Support to stop smoking proves a success

Posted Thursday, October 6, 2022 3:42 PM

Support to stop smoking proves a success

The first women to quit smoking in pregnancy thanks to support from a specialist team have welcomed their babies.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust set up the Phoenix Team, a maternity tobacco dependence treatment service, at the end of last year to help support mothers and birthing parents to give up smoking during pregnancy.

Elisa Botham (32) of Sutton in Ashfield, started smoking when she was 18. She attempted to quit twice in the past but wanted to give up while pregnant ‘not just for myself but for my baby’.

She gave up smoking during pregnancy and her son Marcus was born in July.

Elisa said: “The Phoenix Team was absolutely amazing. I felt like a friend rather than a patient. They are not here to judge and there was no pressure. I was able to try different nicotine replacement products for free and do it in my own time.

“The carbon monoxide monitor showed my levels dropping from 29 to zero, which gave me the incentive to keep going.

“I feel amazing. I’m so proud of myself. I’m able to do activities, like ice skating, which I couldn’t do before without getting out of breath. I can join in with my eight-year-old daughter when she’s running around and she’s so proud of me too.

“I have an app that shows how much money I’ve saved since I stopped buying cigarettes and so far, it’s more than £1,000.

“I’ve not even thought about wanting a cigarette. If you’re pregnant and need that support the Phoenix Team is the way to go.”

The trust’s tobacco dependence treatment service, which launched in December 2021, is one of the three Early Implementer Sites for the NHS Long Term Plan maternity model.

In England, the rate of pregnant women and people smoking at the time of birth is 9.1%. At SFH, it’s 16.23%.

Quitting smoking while pregnant reduces the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, heart defects and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The average cost to the NHS of providing care during pregnancy and birth to a person who smokes is double that of a non-smoker due to the interventions required.  

Trained tobacco dependence advisors offer telephone and face-to-face support, including free nicotine replacement products, to help families quit smoking during pregnancy and remain smokefree beyond birth. People can refer themselves to the service or be referred by a health professional such as a midwife or doctor. A member of their household or close family, such as a partner, can also receive support to quit smoking if they wish.

Liene Stepkane (33) of Mansfield, was referred to the Phoenix Team by her midwife during pregnancy. She successfully quit smoking ahead of the arrival of her daughter Christina Irene who was born at King’s Mill Hospital on 30 May.

Liene, who started smoking six years ago and smoked 10 to 15 cigarettes a day, said: “I didn’t think I was capable of giving up but with a good team around me it was much easier than I thought it would be.

“I used patches for a couple of weeks and didn’t feel like I needed to smoke at all when I put them on.

“As well as being good for my baby, I feel generally healthier since I’ve stopped smoking. I’ve been going for lots of walks and I don’t get out of breath pushing the pushchair uphill. My skin is better - everything just feels better. I’m really happy and proud of myself.

“My advice to anyone who is offered support is to just have a chat. My advisor Lisa was friendly, helpful and non-judgemental. We didn’t just talk about smoking but about life in general and all the support is free – even the Nicotine Replacement Therapy.”

Claire Allison, Tobacco Dependence Maternity Lead at SFH, said: “Smoking can cause serious health problems for both mother and baby, and that’s why the support we provide is so vitally important. Protecting the baby from tobacco smoke is one of the best things to give the child a healthy start in life. It can be difficult to stop smoking, but it's never too late to quit. Stopping smoking will help the family and the baby immediately, reducing the effects of harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide, and other damaging chemicals.

“We recognise that smoking in pregnancy is the result of addiction to nicotine, which requires treatment. Our support is tailored to each individual and best of all – it’s completely free. Well done and congratulations to all the families who have already benefited from the Phoenix Team’s support.”

Hear what Elisa had to say about the Phoenix Team in a short video on our Facebook page

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