A Surrey hospital has launched an initiative to reduce the number of women who smoke during pregnancy and after the birth of their baby.
Currently around 10 per cent of pregnant women who give birth at Royal Surrey County Hospital smoke at their initial appointment.
Amy Stubbs, Deputy Director of Midwifery and Divisional Head of Nursing for Women and Children said: "When you are pregnant protecting your baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things you can do to give your child a healthy start in life.
"Every cigarette contains more than 4,000 chemicals, so smoking when you are pregnant harms your unborn baby.
"Cigarettes can restrict the essential oxygen supply to baby and as a result, their heart has to beat even harder every time you smoke.
"Stopping smoking during pregnancy will also help babies in later life. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from asthma and other serious illnesses that may need hospital treatment.
"It can be difficult to stop smoking, but it is never too late to quit and our teams will be here to help."
As a part of a nationwide project to reduce avoidable harm for babies at birth, the team is increasing the amount of carbon monoxide monitoring carried out during pregnancy and the immediate post natal period.
Every time a woman’s carbon monoxide level is taken, it provides another opportunity to identify a woman who smokes and offer information and further support to quit.
The team is now introducing carbon monoxide screening at 36 weeks pregnant, on discharge from the maternity service to the health visitor after the baby has been born, and on discharge from the Special Care Baby Unit.
When a woman stops smoking in pregnancy:
- They will reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth
- They are more likely to be a healthier pregnancy and to have a healthier baby
- They will reduce the risk of still birth
- Their baby is less likely to be born too early and have to face the additional breathing, feeding and health problems that are often associated with being born premature
- Their baby is less likely to be born underweight: babies of women who smoke are, on average, 200g (about 8oz) lighter
- They will reduce the risk of cot death, also known as sudden infant death syndrome
Carbon monoxide monitoring also helps us to identify women living in an area of high environmental carbon monoxide; for example from a poorly functioning boiler within the home.
The Maternity and Neonatal Health Safety Collaborative is a three-year programme, launched in February 2017 across all maternity and neonatal services across England.
The aim of the safety collaborative is to improve the safety and outcomes of maternity and neonatal care through quality improvement projects, reducing unwarranted variation and providing a high quality healthcare experience for all women, babies and families across England.