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Breast Feeding

Smoking /breastfeeding



What are the risks of smoking while breastfeeding? Does this affect your child?


Smoking does affect breastfeeding. However cigarette smoking is not a contraindication for breastfeeding. So yes, you can smoke and breast feed. Women who smoke cigarettes have a significantly decreased amount of breast milk. Cigarette smoking inhibits the effects of prolactin (a hormone needed for breastfeeding). Research has found that women who smoke cigarettes have a 30-50% lower base level of prolactin during the first 21 days of breastfeeding. Research has also found that women who smoke wean their infants earlier. Also, infants of women who smoke have a higher incidence of colic. Nicotine is present in the breast milk of smoking women as well as the air the infant breaths. The amount of nicotine received by the baby depends on the number of cigarettes smoked, the amount of time between cigarettes and when the cigarette smoking occurs in relationship to a feeding. It is important to note that the infant will consume more nicotine from the air than from the breast milk. If you are smoking, do not smoke in the baby`s presence. If you are going to continue smoking while breast feeding try to smoke following a feeding, rather than right before a feeding. Children of parents who smoke in the home have a greater susceptibility to respiratory problems than children of nonsmokers. Second hand smoke is also related to increased incidence of otitis media (ear infections). If you are planning to breast feed do so. However, try to cut down on the number of cigarette you smoke. There are many smoking cessation programs that you can participate in. If you are in a program that uses the nicotine patch or chewing gum, be sure to discuss this with your infant`s health care provider. (most of them have less nicotine than cigarettes, but you can NOT smoke while using these, because of the amount of nicotine the baby would receive). 

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati