Tobacco smoking is the most important preventable cause of many adverse pregnancy outcomes. Some women continue to smoke during pregnancy although the harmful effects are evident.
To characterise pregnant smokers and to understand their smoking behaviours and preferences for smoking cessation.
Materials and Methods
Pregnant women (≥18 years) attending the antenatal clinics of two large Victorian maternity hospitals completed a prepiloted questionnaire which included items regarding socio‐demographics, smoking habits and attitudes towards quitting.
Smoking status was self‐reported by 1899 participants; 125 (6.6%) were current smokers and 604 (31.8%) were ex‐smokers. There were 87 (69.6%) daily smokers and 38 (30.4%) occasional smokers. Smokers mainly had medium (54; 43.2%) or heavy nicotine dependence (45; 36%). Current smokers were younger, Australian born, not living with a partner, from a lower socio‐economic background, multigravida and had a smoker in their household or among friends. Although pregnant smokers were aware of the possible complications of smoking, their motivation and confidence to quit (median) on a 10‐point scale were 7 and 4, respectively. The majority of smokers preferred to stop smoking gradually (74; 71.2%). The preferred methods for quitting were medications (49; 47.6%) and hypnotherapy (35; 34.0%). Patches (28; 29.5%) were the preferred dosage form, and nicotine replacement therapy (25; 28.1%) was the preferred medication. Less than half reported that their health professionals discouraged smoking during pregnancy.
Health professionals should be more proactive in identifying smokers and offering smoking cessation support in pregnancy. Multidisciplinary smoking cessation interventions for pregnant smokers are warranted.