SGCMH launches Baby and Me Tobacco Free program
(Rita Brumfied, SGCMH CNO (pictured far left), members of the SGCMH Women’s Wellness Department, and members of the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department kicked off the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program in early May.)
Missouri is trying to reduce infant deaths by offering financial incentives to help pregnant women stop smoking.
Missouri ranks near the top when it comes to the number of pregnant women who smoke. About 17.5 percent of women smoke during pregnancy, more than twice the national average. In more than 20 counties, the rates are as high as 29 percent to 35 percent, according to the state department of health.
Despite these sobering statistics, there is new help available in Ste.Genevieve County for soon-to-be moms who are committed to quitting smoking. With grant funding from the March of Dimes and Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (SGCMH) joins 5 other sites across the state in launching BABY & ME – Tobacco Free, a national program uniquely created to helping pregnant women quit smoking during pregnancy and stay smoke free after giving birth.
The “Baby & Me: Tobacco Free” is an incentive-based program. The program rewards female smokers who quit prior to delivery and stay smoke free post-delivery by providing $25 in monthly diaper vouchers for each month smoke free, for up to one year postpartum. A mother can choose the brand or size of the diapers at the Ste. Genevieve Country Mart or Wal-Mart.
“The free diapers get them in and interested to listen,” said Carrie Staab, SGCMH respiratory therapist “Because living with someone who smokes is a big barrier to quitting, Ste. Genevieve is also awarding additional $25 vouchers for another person in the household who stays smoke-free.”
Staab explained that smoking increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, as well as having a low birth weight or premature baby, the leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality. Children born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy are also at increased risk for asthma, colic, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome.
How the program works
The Baby & Me - Tobacco Free program involves four 15-minute face-to-face prenatal counseling sessions with a trained provider. Participants are tested with a carbon monoxide monitor, which works like a Breathalyzer. (Smokers have higher levels of the gas in their blood and breath.) There are no income or age requirements to participate.
“We kicked off the program on May 1, and it’s going very well,” said Staab. “Offering resources and incentives together to help them kick the habit looks like it will prove to be a successful strategy.”
Ste. Genevieve County Health Department is collaborating with Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital to provide the services needed to carry out the Baby & Me - Tobacco Free program.