Smoking and Smoking Relapse During Pregnancy and Postpartum: Results of a Qualitative Study


  • Nancy Edwards RN, BScN, MSc, PhD,

    1. Nancy Edwards is Associate Professor, School of Nursing, at the University of Ottawa, and Academic Consultant for the Ottawa-Carleton Health Department,
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  • Nicki Sims-Jones RN, BScN, MScN

    1. Nicki Sims-Jones is Program Manager at the Ottawa-Carleton Health Department, and a cross appointee, School of Nursing at the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
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Nancy Edwards RN, PhD School of Nursing, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5, Canada.



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.


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.


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.


Results provide guidance for the timing and content of interventions to prevent smoking relapse. (BIRTH 25:2 June 1998)