A beautiful and extraordinary sculpture celebrating Smokefree pregnancy has been unveiled outside the maternity department at Wythenshawe Hospital. The sculpture, ‘Air to Breathe’ has been inspired by a baby’s need for oxygen to grow and develop properly during pregnancy.
The project is a joint partnership between Wythenshawe Community Housing Group (WCHG), the Stop Smoking Service at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust (MMHSCT) and South Manchester University Hospital NHS Trust (UHSM).
Wythenshawe Community Housing Group provided the funding as part of their health strategy in improving health of people in Wythenshawe. Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive WCHG said: “We are happy to contribute the funding of this project as we can see the benefits of something artistic and engaging. We are committed, as everyone involved, to helping people be more aware of not smoking during pregnancy and not having smoking in their homes so that babies in Wythenshawe get the best possible start to their lives”.
Local community artists Adrian and Siobhain Moakes were commissioned to work with pregnant women, their partners and families, along with maternity and children’s centre staff in workshops in Wythenshawe. Siobhain said: “We asked people to look at their own scan photos and create little wire sculptures of their own. Adrian then turned them into amazing little pieces, which were welded together for the central part to become a foetal shape with a casing to protect it.
“We were trying to show a positive image with ‘Air to Breathe’, to illustrate a baby’s need for oxygen during pregnancy. We are delighted that one of the mums was involved in unveiling the sculpture.
“Along with the sculpture we have a photographic record on permanent display, mounted on the wall inside the maternity entrances, showing images from the workshops held throughout Wythenshawe”.
Over the last year in Manchester, smoking rates at time of delivery went down to 12.5%, lower than the England average. Good news for women and their babies, who are more likely to be born at full term, of healthy weight and well – benefits that last a lifetime.
Bridget Hughes, General Manager of the Health and Wellbeing Service, Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust said: “Partnership working has enabled us to reduce the rates of smoking in pregnancy. In the Health and Wellbeing Service we have an overall strategy of training everyone who comes into contact with any women who might be pregnant, including midwives, health visitors, staff in children’s centres and community groups. More importantly, however, the success has been the women themselves who have stopped smoking during pregnancy.
“With funding from Wythenshawe Community Housing Trust we’ve had a great opportunity to promote awareness of Smokefree pregnancy. We want to continue to encourage and support innovative partnership working, as it’s the only way we can run campaigns like this with limited resources. I just want to thank all those involved.”
Nora Ann Heery, Deputy Chief Executive UHSM said: “We are delighted to be involved in this partnership with the mums, WCHG, colleagues from MMHSCT and the artists. It’s great to have the sculpture on our doorstep, promoting Smokefree pregnancy. It will be a real talking point and I’m sure it will inspire many to quit during pregnancy”.
Michaela Dixon, one of the parents who took part in the workshop, said: “I really enjoyed being part of the project. It really meant a lot to me. I am grateful for the opportunity given by the artists. It’s a privilege to have a contribution of my children, who were born in Wythenshawe Hospital, as a long lasting piece of history.
“It’s a great project which involved local women, making the artwork more real. It makes the message of Smokefree pregnancy more powerful for that reason. Thank you to everyone for allowing me the opportunity to be involved in a great project.”