RCM Wales calls for more support for women around smoking in pregnancy and obesity at Wales TUC Congress

By RCM on 22 May 2018 RCM Wales Public Health Pregnancy and Weight Management Smoking

The importance of public health and the need to invest in it is the focus of a motion from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in Wales at the TUC Wales Conference starting today (Tuesday, 22nd May 2018). The RCM Wales motion focuses on smoking and weight management in pregnancy and the motion is set to be heard on Wednesday, 23rd May. The RCM Wales motion - Public Health an Investment in the Future - will be presented by the RCM Director for Wales Helen Rogers.

Statistics show that nearly a fifth (18.4%) of pregnant women were smokers at the time of the first assessment 10 weeks into their pregnancy. Over a quarter (27.5%) were obese, which means they had a body mass index above 30.*

In the motion RCM Wales calls on the Welsh Government to invest in public health. The motion argues that an investment in public health initiatives helps save the NHS money in the long run. It is also an investment for the future health of the nation.

The RCM Wales motion to the TUC Wales Congress calls on the TUC General Council to help make the case for Government investment in public health services. Key elements of the motion call for the development of an all Wales approach to improve smoking cessation strategies and services for women who smoke during pregnancy. It asks also for more support for women to maintain a healthy weight prior to and during pregnancy.

Midwives are ideally placed to support women to stop smoking and manage their weight at a time when many women are receptive to these messages. This key public health role of the midwife was highlighted in Midwifery 2020 published in 2010.** It said that midwives’ “unique contribution to public health is that they work with women throughout pregnancy, birth and into the first weeks of family life”; hence they have a vital role to play in “improving health and social wellbeing for all women”.

Two other motions at the Congress are being supported by RCM Wales. One from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy calls on the TUC General Council to work with the NHS Partnership Forum to develop and implement an All Wales Menopause Workplace Policy.  

The second RCM Wales supported motion is from the Society of Radiographers. This motion asks to ensure that there is a Union Learning Representative (ULR) in every department and every hospital ward across NHS Wales.

Helen Rogers, Director for Wales at the Royal College of Midwives, said:  “There is no doubt that much more needs to be done to improve overall public health in Wales. We also need to see more investment to improve the health of women, especially those who are pregnant or thinking of having a baby.

“If we can reduce levels of smoking and obesity in pregnancy we can improve women’s health, and help to give their babies the best possible start in life. Smoking in particular is linked to a higher chance of having a stillbirth.

“We must invest now in our public health for the long term health and financial benefit of Wales.”

The Wales TUC Congress runs from Tuesday, 22nd to Thursday, 24th May 2018. For more information visit the TUC website at



Notes to editors

*For more information on the Maternity Indicators Dataset 2015/16 see https://gov.wales/statistics-and-research/maternity-statistics/?lang=en.

**For more information on Midwifery 2020 see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/midwifery-2020-delivering-expectations

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.