Breastfeeding and Smoking

While breastfeeding and smoking are not recommended, a mother who smokes can still breastfeed her baby. Most people know that cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke inhalation are health risks.

The more cigarettes a mother smokes, the more dangerous it is for both mother and baby no matter how the baby is fed.

The current recommendation for breastfeeding mothers who smoke cigarettes is to continue to breastfeed and cut down on the amount smoked and do NOT expose babies to second-hand smoke.

Nicotine levels in the breastfeeding mother’s blood and milk first increase and then decrease over time. It takes is 95 minutes for half of the nicotine to be eliminated from the body, otherwise known as half-life. Breastfeeding mothers should avoid smoking just before nursing and should never smoke while feeding her baby.

Less Than 20 Cigarettes Per Day

Smoking under 20 cigarettes per day is less risky. Risks from nicotine in the breast milk are higher when a breastfeeding mother smokes more than twenty to thirty cigarettes a day.

Risks of Breastfeeding and Smoking

Heavy smoking can reduce milk supply. A study done on breastfeeding and smoking states that cigarette smoking significantly reduces breast milk production.

On rare occasions cigarette smoke has caused symptoms in the breastfeeding baby such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

Smoking can stop or inhibit the milk let-down reflex.

Smoking has been linked to early weaning.

Smoking can cause fussiness and colic.

Risks of Second-Hand Smoke

These increased risks apply to both breastfed and formula-fed babies though bottle-fed babies who are also exposed to smoke may be at even greater risk as they do not receive the extra protection from their mother’s milk.




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