BACKGROUND: Despite the health risks of smoking, some women continue during pregnancy. Professional smoking cessation support has shown to be effective in increasing the proportion of pregnant women who quit smoking. However, few women actually make use of professional support.
AIM: To investigate the needs of women and their partners for professional smoking cessation support during pregnancy.
METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were held with pregnant women and women who recently gave birth who smoked or quit smoking during pregnancy, and their partners, living in the north of the Netherlands. Recruitment was done via Facebook, LinkedIn, food banks, baby stores and healthcare professionals. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed.
RESULTS: 28 interviews were conducted, 23 with pregnant women and women who recently gave birth, and five with partners of the women. The following themes were identified: 1) understanding women's needs, 2) responsibility without criticism, and 3) women and their social network. These themes reflect that women need support from an involved and understanding healthcare professional, who holds women responsible for smoking cessation but refrains from criticism. Women also prefer involvement of their social network in the professional support.
CONCLUSION: For tailored support, the Dutch guideline for professional smoking cessation support may need some adaptations. The adaptations and recommendations, e.g. to involve women and their partners in the development of guidelines, might also be valuable for other countries. Women prefer healthcare professionals to address smoking cessation in a neutral way and to respect their autonomy in the decision to stop smoking.