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Tacking action on smoking this Stoptober

Jane Scattergood Midwifery Adviser at Public Health England
2 October, 2018

Tacking action on smoking this Stoptober

Public Health England (PHE)’s annual Stoptober campaign is under way, providing a great opportunity for midwives to have important conversations with mothers-to-be about smoking, the risks and how they can increase their chances of quitting successfully.

As midwives are well aware, stopping smoking is one of the best things a woman and her partner can do to protect the health of their baby through pregnancy and beyond. However, you may be surprised to learn that the percentage of women smoking during pregnancy has plateaued in recent years, with one in ten women recorded as smokers at the time of delivery.

Every midwife can make a vital difference in triggering quit attempts by providing information about the serious harms of smoking while pregnant, and delivering supportive advice and action. For the first time this year, Public Health England’s Stoptober campaign is offering a free online ‘Personal Quit Plan’ to help smokers find the right stop smoking support for them. The plan asks a number of questions and provides a suggested combination of support based on a person’s level of tobacco dependency and what quitting support they have used previously.

PHE has also recently published a new smoking in pregnancy information pack that is exclusively for use by midwifery teams with pregnant smokers. It is a clinical resource that gives pregnant women new information about the harms caused by smoking to their baby, visualising and communicating the unseen harm that happens with every cigarette. It also includes a myth buster, advice on the support available from local stop smoking services and tips on dealing with cravings and stress. We’ve already seen lots of midwifery teams request the resource and we’d encourage you to do so too, if you haven’t already. It is available to order here (password: stopsmoking).

There are a number of new interactive resources to help health professionals have supportive conversations with pregnant women who smoke. These include infographics on the harms of smoking during pregnancy and the benefits of having a smoke-free home. All the materials have been developed in collaboration with Public Health England and are freely available here. There is also a new online training module to help midwifery teams deliver very brief advice for smoking in pregnancy, available here.

Public Health England’s new smoking in pregnancy information pack can be requested by Trusts and midwifery teams here. The password is ‘stopsmoking’.

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