Baby and Me Tobacco Free

Quitting smoking is hard enough as it is. But when you find out you’re going to have a baby, you know the time to quit is now—no ifs, ands or cigarette butts.


Slidell Memorial Hospital is proud to host the stop-smoking cessation "Baby and Me Tobacco Free on Mondays and Wednesdays.


The program consists of one-on-one counselling to encourage expecting mothers to quit smoking during their pregnancy and to stay smoke-free after their baby is born. Mothers meeting all program requirements receive monthly vouchers for six months of free diapers.


The Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans (CAGNO), a United Way agency, provides the diapers for the program.


CAGNO Health Education Director and Baby & Me Tobacco Free Program Facilitator Ashlee Menke says CAGNO promotes cancer-fighting programs like "Baby and Me” through education, patient services and research.It assists local cancer patients and their families by providing support that enables them to continue their treatment.


"CAGNO provides financial assistance to patients undergoing cancer treatment,” Menke explains. "We are available to assist Slidell Memorial Hospital cancer patients if they need financial assistance to help with medication, rent, utilities, and that sort of thing while they’re undergoing cancer treatment."

CAGNO offers "Baby and Me” to residents in St. Tammany, Orleans and Jefferson parishes.


Menke says she has been working with the program for three years and has helped about 20 New Orleans-area moms each year.


"We have between 60 and 70 percent quit rate every year, measuring into the postpartum period.”


How does Menke know if the participants are not smoking?


"They have to breathe into a carbon monoxide monitor to prove that they haven't been smoking to get their voucher,” Menke says. "That’s a big motivation, when they can give proof that they've quit. They want to show that proof. At that point they're very proud of what they've accomplished."


Headquartered in Jamestown, New York, the national Baby and Me Tobacco Free Program has improved lives and strengthened communities by helping thousands of women quit smoking during pregnancy.


Women who quit smoking are less likely to have premature and low-birth weight babies. Kicking the cigarette habit for good after the baby is born extends the positive health outcomes for women and their families by reducing the damaging effects of secondhand smoke. This results in healthier mothers and healthier babies.


"The pilot program tested different rewards, like diapers, breast pumps, and gift cards,” Menke says. "But diapers were the one thing that were universal to all these women and their needs," she said. "No matter where you are in life, free diapers are going to be a big help."


Baby & Me Tobacco Free is conducted at the SMH Community Outreach Center Mondays and Wednesdays by appointment only.


For more information or to request an application, call Menke at 504-733-5539.

You don't have to be a mom-to-be to get help! SMH Regional Cancer Center also provides help, with resources from the Smoking Cessation Trust, to longtime smokers in our community who would like to quit. Any current Louisiana resident who was a smoker prior to September 1, 1988, and wants to stop smoking cigarettes can benefit from this great resource. For more information, call (985) 280-6612.