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Quit helps pregnant rural and regional women to stop smoking

Photo by Mathew Macquarrie on Unsplash

Health professionals across the country now have access to new, Australian-first resources to help them 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 to help GPs, obstetricians, midwives and pharmacists have a simple conversation and provide best practice care so pregnant women may lead healthier lives for themselves and their babies.


The clinical guidelines include Australian-first guidance from The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne on how to prescribe nicotine replacement therapy during pregnancy. Health professionals are being encouraged to use them in face-to-face and telehealth consultations.


“These resources are simple and practical and available online for health professionals. Learnings from these resources can be used via a telehealth or an in-person consultation,” said Dr Sarah White, Quit Director.


“The impacts of smoking during pregnancy can be devastating,” she says. “It 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.”


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


Dr White said that providing partners of pregnant women with advice and support to quit was also important. “Exposure to secondhand smoke in the home can be just as dangerous. Having someone else around who smokes is like a woman smoking herself. Plus, it makes it much harder to quit.”


Co-developed by Quit, Alfred Health and the Royal Women’s Hospital, the guidelines have been endorsed by RANZCOG, the Australian College of Midwives and the Stillbirth CRE. They are also recognised as an Accepted Clinical Resource by the RACGP.


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


Quitline is available to all people who smoke, regardless of where they live, and is one of the most effective ways of quitting smoking. Quitline counsellors are trained to listen and talk through ways to quit.


“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.”


View a short video that outlines the new guidelines and training. Visit quit.org.au or call the Quitline on 13 7848 between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday. For more information about Quit’s brief advice training and resources for health professionals, please email quit@cancervic.org.au

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