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Musgrove midwives play a vital role in supporting pregnant women who smoke, to give up during their pregnancy - 14 March 2018

Musgrove midwives play a vital role in supporting pregnant women who smoke, to give up during their pregnancy - 14 March 2018

“As midwives it is part of our public health role to inform and educate women and their families about the risks of smoking in pregnancy, for them and their unborn baby" Sallyann Batstone, Midwife at Musgrove Park

Latest figures show that over 5,000 women in the South West smoked during their pregnancy in 2016/17, making up around 11 percent of all pregnant women across the region last year.

The national Tobacco Control Plan for England, ‘Towards a Smokefree Generation’, has set a target to reduce the prevalence of smoking in pregnancy to 6 percent or lower by 2022 so the South West has some way to go to reach this target.

Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of a premature birth, sudden infant death syndrome, Asthma, diabetes and heart complications.  However the good news is that overall figures for the South West have been steadily declining in recent years, from 13.5 percent in 2010/11 down to 11.3 percent in 2016/17.

More locally the downward trend is similar, with Gloucestershire now at 8.6% down from 14.9% in 2010/11, Somerset is at 13.1% down from 17.9% and BANES is the lowest in the region at 7.1%. Much of this progress is down to the key role that midwives play in having conversations with women early in their pregnancies, and offering them help and support to quit.

Sallyann Batstone, Smoking Cessation Midwife at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton works with the community midwifery team to find new ways to reduce the amount of women smoking at the time of delivery. She told us about what she and her colleagues are doing at the trust.

Sallyann said: “As midwives it is part of our public health role to inform and educate women and their families about the risks of smoking in pregnancy, for them and their unborn baby.

“The risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and neonatal death rise significantly if women and their partners smoke.

 “It is important to talk about this early in pregnancy as we know if women quit before 15 weeks the risks are reduced to almost that of a non-smoker.

“The longer term effects of smoking on the unborn baby include respiratory problems, as well as behavioural problems, such as ADHD and poorer performance at school. Smoking can affect many generations in a family.

“Across Somerset, carbon monoxide (CO) screening is carried out for every pregnant woman at their booking appointment at around 8-10 weeks. Those who have a raised CO, and all those who smoke, are referred to the Somerset stop smoking service. In 2016/17, almost 60 per cent of women successfully quit with support.

“When women attend their first trimester screening and see their babies on the monitor for the first time they also have a discussion about smoking and its effects.

"We use various teaching tools, such as a fabric placenta to demonstrate how the woman’s placenta becomes calcified, leading to it not working efficiently. Helping women to feel how gritty the placenta becomes can be a ‘light bulb’ moment for some.

“I am passionate about supporting women and their families to get the best information and support to help them lead long and healthy lives.”

Rosanne Sodzi, Public Health England, Health & Wellbeing Programme Manager, said:

“Smoking in pregnancy can harm the baby in the womb from day one, so stopping smoking is one of the best things a women can do to protect the health of their baby through pregnancy and beyond. 

“It’s important that all health professionals who come into contact with pregnant mums and their families warn parents of the risks and offer consistent support and encouragement to help mums stop smoking both during pregnancy and after the birth.”