Smoking and Breastfeeding – Is It Safe To Breastfeed While Smoking?


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smoking and breastfeeding

Do smoking and breastfeeding fit in the same sentence? Yup, you may have asked yourself this question. If you are an active smoker and wish to breastfeed your baby.

Well, look no further as we answer all your queries about smoking and breastfeeding.

Smoking Mums and Mums to be!

It’s no surprise that approximately 10% of women smoke at some time during pregnancy. And even after the birth of their baby, in the postpartum period.

Although some going to- be mummies do tend to reduce the number of cigarettes per day. And try to minimize their intake of cigarettes and other alternatives such as cigar or E-cigarettes. It is still common for most women to resume smoking immediately following the delivery of their baby.

These rates are especially higher for women with some form of psychiatric disease. And the relapse is more for mums who develop postpartum depression and psychosis!

Also Read: Is Breastfeeding With A Cold Safe? A Comprehensive Guide For Mothers

Smoking and Breastfeeding

Having a baby is no easy job. It’s a really hectic and stressful period, especially if it’s your first time. And yeah you may feel so tired that chugging down several mugs of coffee won’t do the trick. And your smoking cravings may cause you to give in!

Nicotine is a psychoactive chemical present in cigarettes. And other variant forms containing tobacco, though in different concentrations. It is also highly addictive! Which is why it is very difficult for an active smoker, especially a chain smoker to get rid of this addiction.

The known harmful effects of nicotine on the expecting mum and the fetus have been documented. And there is a lot of emphasis to quit smoking if planning for pregnancy.

Also Read: All Newly Married Women Should Discuss This With Their Partners!

Should I Consider Breastfeeding if I Smoke?

Despite all the harmful effects of smoking, it may be hard for you to quit smoking. No matter how hard you try! That is because nicotine is a very addictive and hard substance to quit.

But then comes the question of breastfeeding your baby. You may be terrified of feeding your milk to the baby. Knowing that nicotine is not the safest thing present in the milk.

But you’d be surprised to know that you should breastfeed your baby despite actively smoking! Yup, you heard us right. That is because the benefits of breastfeeding your baby outweigh the risks of nicotine in the milk.

Also Read: How To Get A Woman Pregnant Fast?

Breastmilk Vs Formula Feed

Breastmilk is the best food for your newborn baby. It is jam-packed with so many nutrients as well as healthy antibodies. That helps in protecting your baby from a number of diseases.

So, with all these benefits, it is recommended you breastfeed your baby despite smoking. Rather than smoke and give your baby formula feed.

This fact comes from the observation that babies whose mums did smoke and fed them their own produce ended up having protection against several health conditions. Such as diarrhea and other tummy troubles, certain types of cancer, and diabetes.

It also protects the harmful effects of cigarette smoke on a baby’s lungs. You can definitely not get all these benefits from the artificial feed.

Not only the baby, but breastfeeding also has beneficial effects on the mother’s health. Breastfeeding is linked with a reduction in breast cancer, helps in early shedding of pregnancy weight postpartum. And also strengthens that beautiful mother-baby bond!

Also Read: Diet For Breastfeeding Mothers To Increase Milk

How Does Smoking Affect Breast – Feeding?

Smoking and breastfeeding isn’t a healthy choice. That is because smoking has been linked to reducing the production of breastmilk.  As it causes a decrease in the production of the hormone prolactin. The milk-producing hormone.

Not only is the quantity affected, but it also compromises the quality. As vitamin C levels in the breast milk of a smoking mum are less than a nonsmoking mum.

This doesn’t stop here. The milk let-down reflex is also compromised. And smoking mothers tend to wean their babies earlier than non-smoking ones.

Also Read: Breast Soreness and Menstrual Cycle – Are these Interlinked?

Harmful Effects of Nicotine on the Baby?

With regard to smoking and breastfeeding, a common concern is, “Does nicotine enter the breast milk if I am smoking?”

And the answer is yes. This may come as an alarm ringing loud. But the amount of nicotine that passes into breast milk is double the amount of nicotine that crosses through the placenta!

And with this much amount of nicotine comes in the harmful effects. Let’s look at a few of these.

  • Poor and stunted growth
  • Increase in the incidence of ‘crib death’ or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (Read about when should baby sleep in crib?)
  • A child more prone to develop respiratory allergies, and other problems.
  • Nicotine Dependence. Just as adults, babies also develop an addiction to nicotine. This comes from a combination of both nicotine in breast milk as well as in second-hand smoke.

And they also develop withdrawal symptoms if that amount of nicotine isn’t available to them. These withdrawal symptoms in babies include irritability, fussiness, headaches, and symptoms of disturbed sleep. (Read When Do Kids Stop Napping?)

Also Read: Having A Breastfeeding Baby Constipated? What Should You Do?

Smoking and Breastfeeding – How to Go Hand in Hand?

With the many benefits of breastfeeding, and harms of smoking. How to find a middle lane? It is definitely not possible to quit smoking overnight.

So, what measures to take to ensure the benefits of breastfeeding while at the same time protecting baby boo from harm?

Given below are some ways to work out.

Smoking Cessation!

This is obviously the first thing to do when you plan to conceive. Smoking has detrimental effects on the growing fetus. Hence it is better to start from step 1.

Cut Down on the Cigars!

While immediately giving up maybe a hard task. Try cutting down on the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. It’s all about the small steps!

Also Read: Eating During Labor: What to Choose and What to Avoid?

Smoke Away from Your Baby

When lighting up a cigarette or two, try doing it in a separate room. Away from your baby. Hence minimizing the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

Smoke After Breastfeeding

This is important as nicotine has a half-life of 90 minutes. And our goal is to minimize the amount of nicotine that enters your milk while nursing. Also, try keeping as long a time gap between smoking and breastfeeding as you could.

Also Read: When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start?

Smoking and Breastfeeding- The Takeaway?

Though it is not advisable to smoke while breastfeeding. It is still recommended owing to the benefits of breastfeeding for both the mum and baby.

Doing it the right way saves you from a lot of trouble. And remember to always check in with your doctor if you feel your baby’s health is in danger.

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