Maternity & Midwifery Forum
Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash
Midwifery Feature Articles

Celebrating the public health role of midwives: the smoking cessation midwife

The role of the midwife has certainly expanded since I started my training in 1981 and I continue to be amazed at the wonderful work my colleagues engage with.

Sarah Leach, is one such midwife who ‘goes the extra mile’ when it comes to giving good care. Sarah decided to return to practice (RTP) after a break in midwifery and has never looked back.

Following a RTP programme she took up her current post as rotational midwife in the Maternity Unit at Basildon Hospital. Sarah also maintains her registered nurse status working two shifts monthly in Gynaecology, having a keen interest in women’s health.

In 2019 Sarah became the Lead Midwife for stopping smoking and says, “It’s something that improves the health of women, but also their babies, and is especially important as smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and even cot death. Smoking in pregnancy is dangerous because of the 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke crossing the placenta to the baby. One of the most dangerous is carbon monoxide. This is found in all cigarette smoke – both tailor-made cigarettes and roll-ups – no matter how small. Carbon monoxide is especially dangerous as it deprives the developing baby of oxygen, slowing growth and development. We ask woman who come to us at the start of their pregnancy if they smoke. Then provide advice about why it is better to be smoke free and help refer women to services and free support to help them quit. There is a lot of local support out there and treatments include nicotine replacements such as patches, gum, lozenges, inhalators and vapes.”

Wednesday 10th March was No Smoking Day and Sarah was seen to be promoting the fantastic support that is out there for the many Essex mums-to-be to help them quit or cut down smoking ahead of them giving birth. She continues to say, “It’s important that everyone thinks about their smoking habits and that we support the family and help improve their health, life and that of their baby. Everyone benefits and it gives us the opportunity to get the positive health messages out there even further. We know that with help you are four times more likely to quit smoking.”

A big ‘well done’ to Sarah, who truly understands the importance of this public health issue.
Keep up the good work!

Judy Evans

Resources for helping to support women and birthing people stop smoking in pregnancy are available from the Smoking in pregnancy challenge group at Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group – Smokefree Action Coalition.

The MATFLIX box set on Behaviour and Lifestyle in Pregnancy includes a talk by Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy for ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), on Carbon monoxide screening: achieving smokefree pregnancies and discussed the charity’s involvement in promoting reduction in smoking in pregnancy. Subscribe here: Media | Matflix | United Kingdom.

Leave a Comment