January is No Smoking Month. It seems like a good time to talk about smoking and breastfeeding.
Most people are now well aware of the health risks of smoking cigarettes and many pregnant and breastfeeding women are motivated to quit or to cut down. This is clearly the best choice for the health of both mother and baby.
And what if you can’t stop? You should breastfeed!
It’s better to smoke and breastfeed than to smoke and formula feed. Breastfeeding will protect against some of the harmful effects of smoking by providing some immune factors that protect against respiratory illness. If you are smoking and breastfeeding, try to cut down or quit. Smoking can make your baby fussy. Heavy smoking can decrease the amount of milk you make. Here are a few suggestions to help you reduce the risk of smoking on your baby:
Breastfeed first, before smoking, so there will be less nicotine in your milk when nursing. Wait as long as you can between smoking and nursing. It takes 95 minutes for half the nicotine to be eliminated from your body.
Avoid smoking in the same room as your baby or in the car with your baby. It’s better to smoke outside, away from your baby and other children. Don’t let other people smoke near your baby. If possible, wear a jacket while smoking and take it off and wash your hands before holding your baby.
Less smoking in your household will be good for your whole family’s health, not just your baby’s. Stop or cut down if you can, and remember that even if you can’t, breastfeeding still provides significant health benefits for both you and your baby.