Nineteen-year-old Gabrielle De-Silva and her 18-year-old partner Remus Edwards are urging pregnant women who smoke to give up for the sake of their baby - and themselves.
Gabrielle and Remus say the most profound thing they have done for the baby girl they are expecting in March is to stop smoking so she has the best possible chance of being born healthy.
Both admit it wasn’t easy to give up. Gabrielle says when her mother urged her to attend a smoking cessation course at Te Oranganui for pregnant women, she signed up with little intention of quitting.
“Supported by my best friend, my mother and Remus, I ‘went through the motions’ until half way through the eight-week course something clicked,” Gabrielle says.
“The presenter put a jar of tar on the table and told us every time a pregnant woman smokes her baby breathes in tar just like the tar in front of us. The presenter then went one step further by breaking open a cigarette and pouring boiling water over the tobacco. Remus and I were horrified to watch the water turn black.”
Gabrielle says she walked out of the meeting a non-smoker. Like many people who quit, she lit a cigarette a couple of days later but felt so disappointed with herself she stubbed it out and that was it. In a show of support for Gabrielle, Remus gave up a couple of days later. He’d been a heavy smoker up to that point.
Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) director Maori Health Rowena Kui says she not only applauds Gabrielle and Remus for quitting but she’s full of admiration for them wanting to encourage others to follow their example.
“As young adults they are wonderful ambassadors for Te Oranganui and the joint smoking cessation efforts that are happening in the wider Whanganui region,” Mrs Kui says.
“I’m sure their message will touch other couples wanting to give up. Everyone expecting a baby wants them to have the best start in life. Giving up smoking is a very important step towards making that happen.”
Thank you to Remus Edwards, Gabrielle De-Silva & Whanganui District Health Board for allowing us to profile this story.