There is nothing you will get out of that drag but an unhealthy addiction. Smoking during pregnancy is more like carrying a bag of health risks while carrying your baby—smoking while breastfeeding is similar, only that you are harming your baby directly.
Cigarette smoke contains many chemical substances that affect not only your lungs but other organs of the body. During pregnancy, they travel through your bloodstream across the placenta to your baby. If you still continue to smoke after your baby is born, they pass through your milk ducts and reach the baby through breast milk—to be precise the liquid gold becomes the slow liquid poison for your little one.
Around 10% of women smoke when pregnant. Even if they stopped smoking during pregnancy, they get back into the habit soon after their baby is born—the percentage of such women is even higher.
How Smoking Affects Breast Milk?
Studies show that smoking impacts the quality as well as the quantity of breast milk. Women who smoke have higher levels of nicotine in their breast milk than in their blood1—this implies that you are actually causing more harm to your child if you continue smoking after your pregnancy.
Since the volume of breast milk decreases, the breastfeeding duration also reduces, which means your baby won’t get proper nourishment
How Smoking Impacts Your Baby’s Health?
While you smoke and breastfeed, your baby will receive all the harmful chemicals in your milk. The risks are plenty and endless. The chemicals in the cigarette can damage the cells of the liver and lungs.2 Babies exposed to cigarette smoke are more likely to develop bronchitis, sinus infections, eye and eye infections, asthma, and pneumonia.3
Even if you smoke in a separate room with walls separating you from your baby, the passive smoke that spreads in the home air is eventually inhaled by your child, causing colic—it is characterized by severe pain in the abdomen caused by an obstruction in the intestines.
Smoke that settles on your clothing leaves a chemical residue on the surfaces, which reacts with the indoor pollutants forming a toxic mixture. Termed as third-hand smoke, it is a health hazard that can even cause cancer, especially for non-smokers—here your baby.
Studies have shown that children whose parents smoke are likely to become smokers themselves.
For the least, smoking while breastfeeding can also alter your baby’s sleeping patterns and make them fussier.
How To Minimize The Risk To Your Baby?
The only way to cut the risks is to quit smoking. If you aren’t able to do so right away, reduce it. If you find any difference using a nicotine chewing gum, continue it until you stop smoking.
Don’t smoke before or during breastfeeding, you will only make it hazardous for your baby. Keep a long gap between breastfeeding and smoking. Don’t smoke in the same room with your baby, distance yourself from them, go out and smoke.
If you can’t leave this unhealthy habit of smoking, switch to formula feeds, remembering that your baby won’t be benefiting from your breast milk anymore.
|↑1||Napierala, Marta, Jan Mazela, T. Allen Merritt, and Ewa Florek. “Tobacco smoking and breastfeeding: Effect on the lactation process, breast milk composition and infant development. A critical review.” Environmental research 151 (2016): 321-338.|
|↑2, ↑3||Primo, Cândida Caniçali, Priscilla Bôa F. Ruela, Léia Damasceno de A. Brotto, Telma Ribeiro Garcia, and Eliane de Fátima Lima. “Effects of maternal nicotine on breastfeeding infants.” Revista Paulista de Pediatria 31, no. 3 (2013): 392-397.|