Monitors help mums face dangers of smoking

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New mum Amy Paki with baby Marewa and midwife Natasha Rawiri with one of six carbon monoxide monitors being used throughout the BOPDHB's maternity departments. Photo/supplied
New mum Amy Paki with baby Marewa and midwife Natasha Rawiri with one of six carbon monoxide monitors being used throughout the BOPDHB's maternity departments. Photo/supplied

Motherhood has put smoking into perspective for one first-time mum who is encouraging other pregnant woman to quit.

Amy Paki gave birth to a baby girl, Marewa, on Monday, August 1, and said the experience of pregnancy and motherhood had been life changing.

"I look at her and think why would I want to smoke?"

Ms Paki has been using one of six carbon monoxide monitors purchased by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board's (BOPDHB) maternity department. The machines give pregnant smokers an immediate reading of their carbon monoxide (CO2) levels and what those levels mean for the health of their unborn child. Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to growth restriction, hypoxia, foetal death, foetal brain damage, SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy) and pre-term birth.

"This is my first baby and it puts things into perspective," said the 32-year-old, who has been smoking since she was 18.

She has encouraged other family members to quit as well as she does not want them smoking around baby Marewa.

BOPDHB Midwife Natasha Rawiri said Ms Paki's response was not uncommon. For example, one expectant mum burst into tears the first time she used one of the monitors.

"The reading wasn't exceptionally high but it was enough to make her stop and think," Ms Rawiri said.

"A lot of the comments we get are that having the figures staring you in the face, physically seeing them and knowing what that means, really makes it sink in.

"Smoking lowers the levels of oxygen in your blood and for pregnant women that means their babies are not getting the oxygen they need. That can have a range of impacts depending on the level."

The handheld carbon monoxide monitor, the piCObabyTM Smokerlyzer®, works in the same way as a breathalyzer with the mum-to-be delivering a long, slow breath into it. Staff then use the reading to establish the woman's smoking dependence and plan the best treatment for her. The use of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is often recommended for pregnant women who are unable to stop smoking on their own.

"We would encourage any pregnant woman who smokes to use the machine," Ms Rawiri said.

"It spells out where you are and where you should be."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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