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Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Pregnant smokers urged to quit

By Matt Cole
Newsbeat reporter

Laura and Amelia
Laura quit smoking when she got pregnant the second time

If you've got pregnant but are still enjoying your cigarettes, you're probably going to find a lot of people disapproving.

After all, it's been proved that smoking when pregnant can harm your baby in a number of ways.

Many pregnant smokers however - 25%, according to a poll of 224 people for the NHS - are shamed into keeping their habit secret and end up not seeking help to quit because they're worried about being judged.

Laura, a mum from Telford, smoked when she was pregnant with her son.

However, she was determined to take advantage of a special support service and quit the habit when she became pregnant with her second child, Amelia, who was born four months ago.

"When I was first pregnant with my son," she told Newsbeat, "I didn't quit smoking then... I got quite judged.

"People would see me with a cigarette. I had quite a few comments made to me all the time."

'Attitudes must change'

Using the NHS stop smoking service for pregnant women helped her to keep off the cigarettes.

"I had one-to-one support, all the time it was there constantly," she said.

"I had their phone numbers so even when I had that minute craving I could just send them a little text if I needed, if I felt like I was falling back a bit I could phone them."


People would see me with a cigarette. I had quite a few comments made to me all the time

Laura, mum from Telford

The NHS in England is now campaigning to get more pregnant smokers to ask for help in a campaign fronted by celebrity doctor Miriam Stoppard.

Help to quit pregnancy specialist nurse Helen Holdroyd says that stopping pregnant women smoking is crucial.

"Every cigarette smoked restricts the essential oxygen supply to the unborn baby," she explained," so it's really important that women do remember that, and [that] there is support and help to stop them smoking."

Similar services are available in other parts of the UK too.

However, Laura reckons the schemes are only half the battle, and says it is important that public attitudes change.

"Instead of people judging you they should be encouraging you and explaining to you the support [available]."

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