Narratives of smoking relapse: The stories of postpartum women

Joan L. Bottorff, Joy L. Johnson, Lori G. Irwin, Pamela A. Ratner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Many women who stop smoking during pregnancy relapse soon after the birth of their infants. Using narrative research, experiences of smoking relapse were explored using interviews with 27 postpartum women. The stories of relapse were analyzed to identify important components, paying attention to commonalities, differences, and areas of emphasis. Five general story lines were identified: (1) controlling one's smoking (starting with a "puff" and consciously restricting the amount smoked); (2) being vulnerable to smoking (relapsing because of an inability to resist cigarettes); (3) nostalgia for one's former self (relapsing to recapture feelings of freedom and happier times); (4) smoking for relief (relapsing to manage emotions and stress); and (5) never really having quit (relapsing because they did not quit for themselves). The findings of this study provide support for the claim that the experiences of smoking cessation and relapse among postpartum women may be unique and, consequently, may require specialized intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-134
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Nursing and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Narrative
  • Postpartum
  • Smoking cessation
  • Smoking relapse


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