PLANS to stop pregnant women smoking and encourage them to lead healthier lives will be unveiled today. Wales has the highest rates of women who smoke while they are pregnant and of maternal obesity. The plans to improve the lifestyles of mothers-to-be is part of a wider strategy to improve maternity services in Wales. The draft strategy, which will be subject to a three-month consultation, states that maternity services in Wales will “aim to be among the best in the world”.
Women will have access to a range of high-quality choices of care, from midwife to consultant-led services, in a range of settings that include home, hospital or a midwife-led birth centre.
And the strategy states the service will employ a “highly- trained” workforce.
Health Minister Edwina Hart said: “Maternity services have improved significantly in recent years with more investment in new equipment, facilities and staff. The new strategy aims to build on the achievements so far, and ensure consistency in services across Wales.
“With nearly 35,000 children born in Wales each year, and a year-on-year increase in the birth rate over the last five years, this draft strategy outlines how every child in Wales has a secure start in life, and that the mother, her partner and family begin parenting feeling confident and well supported.
“The health of children is influenced by what happens throughout pregnancy and even before, so it is vitally important that efforts to ensure that the mother and child are safe and healthy need to start well before the birth.”
Dr Jean White, Wales’ chief nursing officer, said: “The months before and the years immediately after birth are crucial to the life chances of the mother, her child and family.
“The health and happiness of future generations can be enhanced through the provision of world-class maternity services.
“Pregnancy is a powerful motivator for change and a time when women and their partners make positive lifestyle changes and choices in order to provide the optimal conditions to ensure the health and wellbeing of their unborn baby.”