Healthy Living in the North

The challenge of quitting smoking during pregnancy and staying quit after delivery

Woman smoking beside a field.

Avoiding tobacco use will improve the health of your whole family before, during and after pregnancy.

Want to improve your own health and protect your developing baby from the harmful effects of tobacco and tobacco smoke? Women and their partners who use tobacco during pregnancy are encouraged to quit!

Why quit?

Maternal smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth and early detachment of the placenta. Smoking is also linked to growth restriction during pregnancy and low birth weight. Although a smaller baby may mean an easier labour and delivery, low birth weight is a predictor of decreased newborn health and survival.

After a child is born, infants of women who smoke are three times more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome. Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke have an increased risk of respiratory problems and increased severity of asthma.

When to quit?

Ideally, women and their partners should quit using tobacco prior to pregnancy but if not, then it is important to quit anytime during pregnancy. Every day is a good day to quit smoking!

Support to help you quit smoking and protect your family

Although tobacco dependence is a complex addiction with many factors that make it difficult to quit, many women have been able to quit during their pregnancy.

Women are aware that smoking is not good for their health or the health of their babies and so many are very motivated to quit. It’s sometimes difficult to quit during pregnancy because:

  • Pregnancy speeds up a woman’s metabolism and she may find that she is smoking even more to relieve her cravings.
  • Pregnancy is sometimes a stressful time.
  • A woman’s social network may use tobacco and she may feel left out.

Understanding these factors may help in the development of plan to quit smoking.

Many women wonder if they can use nicotine replacement therapy such as the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge or inhalers when they are pregnant. Opinions vary on the use of these products in pregnancy so women should discuss the use of these products with their physician or pharmacist. Intermittent dosing of nicotine replacement therapies such as lozenges, gum or inhaler are preferred over continuous dosing of the patch.

It is likely that nicotine replacement therapy is safer than cigarette smoking as the mother and baby are only exposed to nicotine and none of the other 8,000+ chemicals in cigarette smoke. If you use nicotine replacement therapy instead of smoking cigarettes, the mother and baby are not exposed to the carbon monoxide that reduces oxygen uptake and flow to the developing baby.

Many women are able to quit during their pregnancy and enjoy the positive health effects that come with quitting. It’s important to plan how to stay quit once the baby is delivered as relapse is common after the baby is born.

For information and free support to help you quit, visit QuitNow, call 1-877-455-2233, or ask your pharmacist about the BC Smoking Cessation Program. Do you or a loved one have a quit story? Share it for your chance to win a Fitbit!

Let’s raise children in tobacco free families!


This article was first published in the Summer 2016 issue of Healthier You magazine. Check out the full issue below!

 

Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.

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Screening & follow-up care to prevent cardiovascular disease in women in Prince Rupert

This article was co-authored by Justine Derksen and Janice Paterson


Doctor in scrubs

Evidence has shown that pregnancy is a great place to evaluate cardiac risk. In Prince Rupert, Dr. Marius Pienaar has developed a screening program and software to identify and support women with cardiovascular risks.

Scientific evidence has shown that pregnancy is a great place to evaluate cardiac risk. In Prince Rupert, Dr. Marius Pienaar, a gynecologist, has developed a screening program and software which uses the data collected during a woman’s pregnancy to assess for cardiovascular risks and to coordinate referral and follow-up to prevent cardiovascular disease.

During the pregnancy, some basic measurements such as blood pressure and weight are recorded and a panel of blood tests are performed, including blood lipids and glucose. This data is then entered into the program to calculate a risk score for future cardiovascular disease. Women with elevated risk are then offered interventions, and their primary care provider is informed of this risk.

We have a golden opportunity to evaluate pregnant women with cardiovascular risk and this should not be missed. -Dr. Marius Pienaar

Dr. Pienaar explains that if a woman has diabetes in pregnancy, she is at a higher risk of having diabetes later in life and should be tested 6 weeks to 6 months after pregnancy. Currently, only about 20% of women are tested after pregnancy. Dr. Pienaar’s new software actively follows his patients and has created a referral and reminder system where every patient can be contacted and given opportunities to attend the North Coast Maternal Health Clinic for evaluation.

Walking in snow with mountain background.

Dr. Pienaar is hoping to make this unique program and software available across the province.

Currently, Dr. Pienaar’s clinic seeks to intervene by providing clinical care to at-risk women as well as offering smoking cessation resources, on-site dietitians and diabetes nurses, and more. 100% of postpartum patients who are screened and are identified as having increased risk are offered the postpartum health clinic visit. The program is expected to increase patient awareness of their own risk of cardiovascular disease and support women to access additional health care services to help reduce their risk.

I am very appreciative of the care and information I received in the North Coast Maternal Health Clinic. This program provided me with valuable information/assessment regarding future health risks. Such insight allows me to intervene early in order to improve my modifiable risk factors and ensure my future health and well-being. -Cherie Harvey-Malthus

The clinic has been a success so far and is very efficient and cost effective. Dr. Pienaar has seen success with this quality improvement project and hopes to make the program and software available across the province. There has already been interest from Fraser Health and the Lower Mainland to emulate the clinic model at other hospitals. This is the first such clinic in B.C. and the first rural clinic in Canada specifically geared to evaluate cardiovascular risk in postpartum patients.

