Smoking cessation care during pregnancy: A qualitative exploration of midwives’ challenging role

Publication Name

Women and Birth


Problem: The majority of South Australian pregnant women who smoke do not quit during pregnancy. Additionally, the prevalence of smoking is higher among pregnant women living in socially disadvantaged areas. Background: Understanding challenges in midwives’ provision of smoking cessation care can elucidate opportunities to facilitate women's smoking cessation. Aim: We aimed to understand midwives’ perspectives on current practices, perceived barriers and facilitators to delivery of smoking cessation care, and potential improvements to models of smoking cessation care. Methods: An exploratory qualitative research methodology and thematic analysis was used to understand the perspectives of midwives in five focus groups. Findings: Four themes were generated from the data on how midwives perceived their ability to provide smoking cessation care: Tensions between providing smoking cessation care and maternal care; Organisational barriers in the delivery of smoking cessation care; Scepticism and doubt in the provision of smoking cessation care; and Opportunities to enable midwives’ ability to provide smoking cessation care. Discussion: A combination of interpersonal, organisational and individual barriers impeded on midwives’ capacities to approach, follow-up and prioritise smoking cessation care. Working with women living with disadvantage and high rates of smoking, the midwife's role was challenging as it balanced delivering smoking cessation care without jeopardising antenatal care. Conclusion: Providing midwives with resources and skills may alleviate the sense of futility that surrounds smoking cessation care. Provision of routine training and education could also improve understandings of the current practice guidelines.

Open Access Status

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Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Channel 7 Children's Research Foundation



Link to publisher version (DOI)