Amy Fossum’s apartment in Fargo, North Dakota, is full. Full of diapers, full of bottles, and full of clothes for her triplets named Elias, Bennett and Zane.
“I feed babies all day long,” said Fossum.
One item that she no longer has in her home though are cigarettes. When Fossum became pregnant with these three, she entered a free maternal tobacco program at Sanford Health to quit smoking.
“For the health of my boys, it was just a good motivator for me to stop smoking. I didn’t want to smoke the rest of my life either. It’s just, once you start a habit it’s really hard to stop unless you’ve got something to motivate you,” said Fossum.
Moms quit smoking, with help
Kathryn Byrd runs the program at Sanford Health in Fargo, and she knows that even a motivated mom can have trouble breaking the habit.
“It’s an addiction. It’s really hard to overcome,” said Byrd.
Which is why the program includes individual meetings for up to six months, to help mothers follow through on their plan to quit, and track their progress during and after pregnancy.
“Our goal is to have healthy outcomes for mom and baby,” said Byrd. “If we can help women to quit during their pregnancy, then we reduce the risk of things like lower birth weights, preterm deliveries, physical and developmental delays for babies, complications for Mom, and even more severe risks like stillbirth or a miscarriage.”
Money is also a motivating factor. Not only do mothers who quit save on the expense of cigarettes or vapes, but they also receive $50 for diapers and wipes upon completion of the program. Because Fossum had triplets, she received $150.
Healthy and happy family
Ultimately though, Fossum’s decision to quit smoking during pregnancy may have saved her babies’ lives. They were born premature, at just a little over 27 weeks. And the largest of the three weighed just one pound, 12 ounces upon delivery.
“I could put my two hands together and their little bodies were just the width of my hand,” said Fossum. “You could take off your eyeglasses and their footprint could fit in the eye glass. So they were tiny, but they were so handsome.”
On this day, Fossum was happy to report that she had not smoked in exactly six months and 27 days. Even though things get hard with triplets, she still wasn’t reaching for a smoke.
“When I was having a stressful time, I used to treat myself to a cigarette, but instead, (Byrd) gave me advice to have a nice snack, like an ice cream or something, instead of going to have a cigarette because ‘I was stressed out and I deserved it.’ But now, I mean, these boys are my treat for not smoking basically,” said Fossum with a smile.
For herself, and for her boys, Amy Fossum quit smoking. Now the whole family is healthy and filling this apartment with laughs and hugs.
If you or someone you know are interested in the maternal tobacco program at Sanford Health, please call (701) 234-7716.
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