Help, not a ‘stern talking to’

pregnant smoker

Pharmacists have access to new resources to help support pregnant women and their partners to stop smoking

The resources – clinical guidelines and an online training package – have been produced by Quit and Alfred Health for use by GPs, obstetricians, midwives and pharmacists.

The clinical guidelines include Australian-first medicines safety information from The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne on the use of nicotine replacement therapy during pregnancy.

Developed to support the Safer Baby Bundle national stillbirth prevention program, the guidelines have been endorsed by RANZCOG, the Stillbirth CRE and the Australian College of Midwives, and are recognised as an Accepted Clinical Resource by the RACGP.

Quit and Alfred Health, in consultation with Safer Care Victoria and maternity clinicians, has also developed smoking cessation brief advice online training, which can be completed in an hour.

Dr Sarah White, Quit Director, says that the impacts of smoking during pregnancy can be ‘devastating’.

“Smoking during pregnancy is the most common modifiable risk factor for pregnancy complications, and is associated with poorer perinatal outcomes, including a baby being of low birthweight or small for gestational age, a pre-term birth or even perinatal death,” she says.

“Stopping smoking is one of the best things a pregnant woman can do for their health and the health of her baby.”

It is estimated that one in ten pregnant women smoke. This equates, nationally, to more than 30,000 live births per year that are affected.

“Pregnant women who smoke need best practice, evidence-based interventions, not a ‘stern talking to’. That’s why we encourage health professionals to use the new resources to help pregnant women and their partners to stop smoking for their own health and the health of their baby,” says Dr White.

“Treating professionals are at the frontline of antenatal care and have a crucial role to play.”

The guidelines and training have been developed to assist treating health professionals to have a conversation that is supportive and encouraging, using the Ask, Advise, Help brief advice model, included in the RACGP’s smoking cessation guidelines.

 The resources will help women access best practice tobacco dependence treatment; a combination of Quitline counselling and, if clinically appropriate, nicotine replacement therapy such as patches and gum.

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