smoking and breastfeeding

Should a mother who smokes cigarettes also breastfeed?

First of all, you should remember the following rule:

YES! A mother who cannot stop smoking should breastfeed. The negative consequences of not nursing are higher and should be avoided.

However, this does not mean that smoking has no negative influence on your child.

Please read this article to the end and remember the information provided. It can not only improve your own life, but also your children’s, maybe even rescue them.

How important is breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding strengthens immunity and aids in the fight against diseases. For example, breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the negative effects of cigarette smoke on a baby’s lungs. It’s definitely better if breastfeeding mothers don’t smoke, but if you can’t stop smoking, then it’s better to smoke and breastfeed.

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The more cigarettes you smoke, the greater the health risks for you and your baby.

If you can’t stop smoking, or don’t want to stop smoking, it’s better for your baby to at least reduce the number of cigarettes. Every cigarette is a step towards better health for you and your child.smoking effects breastfeeding

What consequences does smoking have on my child during breastfeeding?

The effects of smoking on children are numerous. Here are just a few of the effects. Please read them carefully and imagine if you really want your child to be exposed to these risks.

  • Babies and children exposed to cigarette smoke are much more likely to develop diseases such as pneumonia, asthma, ear infections, bronchitis, sinus infections and eye irritation.
  • Colic is more common in infants whose mothers or fathers smoke or when a breastfeeding mother smokes. Researchers believe that not only does the nicotine transferred to breast milk change the baby, but the passive smoke in the house also acts as an irritant.
  • Heavy smoking by breastfeeding mothers occasionally causes symptoms in the breastfeeding baby such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
  • Babies of smoking mothers and fathers have a seven times greater chance of dying of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Children of smoking parents have two to three times more visits to the doctor, mostly due to respiratory infections or allergic diseases.
  • Children exposed to passive smoke at home have lower blood sugar levels of HDL, the good cholesterol that helps protect against coronary heart disease.
  • Children of smoking parents are more likely to become smokers themselves.
  • A recent study found that growing up in a house where two parents smoked could double the child’s risk of lung cancer later in life.

smoking while nursing

How does smoking affect breastfeeding?

Smoking has been associated with the following effects:

  • Earlier withdrawal of the child. One study showed that the heaviest smokers tend to quit nursing the child faster. If the child is weaned too early, this can have health consequences.
  • Lower milk production
  • Impairment of milk discharge
  • Lower prolactin levels. The hormone prolactin must be present for milk synthesis to take place.
  • One study found that smoking mothers living in areas with mild to moderate iodine deficiency have less iodine in their breast milk (required for the baby’s thyroid function) than non-smokers. The study authors suggested that breastfeeding mothers (who smoke) consider taking an iodine supplement. Please consult your doctor and ask for advice.
  • Although smoking is associated with milk production and withdrawal symptoms, this may be due to poor breastfeeding behaviour rather than physiological causes.

Dr. Lisa Amir concluded in a report published in 2001 that

“Although there is consistent evidence that women who breast-feed their babies for a shorter period of time than non-smokers are not strong in evidence of a physiological mechanism, the evidence of a physiological mechanism is not strong”.

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How you can minimize the risk to your baby if you smoke

Ideally, quit smoking.

  • Reduce it. The less you smoke, the less likely you are to experience difficulties. The risk increases if you smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day.
  • Do not smoke immediately before or during breastfeeding. It hinders defecation and is dangerous for your baby.
  • Smoke immediately after breastfeeding to reduce the nicotine level in your milk during breastfeeding. Wait as long as possible between smoking and breastfeeding. It takes 95 minutes for half the nicotine to be removed from the body.
  • Avoid smoking with the baby in the same room. It is even better to smoke outside.
  • Do not let anyone else smoke near your baby.


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