Of course, it is better for baby if you don’t smoke. However, if you will not or cannot quit smoking, it is still better to breastfeed than to feed baby with formula. Even if you cannot quit, cutting down can help a lot. The effects of nicotine on your milk and your baby decrease significantly if you can keep to less than 15 cigarettes a day. You can also minimize the effect your smoking has on your baby by timing your smoking. It takes 95 minutes for half of the nicotine to leave your body. Try to time feedings so that you feed your baby just before you have your next cigarette and stretch the time between cigarettes as long as possible.
If you are looking for some good reasons to quit, here are some things to consider:
- Smoking can decrease the amount of milk you produce. Heavy smoking can even make it impossible for your body to produce enough milk for your baby.
- Smoking reduces Prolactin levels and inhibits let-down.
- Heavy smokers tend to wean sooner.
- Smoking increases fussiness and colic.
- Some babies can taste or smell tobacco in breast milk and may refuse to feed.
- In some cases heavy smoking has caused vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea in babies.
Be sure never to smoke near your baby. Second hand smoke can cause serious respiratory illnesses in babies and children. It is also linked with increased incidences of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death ) and cancer in later life. In some states smoking in a car where children are present is illegal.
If you are ready to quit, there are plenty of resources available to help. Most quitting aids like nicotine patches and gum are safe to use while nursing. Tobacco is extremely addicting, and quitting is not easy. However, it is most certainly one of the best gifts you can give to your new baby.