All Health Departments in the Southeast Region have a program to help pregnant women quit smoking during and after pregnancy. The “Baby and Me Tobacco Free” program is available thanks to funding from the tobacco settlement lawsuit to help pregnant women quit smoking during and after pregnancy for healthier babies.
“Quitting smoking when you are pregnant is the most important thing you can do to protect your health and the health of your baby. The Grundy County Health Department is committed to helping all pregnant women quit smoking,” said Nurse Kim Simmons, RN of the Grundy County Health Department.
Some local mothers and their babies have already benefitted from the program. Jessica Schrank is the first mom to have a baby while participating in the program at the Meigs County Health Department. Schrank was able to completely stop smoking and stated, “It’s an awesome program! I tell everyone I know that smokes about it.”
The program has financial benefits as well as health benefits. Pregnant women who smoke and enroll in the program come to the health department for four brief counseling sessions on quitting smoking. If they quit smoking, which is determined by a carbon monoxide breath test, they will be eligible for a $25 diaper voucher for each month of staying smoke-free up to one year after the birth of their babies. Pregnant smokers of any income level are eligible for the program.
Research suggests a woman is never more motivated to quit than when she becomes pregnant. That was true for Mary Basinger, a 25-year-old mother of three, who found the diaper vouchers really helpful. Basinger started smoking at 17 and cut back on cigarettes during her first two pregnancies but never completely stopped. She enrolled in the Baby and Me program and completed her four sessions because she knew quitting smoking was best for the baby and she really wanted to quit. Basinger was able to successfully quit smoking and stated, “The diaper vouchers have really helped because I have two in diapers and that has really helped me not smoke again.”
When a pregnant woman smokes, chemicals in the cigarettes reach the baby and can keep it from getting the food and oxygen it needs to grow. The risk of miscarriage is much higher for women who smoke while pregnant. Smoking during pregnancy doubles the risk of low birth weight and premature birth. Smaller babies typically get sick more often and have a higher risk of death within their first year. The average hospital charges for a low birth weight baby above normal delivery charges are around $70,000; but with an incentive of $300 of diaper vouchers paid for by the tobacco companies, $70,000 of health care costs can potentially be saved. The diaper vouchers, along with having no more cigarette expenses, help new parents save money and keep their families healthier.
For more information on the Baby and Me program or to sign up, call the Grundy County Health Department at 692-3641.