Can I smoke if I am breastfeeding?

Q: I am 21 weeks pregnant and sadly still smoking a little bit. I was thinking about breastfeeding but wasn't sure if I could if I am smoking.

A:

Smoking in and of itself is an unhealthy habit.  Particularly, however, when a baby is involved.  Smoking during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, poor fetal growth, low levels of amniotic fluid, preterm delivery and problems with the placenta like placenta previa (an abnormal implantation of the placenta over the cervix) and placental abruption (a premature separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus). 

Smoking after a baby is born, whether breastfeeding or not, is also a major health hazard for your newborn.  We know that babies who are exposed to second hand smoke have a much higher incidence of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).  In addition, we know these infants are also at higher risk of childhood asthma, ear infections, colic and childhood obesity.  This is the best time in your life to quit, not just for yourself but for your baby.  Even if you weren't able to quit during your pregnancy, it's never too late to try.

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