Health Blogs

Smoking while Breastfeeding- What are the risks?

Smoking which breastfeeding is harmful both to the mother and baby but as it appears that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of nicotine exposure.  So if you can’t stop or cut down smoking, then it is better to smoke and breastfeed than to smoke and formula feed. The more cigarettes that a mother smokes, the greater the health risk for the mother and her baby. The amount of nicotine transferred into breast milk is more than double the quantity transferred through the placenta during pregnancy. Smoking affects the breastfeeding baby in the following ways:

Smoking Affects on Breastfeeding

Hazards of Smoking to Breastfed Babies

  • Babies of smoking mothers have higher incidence of pneumonia, asthma, ear infections, bronchitis, sinus infections, eye irritation and croup.
  • Babies of smoking mother have higher incidence of colic’s and crying and behavior problems. Also they have symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
  • Babies of smoking mothers have sleep disturbances in adolescents and adult’s infants of mother who smoke just before nursing have shorter sleep times and altered sleep architecture.
  • Breastfed babies of smoking mothers have greater chance of dying from sudden infant death syndrome(SIDS)

Hazards of Smoking on Breast milk

  • Earlier weaning in smoking mothers breastfed their infants for shorter duration than nonsmoking mothers.
  • Decreases quality of breast milk as the chemicals from smoking decrease the amounts of iodine and vitamins found in breast milk.
  • Interferences with milk let down.
  • Lowers milk production because of lower level of prolactin.
  • Lastly smoking mothers are less motivated to breastfeed their babies

Steps taken to minimize the harmful effects of Smoking while Breastfeeding

  • Stop smoking altogether is ideal.
  • Smoke fewer cigarettes -cut down the number of cigarettes that you smoke.
  • Don’t smoke immediately before or during breastfeeding.
  • Smoke immediately after breastfeeding to cut down the amount of nicotine in breast milk during nursing.
  • Do not smoke in your home. Go outside to smoke. Do not allow others to smoke in your home.

So in nutshell smoking while breastfeeding is harmful both to mother and baby so there is a clear need for effective smoking cessation treatments for breastfeeding women and also awareness about the consequences of smoking.