Breastfeeding And Smoking

Smoking is one of the hardest habits to break. Whilst it is in your baby’s best interests to stop smoking, this isn’t always possible for some mothers. It is especially hard to give up an addiction at a time of stress or major disruption, which having a baby undoubtedly is. Should you find yourself unable to stop smoking but still wish to breastfeed here are some points to consider.

Do your best to cut back. Any reduction in your in-take of nicotine is of benefit to your baby; if you smoke, certain levels of your nicotine are passed onto your baby through smoke inhalational and breast milk. You should also be aware that studies show that smoking reduces milk supply, so any reduction in smoking will help your milk supply. To help keep levels high enough to satisfy your baby’s needs, feed on demand as frequent feeds helps to encourage milk production.

Always smoke AFTER you’ve breastfeed your baby. It goes without saying that you should smoke in another room from your baby. Never smoke in enclosed location with your baby. Smoking outside helps keep your baby from inhaling second-hand smoke – a risk factor for SIDS and life-long respiratory problems. Also, smoking after breastfeeding your baby will help to reduce the amount of nicotine in your blood supply and, therefore, breast milk.

Consider using nicotine patches as these can reduce your blood and milk levels of nicotine. Your baby also gets the benefit of not having to inhale smoke. Do not use both cigarettes and nicotine patches as you will be adding further chemicals into your baby’s milk supply than from smoking alone. Nicotine gum is also beneficial. Like smoking, nicotine levels go up and down, so ensure that you use the gum AFTER you’ve breastfed your baby.

There are other things you should be aware of when you breastfeed. Others – and your baby – may be able to smell nicotine in your expressed milk. You baby is certainly able to taste it and may, therefore, take to breastfeeding less easily than babies whose mothers don’t smoke. You baby’s blood stream will contain nicotine passed on through your breast milk. His urine will also contain traces of nicotine.

So, should you breastfeed at all if you smoke? The answer is yes. Breast milk, unlike formula milk, contains your antibodies and your nutrients that will help your baby fight off infection and help its immune system: something formula milk does not have and is not able to do.