The RCM revealed the findings from its annual heads of midwifery survey today, at the same time as publishing a new position statement on “support to quit smoking in pregnancy”.
“More intensive tailored support for women and their families is needed”
It said the statement reconfirmed 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”.
In addition, the RCM is calling for stop smoking support to be available to all pregnant women on an opt out basis and that NHS staff should also be supported to stop smoking, in work time if necessary.
RCM chief executive Gill Walton said: “Smoking significantly increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and sudden infant death and birth abnormalities.”
She said: “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.”
Ms Walton noted that there was significant variation in maternal smoking rates across the UK, depending on age, ethnicity and socio-economic status.
She said: “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.
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“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,” she said.
She added: “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.
Meanwhile, Ms Walton highlighted that the RCM would also like to see initiatives in place to support 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,” she said.