Check out the full version of this article: An Innovative Program in Prince Rupert is Screening and Providing Follow-up Care for Women with Risk for CVD

Justine Derksen

About Justine Derksen

Justine works for Northern Health in Medical Affairs as the Coordinator, Physician Engagement Initiatives in Prince George. Justine loves the north and enjoys the seasonal activities with her husband and adorable Bernese Mountain dog any chance she gets. Justine is currently pursuing her masters of Public Health degree, which she was inspired to pursue through her work with Northern Health. When not at work, Justine enjoys cooking, outdoor recreational activities and crafting.

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World Breastfeeding Week: One mom’s story

Child at breast.

With the support of a daycare, one Prince George mom has been able to keep up breastfeeding while balancing work demands. How can you support breastfeeding in your community?

October 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week in Canada. The theme for the week this year is Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s make it work. We all have a role to play in supporting mothers to balance work and family demands. For me, this story of a working mom in Prince George is a great example of how we can support breastfeeding and strike this balance. Many thanks to the mom who shared this story and photo with me:

When I returned to work after my maternity leave, I was committed to finding ways to spend as much time with my son as possible, and to keeping up breastfeeding. So, as I interviewed and visited daycares, one of the most important questions I asked was whether the care provider was open to me visiting on my lunch hour to nurse my son. Both my previous and current daycares were very accommodating by providing us with a quiet and comfortable place to nurse. I’m proud to say that I’ve been spending lunch hours with my son for a full year now! Not only is it best for his healthy physical development, it’s also best to foster our attachment. And it’s a lovely midday break from the stresses and worries of work!

How can you support breastfeeding at home, at work, and in your community?

Stacy Hake

About Stacy Hake

Stacy is the Administrative Assistant for the Perinatal Program. She started with Northern Health at Mental Health & Addiction Services before moving over to the Northeast Medical Health Officer’s office and then onto the Perinatal Program. She lives and works in Fort St. John with her husband, two children and mother-in-law. When not working, she volunteers with her children’s dance/theatre productions and cheers during swimming lessons.

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World Breastfeeding Week: We all have a role to play!

Quote from article.

How can you support breastfeeding in your family, workplace, and community?

Canada celebrates World Breastfeeding Week every year from October 1-7 (check out the Government of B.C.’s proclamation of the week for 2015!). This gives Canadians the chance to acknowledge and promote breastfeeding as an important milestone on the road to lifelong health for both mothers and babies.

The World Health Organization recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding in addition to complementary foods into and beyond the second year. The longer a baby is breastfed, the greater the health benefits. Unfortunately, many mothers wean their children early and the main reason for this is a lack of support.

We all have a role to play! The journey to successful breastfeeding requires the support of families, health care providers, and other community members. Families can show support by helping with day-to-day tasks so that the new mother can focus her time and attention on feeding her baby. Health care providers can encourage women to breastfeed and assist them to find skilled help if they have concerns. Community gathering places can show that they are welcoming to breastfeeding mothers. Northern Health’s Growing for Gold campaign provides window decals for businesses and facilities to show their support for breastfeeding mothers.

This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week is “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s make it work”. The theme highlights the importance of supporting mothers to balance work and family demands. Workplace support not only helps the mother and family, but benefits employers through higher productivity, greater employee satisfaction and less employee absenteeism as breastfed babies get sick less often. Check out Breastfeeding and Returning to Work and the web-based Breastfeeding Buddy app from HealthyFamiliesBC with tips, tools, and videos to support breastfeeding.

Communities throughout northern B.C. are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in a variety of ways. Whether you are a breastfeeding mother, a family member, or simply interested in creating a community that is supportive of breastfeeding, I encourage you to acknowledge or join in with the celebrations in your community.

I’ve listed some of these activities below. What’s happening in your community?

  • Prince George: Mayor’s proclamation & Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge. October 3, 11:00 a.m. at the Northern Interior Health Unit (doors open at 9:30 a.m. for registration).
  • Quesnel: Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge. October 3, 11:00 a.m. at the Quesnel Child Development Centre (come early to register).
  • Hazelton: Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge. October 3, 11:00 a.m. at Starting Smart at the Grace Lynn Family Centre (behind Wrinch Memorial Hospital). Door prizes and a light brunch served after the challenge. Arrive at 10:30 a.m. or call ahead to register: 250-842-4608. You can also register and latch on at home, if transportation is difficult.
  • Fort St. John: Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge. October 3, 11:00 a.m. at Community Bridge (10142 101 Ave). Arrive by 10:45 a.m. to register.
  • Smithers: Breastfeeding Challenge. October 3, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at Smithers Public Library (3817 Alfred Ave).
Karen Warner

About Karen Warner

Karen is currently working as a Lactation Consultant at UHNBC after a long career with Preventive Public Health. Karen's strong commitment to providing support to breastfeeding families is a result of what she has learned through her work over the years: that a healthy start in life is the first step in the journey to long term well-being. Promoting, supporting and protecting breastfeeding is key to influencing that healthy start. In her leisure time, depending on the season, you will find Karen crafting, gardening, hiking, cross-country skiing or just hanging out enjoying time with her family.

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