21st March 2022
Baby boy Freddie became the 100th “Smoke Free Baby” to be born in Wexford General Hospital on Ash Wednesday, March 2nd. With both mother and baby doing well, health services in the south east were celebrating this particular milestone reflecting on the 1,300 referrals that have been made since the “Supporting Women to Quit and Stay Quit” programme began two years ago.
Supported by the government’s Sláintecare strategy for its aims of integrating hospital and primary care services, this particular programme operates as a free, dedicated support for pregnant women.
They take referrals of pregnant women (in addition to partners and family members) from the four maternity departments of acute hospitals in the South East (University Hospital Waterford, Wexford General Hospital, St. Luke’s General Hospital Carlow/Kilkenny and Tipperary University Hospitals) and from primary care and community services in counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford.
Working with specially trained Smoking Cessation Officers, over 300 participants have achieved a “quit date” within weeks.
With an average rate of one baby per week or so being born into what previously was a smoking environment but now is not, those working on the programme were anticipating a 100th arrival on Ash Wednesday – National No Smoking Day and Baby Freddie obliged.
"The best possible start in life."
Marking the success of the Sláintecare integrated care programme and looking forward to it reaching its latest milestone, Kate Cassidy, Health and Wellbeing Officer with the HSE/South East Community Healthcare services, said:
“Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby. We know, of course, that it can be difficult to do. We also know, however, that parents want to give their baby the best possible start in life. By using our 1:1 intensive stop smoking service or telephone support, participants can increase their chances of quitting fourfold.” She continued: “Nearly half of pregnant women who set a quit date with their stop smoking service go on to quit successfully. No matter what stage you or your partner are at in your pregnancy, it is never too late to stop smoking. You will get the support you need and not be judged. Ask your midwife, GP, healthcare provider or practice nurse to refer yourself to the “Supporting Pregnant Women to Quit and Stay Quit.
“Once referred, a Stop Smoking Advisor will talk to you about your smoking habits and help you to build a plan to quit smoking. They will help you build confidence and motivate you to quit.” One such Stop Smoking Advisor is David Phelan. Outlining the benefits of participation in “Supporting Pregnant Women to Quit and Stay Quit”, David says: “It will be your plan. It will help you to build coping skills and avoid risky situations for you. When you stop smoking, both you and your baby will feel the benefits immediately. Carbon monoxide and other chemicals will quickly leave your body. This means that there’ll be more oxygen in your blood, making you and your baby much healthier.”
Confirming that HSE/South East Community Healthcare’s tobacco services are expanding, Susan Scully, Health Promtion and Improvement Officer, said they were “developing plans to dedicated supports in Chronic Disease Hubs, Community Health Networks and the Sláintecare Healthy Communities pilot sites in Clonmel, Waterford City and Enniscorthy/Wexford. Resources to support smoking cessation will include “one to one” support, Stop Smoking Medication and the tailored Quit programme.”
The positive impact to date of the programme has also been welcomed by the Chief Officer of HSE/South East Community Healthcare Kate Killeen White: “All HSE services in the South East are very proud of this support service. It is proving to be a very good demonstration of the integrated care approach central to the Sláintecare project.”