If you have to choose between smoking and breast feeding your baby, the decision is ideally quite simple – the former is unhealthy for you and the baby, while the latter is a natural and healthy practice. The poison and toxins in the cigarettes will harm both you and the infant.
Even though smokers know the ill-effects of smoking, the habit is hard to kick, which is why many pregnant, lactating and nursing mothers continue to smoke. Perhaps the habit would be much easier to kick if mothers knew exactly how much it harms the baby. Any amount of smoking is really harmful for the baby, though smoking over twenty cigarettes will enhance the risk even more.
The amount of cigarettes smoked is directly proportional to the harm caused to the baby, in layman’s terms; the more you smoke the worse it is for the little one. In some cases, heavy smoking can lead to a reduction of the milk production in the lactating and nursing mother’s body. The feeding baby can have cramps in the abdominal region, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea if the mother is a heavy smoker.
The nicotine levels in a smoker’s body increase and decrease over time, including a smoking mother’s bloodstream and milk. If a nursing mother smokes just before feeding or while she feeds, the risk to the baby increases. This is because the amount of time it takes for nicotine to leave the body is ninety five minutes. Smoking while nursing leads to problems like premature weaning, lesser milk produced in the mother’s body, inhibition of milk ejection and the let down reflex.
The smart thing to do is to quit as soon as you get pregnant or when the baby comes to protect your own health as well as the baby’s. Other harmful effects include overtly fussy babies and colic.
Whether their moms are smoking or not, babies should be protected from passive smoking as well. Second hand smoke causes a lot of health problems in babies which includes breathing problems, stunted growth or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Smokers in general are well aware of the health risks to themselves and others around them including lung, lip, tongue and mouth cancer but don’t stop or make other smokers stop either. A mother who is addicted to smoke should quit immediately. She should still breast feed her baby because the benefits of breast feeding outnumber the damages caused by cigarette smoking. So, even smoking mother can enjoy the pleasures of nursing.