most health professionals ought to understand pregnant women’s thought patterns before deciding on a mitigating strategy to dissuade them from smoking

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A Research on the Issue of Smoking During Pregnancy. (2018, September 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from
“A Research on the Issue of Smoking During Pregnancy.” GradesFixer, 14 Sept. 2018,
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