"Ūkaipō" programme to encourage expectant mums to quit smoking

Mum-to-be Moana Ngatai has given up smoking for her unborn son and is encouraging other expectant mums to do the same.

Although she is pregnant with her second child, the 32-year-old from Matakana Island said giving up smoking this time was much harder than for her first pregnancy.

Ngatai says, “The first pregnancy I gave up smoking straight away but I have a lot more stresses this time around. I have two step-daughters as well as my 12-year-old daughter, so I already have three children to look after and that comes with its pressures. I know how difficult it can be and why people often need support.”

That support will be found for many at the “Ūkaipō” Wahine Māori – Strengthening Whanau  programme which runs over three days, starting on 1 November, at Maungatapu Marae.

Facilitator Tiana Bennett from the Western Bay of Plenty PHO (WBOPPHO) says the programme is interactive and has been designed to provide pregnant women and their whānau with the necessary information and skills to become smokefree. The WBOPPHO is co-hosting the event with the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Te Kupenga Hauora.

Bennett says, “Over the three days, there will be guest speakers, participation in interactive workshops, carbon monoxide monitoring and incentives offered as an encouragement for the pregnant woman, and support person, to quit smoking; as well as follow-up appointments if required.

The risks to an unborn child, when a pregnant woman smokes, are well-documented and most pregnant women are aware of at least some risks. Despite this, not all pregnant women cease or reduce smoking. We’re aiming to increase the number of Māori women in the Tauranga area going smokefree.”

Ngatai has been smokefree for three weeks now but said it was hard taking the final step to quit.

She says, “I’m an avid radio listener and I would often hear the radio adverts about quitting. When I first heard them I would turn the radio down because I felt guilty, I didn’t want to hear it, but it was still kicking away at my conscience.

I was on patches for three days and I’ve taken up sewing as a way of taking my mind off smoking. I’m also trying different ways of coping with stressful situations, different tactics, rather than reaching for a cigarette.

I’m someone who is always trying to do the best by other people and for my family and that is what I’m doing now for my son.”