FRESH START: A Feasibility Study of a Relapse Prevention Programme for Postpartum Women

Smoking during the postnatal period is an important public health issue as it has detrimental health effects for both the baby and the mother. The majority of women who quit smoking during pregnancy are 'spontaneous quitters' who quit on finding out that they are pregnant and before receiving advice or intervention from prenatal care providers. Despite the ability of spontaneous quitters to successfully abstain during pregnancy, 61-85% of these women relapse during the postpartum period. The postpartum period presents a unique window of opportunity to provide a relapse prevention intervention that addresses the specific motivational and stress related issues for post partum women. This study is a preliminary field test of an innovative and theoretically driven programme that directly addresses these concerns through a group-mediated cognitive-behavioral approach in addressing relapse prevention and as a novel component, in motivating participants to initiate, and then sustain physical activity during transition to individual home-based exercise. As a feasibility study, our primary research outcomes relate to understanding recruitment and adherence to the programme, and identifying any need for modifications to the programme. Results will serve as a foundation for seeking further funding to evaluate the programme within a controlled design. As such, it will contribute to the limited research that exists regarding what works in preventing relapse in this population while providing the basis for a specific programme that is tailored to the needs of this underserved group.