, Volume 18, Issue 10, pp 2316-2322
Date: 09 Nov 2013

Reducing Smoking in Pregnancy Among Māori Women: “Aunties” Perceptions and Willingness to Help

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Māori (the indigenous people of New Zealand) women have high rates of smoking during pregnancy and 42 % register with a lead maternity carer (LMC) after their first trimester, delaying receipt of cessation support. We used a participatory approach with Māori community health workers (“Aunties”) to determine their willingness and perceived ability to find pregnant Māori smokers early in pregnancy and to provide cessation support. Three meetings were held in three different regions in New Zealand. The aunties believed they could find pregnant women in first trimester who were still smoking by using their networks, the ‘kumara-vine’ (sweet potato vine), tohu (signs/omens), their instinct and by looking for women in the age range most likely to get pregnant. The aunties were willing to provide cessation and other support but they said they would do it in a “Māori way” which depended on formed relationships and recognised roles within families. The aunties’ believed that their own past experiences with pregnancy and/or smoking would be advantageous when providing support. Aunties’ knowledge about existing proven cessation methods and services and knowledge about how to register with a LMC ranged from knowing very little to having years of experience working in the field. They were all supportive of receiving up-to-date information on how best to support pregnant women to stop smoking. Aunties in communities believe that they could find pregnant women who smoke and they are willing to help deliver cessation support. Our ongoing research will test the effectiveness of such an approach.