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Smoking and Breastfeeding


  • Smoking is a hard addiction to break. Some mothers may continue to smoke during pregnancy, others may stop during the pregnancy, but resume after their baby is born.
  • Studies show that smoking and second-hand smoke are dangerous to your health as well as the health of your baby. Smoking has been linked with decreased cognitive development in children. It also increases the baby’s risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and life-long respiratory illness.
  • Did you know that smoking and breastfeeding is better for you and your baby than smoking and formula-feeding? Breastmilk contains living cells and antibodies that help fight germs. Breastmilk also has hormones and other essential properties that help with the development of the baby’s digestive system. It provides optimal nutrition for your baby’s brain growth and development. It is species specific.
  • If a mother breastfeeds and smokes, it is recommended to cut back as much as possible. Smoking can decrease milk supply and increase the risk for early weaning. Moms should breastfeed frequently when baby shows feeding cues (pg. 9), not according to schedule. The more you nurse, the more milk you can make (supply for demand).
  • Smoke after breastfeeding, not before, to reduce the amount of nicotine and other tobacco-related chemicals in your bloodstream when you nurse.
  • Smoke away from your baby, preferably outside.
  • Ideally, wear a jacket or shirt over your regular clothing to lower the exposure to toxins left on your clothes after smoking.
  • Wash your hands after smoking and before touching your baby.
  • Never smoke in the car with your baby.
  • A smoker’s expressed breast milk can smell like smoke.
  • If you smoke, you may want to limit your intake of some foods that contain nicotine (Ex. cauliflower, eggplant and green and pureed tomatoes).
  • For your health and the health of your baby, it is best to cut back or stop smoking. If you can’t do this, then continue breastfeeding to invest in your baby’s health.
  • If you want to stop smoking, consult with your medical provider to discuss nicotine patches, gum and other options. Parkwest Medical Center offers smoking cessation classes that are open to the public. Ask our staff for details.