Is it worse to smoke when pregnant or breastfeeding? How to quit smoking while breastfeeding and what experts say about the risks of smoking to the baby
Smoking while breastfeeding
Breast milk is the most precious nourishment we can provide to our baby in the first months of life. Its composition is perfect and ensures all substances necessary for the baby to grow properly. But we know that the foods we eat, as well as drinks, alcohol, drugs and of course cigarettes can affect the composition of breast milk and can put its development and health at risk. As we can easily imagine, smoking while breastfeeding it is a very bad habit that we should avoid in every way and we should take the opportunity to quit altogether and never start again. Also because the effects of passive smoking and the so-called “third-hand smoke” continue to be evident and risky for the whole family. Nicotine, tar and all the toxic substances present in cigarettes are deposited in fabrics, clothes and contaminate the home environment, even if you smoke outdoors.
In this article
WHO: smoking in breastfeeding
L’World Health Organization strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and recommend continuing breastfeeding for the entire first year and beyond: for this reason, according to experts, breastfeeding smokers represent, with their children, an important patient population at risk.
L’WHO estimated that children of smoking mothers have a 70% increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections compared to children of non-smokers, and the likelihood of sudden infant death (SIDS) also increases.
According to the research conducted in this regard, the principalthe identified effects of nicotine on children They were:
- changes in sleep and wake rhythms;
- reduction of iodine intake;
- histopathological damage to the liver and lungs;
- intracellular oxidative damage;
- reduction of pancreatic ß cells;
- reduced glucose tolerance.
In addition, the children of mothers who smoke during pregnancy may present an increased risk of “non-communicable diseases (NCDs) “, such as obesity, arterial hypertension, alterations in glucose metabolism.
Breastfeeding and smoking Leche League
Leche League experts point out that breastfeeding is healthier for a baby, even when the mother smokes, than infant formula. In any case, they recommend trying to quit using nicotine-based patches if necessary.
Is it worse to smoke when pregnant or breastfeeding?
During pregnancy you have to stop smoking because the risks are well known and proven by science: smoking, in fact, actively influences fetal development. Among the best known risks we find:
- low birth weight;
- increased risk of miscarriage and perinatal death;
- increased risk of placental abruption;
- increased likelihood of premature birth;
- increased risk of fetal malformations.
But you shouldn’t smoke either after childbirth: Several studies have linked secondhand smoke with an increasing risk of cot death syndrome (SIDS). Furthermore, smoking while breastfeeding is directly linked to:
- reduction in breast milk production: new mothers who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day undergo a reduction in milk production and changes in the composition of milk;
- restlessness, nausea, lethargy in children due to the passage of nicotine and other toxic substances through milk;
increased risk of the child suffering from asthma.
We also need to know that the amount of nicotine transferred into breast milk is Double compared to that transmitted through the placenta during pregnancy.
How much can you smoke while breastfeeding?
There is a maximum number of cigarettes allowed in breastfeeding? Experts, as we have seen, advise against smoking while breastfeeding and recommend extending the smoking cessation period from pregnancy until breastfeeding is over.
Of course, the best milk we can supply to our baby is the one that is free of nicotine and toxic substances, however, according to experts, less than 10 per day it should not carry an excessively high risk. In any case, it is essential to wait at least 90 minutes after smoking before breastfeeding.
Stop smoking while breastfeeding
We know how much it is difficult to quit smoking. It is already complicated in “peaceful” periods of one’s life, so in the post-partum phase, with stress, lack of sleep, worries related to the new life as a new mother, the desire to resume smoking as soon as possible or not is understandable. be able to stop altogether.
A nicotine patch it can be useful if you are trying to do without cigarettes. It is possible to contact your midwife or your doctor to be put in contact with experts who promote ad hoc programs to quit smoking.
If we can’t do without cigarettes, let’s remember to:
- do not smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day;
- allow 90 minutes to pass before breastfeeding;
- cover the head, hands and clothes to avoid contacting the child with second and third hand smoke.