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Talking about smoking cessation with postnatal women: exploring midwives' experiences

02 December 2019
Volume 27 · Issue 12
 Helping women stop smoking is a joint effort on the parts of all healthcare professionals
Helping women stop smoking is a joint effort on the parts of all healthcare professionals


This study explores midwives' experiences of talking to postnatal women about smoking cessation. Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were held with seven midwives based in the UK. Thematic analysis identified themes which provided understanding as to factors determining discussion of smoking cessation. Six themes were identified, namely postnatal women factors, midwife factors, providing information, involving others, priorities, and whole family approach. Implications for midwives working with postnatal women are discussed, including the need to increase the involvement of other healthcare professionals in supporting postnatal women to stop smoking.

Maintenance of smoking cessation after pregnancy remains a challenge, with many women who quit during pregnancy relapsing by six months (Logan et al, 2017). Factors relating to relapse postnatally are numerous, including not coping well with the stress of a new baby, having a partner, friends and family who smoke, postnatal depression, being from a lower socioeconomic background, and being worried about weight gain (National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training [NCSCT], 2019a).

In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence ([NICE], 2010) guidelines recommend that smoking is addressed postnatally as well as antenatally. Support may be required shortly after delivery, for example nicotine replacement therapy to reduce withdrawal discomfort (NCSCT, 2019b). However, support in the postnatal period appears to play a less important role for health professionals than in the antenatal period (Flemming et al, 2015).

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