Working together to help pregnant mums stop smoking

As part of its goal to tackle health inequalities in our communities, BSW Together has invested over £210,000 into treating tobacco dependency and helping local people stop smoking and live healthier lives.

Part of that funding has been allocated to a project to help pregnant mums in Salisbury to stop smoking.

Smoking is an ongoing concern in BSW. Figures from 2019 show that 13 per cent of people in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), 13.1 per cent of people in Swindon and 14.6 per cent of people in Wiltshire smoke. The national average figure for England is 13.9 per cent.

Bea Longthorp is a Public Health Specialist Midwife at Salisbury Hospital who heads up a team part funded by BSW Together and Wiltshire Council offering support services for pregnant people resident in Wiltshire who smoke. We caught up with Bea to find out more.

What does your role as a specialist stop smoking midwife involve?

The role is really varied which I love. On the ground level I see pregnant smokers and try to engage with them to help them to quit. My role also involves seeing all pregnant women with a BMI over 30 and helping them to manage their weight gain throughout their pregnancy. I teach on the Midwives update days (which is love) and have also manage to get teaching slots with the Maternity care assistants and Doctors. Ultrasonographers next! It’s all about us singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to the importance of stopping smoking in pregnancy. I have to do a lot of data collection and reporting on the work we do. We also get to be quite creative on how we can best further our service. I’ve got my eyes set on working with in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and the recurrent miscarriage clinic

How does your role help people stop smoking?

We do whatever is needed to help a woman stop smoking in her pregnancy. We provide a mixture of behavioural support and NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy). We see women face to face whilst they come in for their scans but we also speak to women on the phone and find a lot of women respond well over text. 

Why is your role important in terms of helping pregnant mums in Salisbury stop smoking?

The risks of smoking on the developing foetus are enormous. There’s never a better reason to quit. Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and low birth weight for the baby. It also increases the risk of DVT, diabetes and instrumental delivery and caesarean section in the mother. 

Why is your role needed? – How big a problem is smoking among mums in Salisbury and Wiltshire?

About 12% of the women who are newly pregnant smoke. At the last count we managed to get 48% of the women who engaged with us to quit and stay quit.  

How long have you been doing this particular role?

Since May 2021, I work 3 days a week.

How many people work as part of your team?

I manage a fantastic team of 5 Health Trainers with a variety of backgrounds but with a shared passion for helping women. We are so pleased with ourselves when we manage to get another pregnant women to stop smoking, it’s a wonderful feeling.