Written by Emily Clarke, Hertfordshire County Council
This month we launch our ‘Love your Bump’ campaign which is all about encouraging pregnant smokers and family members who smoke, to quit. The case for targeting pregnant smokers is clear. Smoking is the single most modifiable risk factor for poor outcomes in pregnancy – it increases the risks of miscarriage and still-birth, and then there are the longer-term links to ADHD, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Smoking in pregnancy is a pretty controversial issue, and for lots of non-smokers, it’s one that’s easy to moralise about. The negative reaction on social media to a news story earlier this year, which reported the success of a study in Scotland offering cash incentives for pregnant smokers who quit, proves this. Have a look at the comments below this article to get a feeling for what people were saying http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2929337/400-bribes-help-pregnant-women-stop-smoking-Mothers-twice-likely-quit-financial-incentive.html#ixzz3Q6cBWorY
The general consensus seems to be that any woman should or would quit as soon as she gets a positive pregnancy test. Why wouldn’t she? Everyone knows the risks don’t they? But while lots of women do quit, there are lots more that don’t quit and don’t have the support they need to help them to quit.
So our campaign is about understanding why they don’t. We’ve done lots of research on the issue, trying to understand why pregnant smokers make the decisions they do and finding out what the barriers are that are stopping them from ditching cigarettes. We’ve also spoken to Hertfordshire women who smoked in their pregnancies and they’ve helped us develop our approach.
So what did we find out? The following insights have been key in helping to shape the campaign. We know that most pregnant smokers live with other smokers (82% according to Department of Health figures). We know that many pregnant smokers have lots of other things going on in their lives, and that quitting smoking doesn’t always feel like a priority. We know that pregnant smokers feel judged and under pressure to stop and that this can make it hard for them to seek out support. And most importantly we know that they are much more likely to quit with the support of a stop smoking specialist and of their nearest and dearest.
And that’s how ‘Love your bump’ was born. We’ve tried to combine simple, honest, direct messages to mums, dads, nans and grandads about the dangers of smoking, delivered by Bump, along with a clear offer of non-judgemental support. We’re doing everything we can to spread our messages. We are working with midwives and children’s centres, putting messages with pregnancy testing kits in pharmacies and running a series of Facebook ads.
So if you are pregnant and struggling to stop smoking, or you’ve already got youngsters and want to give up, please do get in touch. We promise to give you the best support and advice to help you stop. You can register to get support by visiting www.hertsdirect.org/loveyourbump, alternatively you can call 0800 389 998 or text SMOKEFREE to 80818. Pregnant smokers who register for support could win £100 of shopping vouchers.
Emily Clarke, is an Assistant Manager at Hertfordshire County Council’s Stop Smoking Service. She’s also a mum of two energetic young lads, aged 5 and 3.