Smoking and breastfeeding

Smoking and breastfeeding – Transcript

If you’re a smoker, and you’ve really struggled to give up smoking, it can be tempting to think that formula must be the best option in this situation. But the truth is that it is still safer for your baby to continue to breastfeed. Research has shown that babies and children, who are exposed to cigarette smoke, certainly do have a higher incidence of things like pneumonia, chest infections, ear infections (benefits of breastfeeding) and sometimes sinus problems as well. But the great thing about breast milk is that it does have anti-bodies in it which will help to counteract some of the negative impacts of cigarette smoking, and can actually help to fight against these illnesses.

Of course it is better that you don’t smoke at all, but if you’re finding it really difficult to do that, then certainly reducing the amount of cigarettes you smoke per day is really advantageous, and know that breastfeeding can continue, and there are certainly ways to minimise the risks.

So how can you reduce those risks to your baby? One of the most important things you can do is to smoke straight after feeding your baby, so that there’s a longer period of time between nursing your baby, and having a cigarette. And there are studies showing that it can take up to 95 minutes for half of that nicotine to be out of your system.

Research is really clear about the risks of passive smoke. So it’s an excellent idea to smoke outside, if possible, away from your baby, and away from other children, and encourage other members of your family or friends who do smoke, not to smoke in the same room as the baby.Young mother breastfeeding her newborn baby boy at home

Some studies have shown that smoking can potentially alter baby’s sleeping patterns, and there are other studies that are a little bit conflicting regarding baby’s weight gain being affected. So as a rule of thumb, have a good monitor of your baby’s weight at your local baby clinic.

So it goes without saying that there are so many good reasons to give up smoking, both for your own health and for the health of your baby, and those around you. So seek out all the help you can. There are many smoking cessation programs, and lots of other ways to help you with this goal.

So if you do seek help to stop smoking, and you’re using nicotine replacement products like patches, gums, inhalers, tablets, it’s really good to know that less nicotine, will reach your baby through these products. And the same principles apply; breastfeed your baby, use those things straight away, maybe give a couple of hours before feeding again – in the same way you would if you were smoking cigarettes.

So just to reiterate, it’s still important to carry on breastfeeding, and allowing those anti-bodies to continue to fight against those illnesses that are associated with smoking.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022


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