There's one fact of life I can't accept – and it has to change
Strategic lead for public health prevention in maternity and smokefree pregnancies, North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB)
As a mother of five, midwife and health visitor, there's not much I haven't come across in the world of pregnancy and early years.
But there's one fact of life I just can't accept. Mums and babies from deprived communities are more likely to face health problems.
There can be all sorts of reasons for this – from obesity or difficulties accessing healthcare to alcohol and smoking - but it needs to change.
As a child I was used to seeing my parents smoke, so I know only too well how smoking affects children. Smoking in pregnancy means all sorts of risks – from stillbirth, miscarriage and heart abnormalities to low birth weight, respiratory and ear infections.
And it doesn't stop there: it even increases the risk of hyperactivity as a child or mental health problems later in life.
That knowledge drives me on every day to make a difference. Pregnancy is the moment where we can transform the health of generations.
I'm part of the ICB's public health prevention in maternity workstream: above all, we want better services, safer families, and a better start in life for our children.
Tackling tobacco is absolutely critical for us, alongside other key issues like alcohol, breastfeeding, mental health and immunisations.
We know how hard it is to quit smoking. Our new pathway offers high quality, holistic tobacco treatment support, with a financial incentive and vouchers for nicotine replacement therapy. Our maternity staff are now specially trained to help pregnant women quit tobacco.
We know there's a lot more to do. We're already looking to the future, with research to gain a better insight into challenges faced by women in our region, helping us to develop quality approaches to smoking in pregnancy, breastfeeding, reproductive health and post-natal care.
Want to know more?
Read more about how the ICB and its partners are working to improve public health in maternity in our region on the ICB website.
To find your local stop smoking service visit the North East and North Cumbria Local Maternity Service website.