Herts is ahead of the game when it comes to cutting down smoking in pregnancy, say health promotion teams

Herts is ahead of the game when it comes to cutting down smoking in pregnancy rates

Herts is ahead of the game when it comes to cutting down smoking in pregnancy rates - Credit: Archant

A report recommending how a new government strategy could nearly halve the current rate of smoking in pregnancy has been welcomed by Herts health chiefs - but they say they’re already ahead of the game thanks to a string of innovative ideas.

Hayley Carlton managed to quit while she was preganant with her baby daughter Eve.

Hayley Carlton managed to quit while she was preganant with her baby daughter Eve. - Credit: Archant

The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group report sets out a number of recommendations which the county can already tick off as achieved

Initiatives have included the ‘Love Your Bump’ campaign launched earlier this year to provide support to pregnant women and their partners to help them give up smoking as well as the the introduction of Babyclear, a new approach to identifying, referring and supporting pregnant women to stop smoking by giving professionals from all agencies the tools and training they need to provide support and interventions.

Despite all these efforts, around seven per cent of pregnant women in Herts still carry on puffing - that’s about 1,000 women.

Too often mums-to-be do not understand that smoking increases the risk of stillbirth, miscarriage and cot death. It can lead to a baby being born underdeveloped and in poor health and there are longer term links to ADHD, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Herts County Council’s cabinet member for public health Councillor Teresa Heritage said: “We are committed to tackling health inequalities by working in partnership with the NHS and other local partners, as well as national agencies.

“Our smoking in pregnancy rate in Hertfordshire (7.8 per cent) is lower than the national and regional average and already lower than the government’s ambition of 11 per cent.

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“We cannot be complacent. We are making great progress in this area but smoking in pregnancy remains the largest risk that we can influence in sudden unexpected infant deaths, so there is still work to be done.”

Mum Hayley Carlton knows just how important it is to give up smoking when you’re pregnant. She said: “Once you meet your perfect, tiny, helpless baby you will 100 per cent understand why you put yourself through the stress of trying to give up.

“Before I was pregnant, I had never tried to quit, but when I went for my booking in appointment with my GP, he suggested I call the stop smoking service.

“I spoke to a lady at the clinic who was amazing. It made a refreshing change from my husband who was always nagging me.

“Two things she gave me really helped, the first was a day chart that I could count each smoke free day off on.

“The second was something she said, which was that a craving lasts four minutes and then it’s gone, and then the next will be the same. Once I knew that I just had to distract myself for four minutes, I felt like I’d actually be able to do it.”

There’s a specialist pregnancy stop smoking service available in Herts - anyone who would like help to give up smoking should call 0800 389 3 998, text SMOKEFREE to 80818, or visit www.hertsdirect.org/loveyourbump for free non-judgemental support, advice and treatment.

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