Smoking is something that many people use as stress relief, and being a mother can be extremely stressful.
Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances of all and one of the hardest to quit, so if you are a smoker and you are still breastfeeding your baby there are certain precautions you will need to take to keep your milk safe for the baby.
Smoking during pregnancy is extremely harmful to the development of the baby and should be avoided, but is the same true after you had the baby? Can the nicotine of the cigarettes affect the milk that you produce?
Breastfeeding And Smoking
Nicotine is transferred and transmitted into your breast milk if you smoke before feeding. This means that the milk you are feeding your baby will have nicotine within it and is harmful to your child.
The half-life of nicotine is approximately an hour and a half. This means that it will be in your breastmilk for at least three hours after you smoke, and may even remain for some time longer.
Additionally, smoking can lower the amount of milk that you are producing as well as reduce the level of Vitamin C within your milk that your baby needs to grow healthy.
You should wait to have a cigarette until after you have fed your baby, and then wait at least three to four hours after having a cigarette to feed your baby again.
You may have to pump and dump during this time, but doing this is better for the baby than feeding it milk that contains harmful substances like nicotine.
Health Risks Of Nicotine In Infants
Infants whose parents smoke are at a higher risk of developing a wide range of health issues. Some of these can even be life-threatening. These health problems include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Higher risk of SIDS
- Increased risk of respiratory allergies
- Poor growth and development
Babies exposed to nicotine have a higher risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses that require hospital treatment. It also makes them much more irritable and colicky. In addition to the above, the baby may be at risk of:
- Hearing impairment
- Squinting or lazy eye
- Vulnerability to immunodeficiency problems, infections, and allergies
Nicotine is an incredibly toxic substance and babies who are exposed to high levels of it can cause nicotine dependence or even nicotine poison.
The following symptoms are what you should look out for if you suspect an infant has nicotine poisoning:
- Grey skin color
- Loose stools
- Increased heart rate
- Vomiting after feeds
If you stop smoking and your child is protected from any nicotine intake, those symptoms should reverse. Babies should always be protected from nicotine exposure to prevent any of the above health problems from happening.
Smoking And The Risk Of SIDS
SIDS is short for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. If your baby has been exposed to nicotine, whether that is through you or secondhand through another, they can be affected.
Those who smoke significantly put their infant at a greater risk of dying from SIDS. Even if you are not breastfeeding your baby, nicotine exposure still increases the chances.
It is important to attempt to quit smoking before you begin breastfeeding, and even better when or before you are pregnant with your child.
This will help to protect your child from any of the unwanted complications that may arise from nicotine intake and/or exposure.
Quitting smoking is one of the most effective ways to lower the risk of your child dying from SIDS.
It is a well-known fact that quitting smoking is no easy feat. It is one of the hardest substances to quit.
With this being said, millions of people across the globe have been successful in kicking the addiction to the curb, and you could be one of them.
It can be easier to quit smoking while you are actively breastfeeding. This is because there are substances within your system that will help to reduce any withdrawal symptoms.
Additionally, you may be able to find and use a replacement patch. You can wear this for some days and then remove it three to four hours before breastfeeding.
It is important to discuss this with your doctor if you think it will help you quit your nicotine addiction altogether.
The next best option (after quitting smoking) is to reduce the amount that you smoke. This will reduce the intake of nicotine that your baby gets.
You must do everything within your control and power to reduce the amount of nicotine that is getting through to your baby, to prevent any of the health complications associated with nicotine exposure.
In conclusion, the best thing to do for your baby is to quit smoking. This will reduce all the risks of the health problems above and help to ensure that your baby grows healthily and develops as it should.
If you are finding it difficult to quit smoking altogether, the second-best option for your baby is to increase the amount you are smoking. You should also be waiting for at least three to four hours before breastfeeding after having a cigarette.
There are many support groups and online forums that may help you to quit smoking. You should also talk to your doctor to know what options are available to you when it comes to quitting the substance.
Always remember that even second hand nicotine exposure can be very harmful to your baby and any exposure to it at all can increase the risk of health problems including SIDS.
Quitting nicotine can be very hard but it is 100% the best thing to do for your baby and your baby’s health. The healthier you are, the healthier your breastmilk will be and the healthier your baby will be.
You will be able to feed your baby all the vital nutrients it needs to grow up happy and healthy!