Supporting Pregnant Women to “Quit and Stay Quit”

Laura Keeley from Clonmel, Co. Tipperary signed up to “Supporting Pregnant Women to Quit and Stay Quit” in March. 34 year old Laura had smoked for more than 10 years and was expecting her first baby, due in September. Laura quit smoking and gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy called David (weighing eight pounds, seven ounces) on the 4th of October. Laura is determined never to smoke again.

An initiative that began earlier this year to support pregnant women or a family member of theirs in the South East to quit smoking is on target to surpass 500 referrals by the end of 2020. 

“Supporting Pregnant Women to Quit and Stay Quit” run by HSE/South East Community Healthcare takes referrals from four maternity hospitals (University Hospital Waterford and Wexford, St. Luke’s Carlow/Kilkenny and South Tipperary General Hospitals) and primary care and community services settings in counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford, and Wexford. 

The integrated care project is supported by the government’s “Sláintecare” programme and underlines its strategy in aiming to deliver the right care, in the right place and at the right time. 

As a free programme, “Supporting Pregnant Women to Quit and Stay Quit” aims to help everyone involved in the journey of the pregnant woman to stop smoking by providing effective support for both her and those who live with her to ensure that babies born in the South East to come home to a smoke free environment.  

The project is delivering very significant results, one of which is that “quit” rates are consistently above 80% at four weeks into individual plans – which is ahead of national averages for other groups. 

“Smoke Free” babies have been born since this project commenced earlier this year and up to 100 such arrivals are anticipated by the early spring of 2021, at which point the “Supporting Pregnant Women to Quit and Stay Quit” programme will mark one year in existence. 

The HSE/South East Community Healthcare (SECH) initiative has been profiled in national campaigns, has recently featured in information webinars hosted by Sláintecare and some of the programme’s participants have been profiled to demonstrate the effectiveness of this service. 

As a Sláintecare integration fund project, South East Community Healthcare (SECH) says its “Supporting Pregnant Women to Quit and Stay Quit” initiative has a clear focus on community care and integration of care across all settings, with the maternity staff in the acute hospitals working with the community based smoking cessation officers. 

Kate Cassidy, a Health and Wellbeing officer with SECH advises: 

“Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby. We know, of course, that it can be difficult to do. We also know, however, that mums want to give their baby the best possible start in life. No matter what stage you or your partner are at in your pregnancy, it is never too late to stop smoking. This service is delivered in a user friendly way and, when evaluated by a patient narrative project, participants stated the information and support they got was relevant to their needs, provided in a non-judgemental way and easy to understand.” 

“Ask your midwife, GP, healthcare provider or practice nurse to refer you to the “Supporting Pregnant Women to Quit and Stay Quit”. Once referred, a Smoking Cessation officer will talk to you about your smoking habits and help you to build a plan to quit smoking. They will help you build confidence and motivate you to quit.” 

When referred to the service, two Smoking Cessation Officers, David Phelan (for Waterford/Wexford) and Colm O’ Connor (in Carlow-Kilkenny/South Tipperary) deliver one to one interventions for pregnant women and their extended family, with clinics in six primary care units throughout the region: Cahir (Primary Care Centre, Barnora), Carlow (Primary Care Centre, Shamrock Plaza), Carrick on Suir (Primary Care Centre, Pill Rd.), Kilkenny (Ayrfield Primary Care Centre, Granges Rd.), Waterford (Primary Care Centre, John’s Hill) and Wexford (Primary Care Centre, Grogan’s Rd.). 

This service, across the South East, is offered free to all pregnant women, women who have had babies or women planning to become pregnant, their partner/spouse, and others in the household who want to quit smoking.

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