Smoking and breastfeeding
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Breastfeeding is still extremely important to do for your baby’s health even if you smoke. Although smoking poses many health risks to you and your baby it is important to try and continue breastfeeding.
Smoking has been seen to lower milk production1.
Smoking increases your baby’s chances of getting SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)2.
Smoking is linked to stopping breastfeeding early, but it is important to try and maintain breastfeeding to give your baby the best start in life1.
To give your baby the best start in life it is best to stop smoking when you find out you are pregnant. However, many mums and dads struggle to quit before their child is born. It is important to try and quit. If it is not possible to quit, then continuing to breastfeed is important to give your baby the best start in life. As breastfeeding has many benefits including supporting your baby’s developing immune system3.
Possible effects of smoking while breastfeeding
The toxins that you inhale during smoking can be passed to your baby through your breast milk. These toxins could cause negative effects to your baby, such as4:
- Changes to sleep patterns
- Liver damage
- Lung damage
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Either parent smoking increases your baby’s chance of SIDS, therefore it is best to quit or smoke outside and away from your baby. It is also extremely important to not share a bed with your baby if you smoke, as this can further increase your baby’s chances of SIDS2. Breastfeeding helps to reduce chances of SIDS5, and so it is important to try and continue to breastfeed if you smoke.
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Nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes and there are multiple products which can give you this nicotine without smoking. Nicotine itself may also affect breastfeeding supply6 but is a much better option than smoking and so nicotine replacement therapy in place of smoking is a good option while breastfeeding7. Some nicotine replacements medications can’t be used while breastfeeding and so speak to your health care professional if considering the use of these7.
The main reason to smoke is as a stress reliver. Therefore, if trying to quit it is best to try and remain relaxed during the breastfeeding time. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, ‘the love hormone’, which increases the bond between you and your baby and helps relaxation8. Therefore, breastfeeding might be useful in helping you to relax and therefore quit smoking.
- Hill, P. and Aldag, J. Research in Nursing and Health. 1996;19:125-132
- Liebrechts-Akkerman, G., Lao, O., Liu, F. et al. Eur J Pediatr 2011;170(1281) doi:10.1007/s00431-011-1433-6
- McClure et al. (2011), Obesity (Siver Spring),19, 2205-13.
- Primo, Cândida Caniçali et al. Revista paulista de pediatria : orgao oficial da Sociedade de Pediatria de Sao Paulo 2013;31(3):392-7.
- Ford, R., et al. Int J Epidemiol 1993;22(5):885-890.
- Amir, L. and Donath, S. Early Human Development. 2012;88(7);467-471
- nhs.uk. (2020). Breastfeeding and smoking. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/breastfeeding-and-smoking/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2020].
- Uvnäs-Moberg K et al. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1990;69:301-6.
Last reviewed: 18th August 2020
Reviewed by Nutricia’s Medical and Scientific Affairs Team
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