Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust and Co-Chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, highlights free resources available for midwives and other health professionals to tackle smoking in pregnancy.
Although rates have declined in recent years, around one in ten women still smoke at the time their baby is born. Smoking remains the single biggest modifiable risk factor for poor birth outcomes and is a major cause of health inequalities. Smoking in pregnancy is also a significant risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It has been estimated that 85 deaths from SIDS could be prevented every year if no pregnant woman smoked. This is an area where continued progress is vital and there is still much left to be achieved.
The Lullaby Trust’s goal is to stop all unexpected deaths of babies and toddlers so achieving further reductions in the numbers of women smoking during pregnancy is of vital importance to our work. That’s why we are members of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, alongside organisations such as the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Nursing, the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, Tommy’s and Sands. The Group is co-ordinated by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and together we are committed to taking action to tackle smoking in pregnancy.
Quitting and remaining smokefree can be very difficult, and pregnant women are likely to need support to be successful. Every healthcare professional who comes into contact with a smoker can make a difference by encouraging them to quit. It may sometimes feel like there isn’t enough time or this isn’t a priority, but we know talking about these issues with women and their families makes a real difference and can ultimately save babies lives.
The Challenge Group and its members have produced a range of free resources to support midwives and other healthcare professionals in having conversations with pregnant women about quitting smoking.
- An on-line training module around delivering very brief advice (VBA) on smoking to pregnant women, including CO screening
- Resources for both midwives and pregnant women to help explain the dangers associated with carbon monoxide (CO)
- An information guide on the use of electronic cigarettes in pregnancy for midwives and other healthcare professionals and an infographic for pregnant women considering using electronic cigarettes.
- A live document detailing initiatives within England that support smoking cessation in pregnancy
We would encourage all health professionals to visit the Challenge Group’s website to access these resources and for details on how you can order hard copies. If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is estimated that smoking during pregnancy is causing over 2,000 premature births, 5,000 miscarriages and 300 stillbirths every year. If we all play our part, thousands of lives can be saved.