Breaking ties with a harmful substance will help your overall health no matter what, but when you’ve also got another life linked to yours, the benefits are even greater.
For more information about Baby and Me Tobacco Free in Moffat County, call 970-871-7643 or visit www.babyandmetobaccofree.org. For more information about the program in Routt County, call Hope Cook, RN, at 970-871-7622.
The Baby and Me Tobacco Free program recently has started up again through the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association after a hiatus from the area.
The health initiative works with women struggling with quitting smoking who also are newly pregnant. Experts work with participants at four intervals throughout the process, followed by monthly check-ins after the baby is born to maintain that the mother is staying smoke-free by testing the carbon monoxide levels from her breath.
Women who stay the course can receive a $25 voucher to go toward the purchase of diapers each month for as long as one year.
Sara Hitz, an educator for WIC in Moffat County — the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — coordinates the program, which already has received about 22 applicants.
The purpose of Baby and Me is not to cause extra strife for new mothers or stigmatize them for their behavior but to make sure they have an option to get healthier, and likewise, ensure a better experience for their child.
“We provide cessation support and help them come up with a goal of how they’re going to continue to be smoke-free during pregnancy and after delivery,” she said. “We also help them come up with a ‘quit date.’”
Hitz has overseen Baby and Me for several years within the area and is glad to see its return because of the need for the services.
According to data from this year’s Kids Count report from the Colorado Children’s Campaign, 22.5 percent of births within Moffat County were to women who smoked during pregnancy, well above the state rate of 7.4 percent. In Routt County, that number is at 4.6 percent.
Besides the health benefits to the mother’s body from smoking cessation, the effects on the growing life within her will be innumerable, Hitz said.
“It increases their chance to have a full-term baby and increases the baby’s chances to be born at a healthy weight,” she said.
She added that staying away from traditional cigarettes is not the only concern and that smoking marijuana or electronic cigarettes can be just as harmful for a developing fetus.
After the birth, the threat of secondhand smoke means parents should continue to stay away from the habit. However, looking after an infant can be even more stressful than the pregnancy itself, increasing the mother’s urge to indulge in a cigarette.
“I’ve had a lot of people say it gets harder as it goes,” Hitz said.
Hitz mentioned there have been plenty of women who have succeeded in the program, many of whom regretted using tobacco during a previous pregnancy and opted to not make the mistake again.
“They want to make better choices,” Hitz said.
Hitz said the VNA was unable to offer the full number of services from Baby and Me in recent years because of a lack of funding, but with more money available, she hopes to see a great deal of turnout.
“Right now, as many pregnant women who are willing to quit smoking, we’d be happy to take them,” she said.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.