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The Infamous Tale Of Breastfeeding And Smoking

This is one of the most frequently asked questions on our website. Many women wonder if it's okay to smoke while breastfeeding. Throughout pregnancy, smoking is relatively prevalent, with about 10% of all women smoking at some point during their pregnancy. Women with psychiatric illnesses have substantially greater rates. While many women can quit or minimise their smoking during pregnancy, most women restart smoking after giving birth. Smoking recurrence is significantly more likely in women suffering from postpartum depression.

Smoking & Breastfeeding

Nicotine is passed to your baby through your breast milk if you smoke right before nursing. Nicotine has a half-life of roughly an hour and a half, therefore it will be present in your breastmilk for at least three hours after you have smoked. After this period, some nicotine may persist.

Smoking can also lower the amount of vitamin C your baby receives from your breastmilk by inhibiting milk production.

Smoking's impact on lactation

Low milk production: Mills was the first to identify the effects of a mother's smoking while breastfeeding in 1950. Female smokers secrete less milk (about 200–300 ml) than nonsmokers, according to studies.

Dopamine, a prolactin inhibitor hormone, is affected by smoking. This hormone inhibits breastfeeding ability and mammary growth by decreasing prolactin production. Smoking reduces milk volume and fat concentration in the milk, all of which shortens the breastfeeding period.

Can Nicotine Transfer Through The Mom To The Baby

High levels of nicotine and other hazardous compounds found in tobacco, such as cotinine (nicotine metabolite), are passed to the kid through breast milk during breastfeeding. The amount of nicotine in breast milk is determined by the number of cigarettes smoked per day by the mother. The amount of nicotine stored in breast milk is double that which is passed through the placenta during pregnancy.

Nicotine is rapidly absorbed from the mother's respiratory system into the bloodstream, then diffuses into breast milk and blood serum.

Babies Can Absorb Nicotine

After being transmitted from the bloodstream, nicotine is slowly absorbed by breast milk. During breastfeeding, the newborn absorbs nicotine as well as other cigarette byproducts such as ammonia, tar, arsenic, and carbon monoxide. As a result, nicotine is introduced into the infant's circulation.

What we do know is that children whose moms are smokers?

  1. They are more likely to have a variety of health issues, some of which are life-threatening.

Nicotine has several negative effects on newborns' health, including:

  • The risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is higher (SIDS or "crib death")

  • Respiratory allergies are becoming more common.

  • Growth rate being slower.

2. Nicotine-exposed infants are frequently colicky and unhappy. They're also more likely to develop respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases that necessitate hospitalization.

Nicotine addiction in babies manifests as withdrawal symptoms such as sleep difficulties, headaches, and irritability.

Nicotine poisoning symptoms are uncommon and only appear in babies who have been exposed to a lot of smoke. Nicotine poisoning in newborns can cause the following symptoms:

  • Skin color is grey, and stools are loose.

  • Heart rate has increased.

  • Irritability (a baby might twirl and shudder or look as if they are trying to trudge water or seem exhausted but have trouble keeping their eyes shut)

  • Vomiting following a nursing session


The one-stop solution to all the issues is to quit smoking. It is one of the most difficult addictions to break, but millions of people have managed to do so. Because certain molecules in your system (prolactin and endogenous opioids) lessen withdrawal symptoms, quitting while breastfeeding may be easier.

You might also try using a nicotine replacement patch for part of the day and then removing it three to four hours before breastfeeding. If you don't think you'll be able to quit on your own, talk to your doctor about this alternative.

Curtail your smoking habits while you are nursing your little one to limit your baby's exposure to secondhand and thirdhand smoke. Breastfeeding lessens the risk of SIDS, so even if you are unable to quit smoking, gradually stop it, but DO NOT STOP BREASTFEEDING!

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