Monday 13 June 2011

Where There's Smoke....

I come from a family of smokers. My mum smoked, even in her pregnancy with me. She reports that her Obstetrician smoked during consultations regarding her pregnancy. He's dead now. Lung cancer. My father was a smoker right through my childhood and adolescence, giving up in his 70s. He now has emphysema. My sister was a smoker too. Me, I never fancied it. Being a severe asthmatic I figured my lungs had quite enough to deal with.

I have to say, I am kind of, a wee bit, understanding about smoking in pregnancy. Smoking is an addiction. Pregnancy is stressful. Yes, I think that as soon as you find out your are pregnant you should throw your cigs in the bin and not look back, but life isn't always quite as simple as that. And look at me, my mum smoked in pregnancy, I was term, and 7lb 6oz, didn't do me any harm. Am I asthmatic because mum smoked? Who knows. I don't have the statistics, but I know asthma rates are rising, and I assume smoking in pregnancy is either static or decreasing since the 70s.

However when Joseph was in special care, my understanding flew out the window. I have seen labouring women smoking outside the delivery suite, whilst in early labour. I have seen heavily pregnant women smoking straight after antenatal appointments. I have seen mums with babies on the unit smoking outside the unit doors. It made me angry, and it still does.

I wonder what the answer is? Recently I was watching "Misbehaving Mums to Be" on BBC3 and there was a mother who was smoking harder who said, and I paraphrase "smoking is good for my baby, because it makes its heart stronger". Surely this isn't a common view, surely this is an aberration and one person's misguided belief. Because if it isn't, then surely, theres a massive gap somewhere in education. Surely everyone knows, in the 21st century, that smoking is dangerous. Choosing to expose yourself to this is one thing, but your unborn is another matter.

What really needs addressing is smoking in hospitals. Our hospital where Joseph lived for 10 weeks was "smokefree" as are all hospitals in the UK, however it's not regulated. People smoke at our main entrance, to the delivery suite entrance, outside the cafeteria, everywhere. What is the point of haivng rules if no one cares enough to administer some sort of punishment?

Do we need to educate mother's further? Do we need to provide more support for expectant mums quitting? I'd love to know the answer to this.


  1. This has reminded me that I intended to write a complaint regarding the policy on smoking outside the hospital.

    I don't understand, women are advised not to smoke yet the facilities to smoke at the maternity part, are in the direct path of new mums. It is also in the direct path of taking new preemies home, fab start to the outside world when their first gob full of outside air is smoke filled :/ Not.

    With expectant mums I always find that the line "But xxxxx did it and their baby is fine" and fair enough, but prematurity can happen to any mother and if you have a pre term baby that's when you're going to see the effects!

  2. I don't know if education really works with smoking. Every mum-to-be knows it's dangerous to smoke while pregnant but if they continue to do it, then the message, however strong, isn't getting through.

    I don't smoke and actually loathe it. But if women honestly think that smoking helps whilst pregnant, I would hope social services get involved.

    CJ xx

  3. I had to pass through the heavily pregnant Mum's smoke every day when we were in SCBU back at my birth hospital. I also had to sit there in enclosed spaces in an overcrowded SCBU where fellow parents would sit in close vicinity to my daughter's cot, absolutely reaking of stale smoke.

    I have smoked in the past, but not heavily or freuent. I wouldn't dream of doing so now, yet I don't want to be judgemental. However, I think the first commenter is right, it's not fair to have parents smoking outside hospitals where premies, many of whom will have or go on to develop Chronic Lung Disease have to pass through.

    CJ is right, EVERYBODY knows the dangers of smoking. That mother is deceiving herself or trying to excuse her neglect for the baby in her womb. Sod it, when it comes to pregnant women I AM judgemental. It's not educating they need, it's a nicotine patch, some psychotherapy and a slap round the face.