Breastfeeding and smoking is very bad. You need to make sure to feed your baby anyway. But remember smoking around a little baby can be terrible for their health. It is well known that smoking during pregnancy can harm the baby, but what about breastfeeding and smoking? What are the risks if you continue to smoke while nursing your baby? And if you cannot quit, should you breastfeed at all?
Breastfeeding And Smoking
Breastfeeding and smoking may not seem so dangerous as smoking in pregnancy because at least the baby is now receiving oxygen from the air. As long as you do not smoke around the baby, she can receive unpolluted oxygen. However, her only food source is still coming from your body, and it will contain nicotine and other toxins. In fact, there is more nicotine in breast milk than in the blood that reaches a fetus through the placenta.
Babies receiving breast milk from mothers who smoke more than 5 cigarettes a day are more likely to suffer from digestive problems including colic, nausea and diarrhea. If there is smoke in the air that the baby breathes, she also has an increased risk of respiratory diseases including asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.
If you managed to quit smoking when you were pregnant, then it is worth holding out a little longer. Even though your baby is not dependent on your blood supply any more, she will still receive toxins through your milk. Over 4000 different toxins have been identified in cigarette smoke. Your body will get rid of these any way that it can, and through the milk is one way.
If you smoked through your pregnancy, then it will still benefit your baby if you can quit now. Be careful how you do it because heavy use of nicotine replacement products would not be good for your milk either.
When they hear these facts about breastfeeding and smoking, many nursing mothers ask: okay, so if I am nursing I should not smoke, but what about the other way around? If I smoke and I don’t believe I can quit, should I still breastfeed, or is it better to give my baby a store-bought baby milk that will not contain these toxins?
Breastfeeding is Still Very Important
The answer from the medical world is that yes you should still breastfeed even if you smoke, as long as you have enough milk. Heavy smokers tend to produce less milk than non-smokers, so this may be an issue and you will need to ensure that your baby is receiving enough to be well nourished. Smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day has been shown to reduce breast milk production.
If you cannot quit, then at least be sure not to smoke around the baby and avoid smoking right before you nurse. The nicotine levels in the blood are highest when you have just had a cigarette. So if you have to smoke, the best time is right after the baby finishes feeding. Then she will usually fall asleep and you can leave her safe in her crib and go outside the house to smoke.
But keep in mind that as your baby grows, she will be around you more and more. When babies are older they may not be taking your milk any more but they will be more likely to be around your smoke. So now is a great time to quit if you possibly can, and reduce the risks to your baby from the effects of breastfeeding and smoking.