Smoking and Breastfeeding

Cigarettes are just as dangerous for your little one as they are for you. If you're a smoker and a new nursing mom, here's what you need to know:

Cigarettes are just as dangerous for your little one as they are for you. If you’re a smoker and a new nursing mom, here’s what you need to know:

Reduce Your Baby's Risk "Babies born to mothers who smoke are at greater risk for pneumonia, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and acute ear infections," says Carol Anderson, R.N., a lactation consultant at Rose Medical Center in Denver. If you breastfeed, however, you will help protect your baby from these dangers. (Research shows that formula-fed infants have a much higher incidence of these problems then breastfed babies.)

Try Your Best to Stop "I encourage all smoking mother to breastfeed and try to quit. At the very least, moms need to reduce the number of cigarettes as much as possible," Anderson says. "Maternal smoking has been linked to lower milk supply and early weaning."

Ask About The Patch "Smoking cessation products, particularly nicotine patches, are always preferable to smoking," Anderson says. "The patch delivers a lower and less variable level of nicotine than, say, nicotine gum." Keep in mind that if you choose a 21 mg patch you will have significantly more nicotine in your breast milk than if you chose a 7 to14 mg patch.

Hide Your Habit Never light up around your infant, and make your home and car smoke-free environments. "You should also wear a jacket or shirt when smoking and leave it outside to reduce exposing your infant to the residue," Anderson says.

Time It Right "Nicotine levels are highest just after you smoke a cigarette, so it's best to wait an hour and a half to three hours after a smoke to breastfeed," Anderson says. Infants tend to eat very often especially in the first months, so it's smart to have pumped nicotine-free breast milk at the ready.

Don't Co-Sleep A baby should never share a bed with a smoker; it increases her risk of SIDS.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

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