"I was a full time proper smoker": a qualitiative exploration of smoking in the home after childbirth among women who relapse postpartum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Sophie Orton
  • Tim Coleman
  • Sarah Lewis
  • Sue Cooper
  • Laura Jones



Many women stop smoking during pregnancy but relapse shortly afterwards, potentially putting their infants at risk of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure. Women who were able to stop during pregnancy may be a motivated group, receptive to making behaviour changes postpartum to protect their infant from SHS exposure. Understanding more about their experiences of relapse, and if this influences home smoking behaviours and children’s exposure to SHS in the home may help to inform intervention development to prevent infant SHS exposure.

Guided by interpretative phenomenological methodology we conducted and analysed nine semi-structured interviews with women who quit smoking during pregnancy, but relapsed ≤3 months postpartum.

Central to mothers’ accounts of their smoking behaviours during pregnancy and postpartum was their desire to be a ‘responsible mother’. Mothers described using strategies to protect their infant from SHS exposure, and held strong negative attitudes towards other smoking parents. After relapsing, mothers appeared to reposition themselves as ‘social’ or ‘occasional’ smokers rather than ‘regular’ smokers.

Findings suggest that interventions to prevent/reduce infants' home SHS exposure should build on mothers' intentions to be responsible parents. As mothers who relapse principally view themselves as ‘social’ or ‘occasional’ smokers, interventions that are highlighted as relevant for women with these types of smoking patterns may be more likely to be responded to, and, ultimately, be effective.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0157525
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2016