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Smoking breath test during pregnancy

effects of smoking while pregnant

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Everyone is aware of the dangers of smoking and the government has recently unveiled new guidelines to introduce a smoking breath test during pregnancy to assess whether they have been smoking; something that has caused quite a furore among parent groups, midwives and mothers.

Smoking breath tests during pregnancy are due to come into force this year and will mean that midwives will have to check the carbon monoxide levels of a pregnant woman at her first antenatal appointment. While this is designed to help midwives offer advice and guidance on quitting many are outraged that women aren’t being trusted to tell the truth and have called it ‘intrusive nannying’

Dangerous while pregnant

Smoking while pregnant can have devastating effects, increasing the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth and sudden infant death (cot death). Children who were also exposed to smoke in the womb are also linked to having psychological problems such as hyperactivity or lack of attention and children of parents who smoke tend to suffer more from asthma, bronchitis and develop more ear, nose and throat conditions.

The concern is that one in five women who do continue to smoke during pregnancy find it hard to admit to their doctor or midwife and will continue to smoke in secret rather than receiving the right help with quitting. Although the test won’t be compulsory, many women fear they will be put under pressure to undergo them and midwifes are sceptical of the new guidelines raising concerns that the relationship between a mum and midwife is based on trust and by carrying out these test, it will undermine that trust and put up a barrier between open and honest communication. After all, if you have been asked if you smoke and you say no, then your midwife tests you anyway, what kind of relationship can be formed based on that?

smoking breath test

Invading your privacy?

When a women finds out they are pregnant, they are often bombarded with lots of new information on pregnancy, breastfeeding, safety in the home, medical conditions, and the list seems endless. Many women are starting to feel the physical effects of pregnancy and are already facing changes in their health and lifestyle. Carrying out these tests at the first appointment is bound to add pressure on women and may start the relationship between midwives and mum off on a bad foot, limiting the ability for women and midwives to use their own judgement. Questions have also been raised regarding whether these tests lead to an invasion of privacy and parental groups have insisted that if they are to be introduced, they have to be done on an entirely voluntary basis. The issue with this being that the women who are likely to volunteer to the tests are those who don’t smoke or who are happy to admit they do and seek help with quitting. Those who refuse are likely to be those whom the tests were intended to target in the first place.

We want all children to have the best possible start in life and that begins with their health in the womb, however a woman’s relationship with her midwife is paramount and any form of invasive test that undermines this, is bound to have an adverse effect and perhaps make a woman less inclined to trust and confide in their midwife with other health or personal issues that may affect her pregnancy. Ultimately women need to feel supported and encouraged enough at the beginning of their pregnancy so they aren’t embarrassed to admit they smoke and can access the support they need right from the start.

For help with quitting smoking contact smoke free for more information




About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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