Pregnant smokers three times more likely to quit with NHS support

Tuesday 8 November 2022

Angelique and her daughter Nahemiah

Angelique and daughter Nahemiah

Women who smoke during pregnancy are being told they are 3 times more likely to stop smoking and to stay smoke-free with the support of NHS services. Tobacco dependence experts at Guy's and St Thomas' have helped over 50 pregnant women stop smoking since April 2021.
Angelique, 33, from Lambeth and mum to five-month-old daughter, Nahemiah, started smoking in her mid-teens, when she saw friends and other young people smoking. She smoked 20 cigarettes within 24 hours or the equivalent in hand-rolled cigarettes.
Angelique said: "I would smoke at any chance I could get. It was a very strong addiction. I would wake up in the morning and smoke, even before I ate or drank. I'd smoke even more when I was stressed or anxious, while driving, with food and while socialising.”
When Angelique found out she was pregnant with her first child, she contacted the national stop smoking helpline who referred her to Guy's and St Thomas' tobacco dependence service. Unfortunately, Angelique had a miscarriage in March 2021, but became pregnant again in September that year.
With the support of her tobacco dependence specialist, Judith Olaitan-Salami, Angelique has remained smoke-free for almost one-year. Angelique, who is now pregnant with her second child, said: "I tried to stop smoking a few times before but nothing worked. Judith is so encouraging and has given me lots of strategies. I know I can call her at any time and that I'm not by myself. She is always on hand, even after the pregnancy, and has never made me feel judged.
Angelique said:"I'm happier now because it's a much cleaner environment for my child, and my baby is not breathing in anything bad. It's also better for me financially and mentally. I am confident I have finally kicked a lifelong habit thanks to the support of Judith and her team. I am so surprised and proud of myself."
By stopping smoking, pregnant women reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth and of stillbirth. Babies are also less likely to be born too early, which can lead to breathing, feeding and health problems. Children whose parents smoke are also more likely to suffer from asthma and other serious illnesses that may need hospital treatment.
The community-based Tobacco Dependence Treatment Service offer support at clinics at Gracefield Gardens Health Centre in Streatham, Mosaic Clubhouse in Brixton, Mawbey Brough Health Centre in Stockwell, West Norwood Health and Leisure Centre and Hurley clinic in Kennington.
Judith Olaitan-Salami, a tobacco dependence specialist with Guy's and St Thomas' community-based Tobacco Dependence Treatment Service, said: "I'd urge pregnant women who smoke to come along to have a chat with our tobacco dependence specialists. There is lots of help available including counselling and medication, like nicotine patches, which are free and will help with the cravings.
"We can work out a plan to help you manage things that trigger your smoking and you can start to look at life without cigarettes. It's definitely the best thing you can do for yourself and also for your baby."

Last updated: November 2022

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