Majority of maternity services without a stop smoking specialist midwife say RCM

on 31 May 2019 Smoking Pregnancy

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has today(Friday 31st May) revealed that almost 70% of Heads of Midwifery have reported that they are without a stop smoking specialist midwife in their maternity team.

The RCM have shared the findings from it’s annual Heads of Midwifery survey as it publishes a new position statement on ‘Support to Quit Smoking in Pregnancy’.

The new position statement reconfirms the RCM’s position that ‘quitting smoking is one of the best things a woman and her partner can do to protect their baby’s health through pregnancy and beyond’.

The RCM are also calling for specialist stop smoking support to be available to all pregnant women on an opt out basis and believe NHS staff should also be supported to stop smoking, in work time if necessary.

Commenting, RCM’s Chief Executive Gill Walton said “Smoking significantly increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and sudden infant death and birth abnormalities. Smoking also damages a mother’s health and is associated with maternal risks in pregnancy, such as placental abruption and eclampsia.

“Evidence show that stopping smoking early in pregnancy can almost entirely prevent adverse effects and we need to be doing all we can to support women and their families to stop smoking.

“Within the UK there is significant variation in maternal smoking rates, depending on age, ethnicity and socio-economic status and while there are innovative support programmes that are achieving good outcomes more intensive tailored support for women and their families is needed and that will require long term investment. 

“What the RCM is calling for is for comprehensive stop smoking support to be made available to all pregnant women at all NHS Trusts and Health Boards with maternity services across the UK.

“If we are serious about tackling smoking rates in pregnancy what is needed is specialist stop smoking advisors who are closely aligned with and contain members of the maternity team. Given that smoking is a marker of inequality the RCM believes that resourcing arrangements urgently need to reflect the local need.

“Also, the RCM would like to see initiatives in place to support our members and all NHS staff to stop smoking. As a trade union representing over 47,000 midwives and maternity support workers the RCM would like to see the integration of stop smoking therapeutic services into the workplace, offering flexibility for staff to attend appointments, together with maintaining smokefree NHS sites. That would demonstrate a real commitment to health promotion.”

RCM’s Position Statement - ‘Support to Quit Smoking in Pregnancy.'


To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected].


Note to editors

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