Smoking and Breastfeeding

Updated on December 05, 2007
M.V. asks from Chicago, IL
12 answers

Hi Moms,

I'm having a hard time staying away from cigarettes. I was a smoker until I got pregnant, and then quit cold turkey. It wasn't hard for me then as I had the great motivation of my baby. But now that she is no longer actually inside of me, I find that I have slipped 3 times and she is only 7 weeks old.

I do not want to become a smoker again. I am breastfeeding, and especially do not want to harm my child. But, the addiction is creeping back in, and I need help. I would appreciate any good facts about smoking and breastfeeding to discourage me, and any support system would be great. I'm not even sure what I need, but I do NOT want to go back to this.

Please help!

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answers from Chicago on

I just wanted to say congrats on the birth of your baby and also good for you for reaching out to this site. I think the very act of doing so was an act of love for your baby because I can tell by reading your post that you don't want to be a smoker. You control your destiny on the decisions that you make for your health and without even knowing you I feel like you already know that you have made the decision to resist the tempation to pick up an old habit. I am a former smoker and honestly, if it weren't harmful to my health and those around me I'd still be lighting up. One thing that helps me stay away is telling meself that when I'm 75 I shall start again and I will sip mimosas on my porch and smoke to my heart's desire. Hopefully science will have created a "safe" cigarette by then!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I am not a smoker but I have close family members who are and I did a lot of research when I had my first. If my relatives wanted to come over and visit, I asked that they didn't smoke before they came over because if there is a smell of smoke in their clothes the baby can inhale it and it is still harmful.
That is great that you quit while you were pregnant! Now just try and keep it up!!

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answers from Chicago on

I'm not and never have been a smoker, so while I can sit here and make suggestions I do realize that it is easier said than done. My mom was a smoker for 20 years and just up and quit cold turkey one day. 20 years after she quit, she still died of lung cancer that managed to spread to the bones, the lymph nodes, then everywhere else. It was HORRIBLE to witness her death.

I think it is wonderful that you acknowledge that you have a problem. Many people think that concept is harsh, but I'm sorry...smoking is a problem and an addiction. Fortunately for you, you realize that you need to take care of it. If you can't do it for your own health then do it for the sake of the baby.

You need to make a choice as to what is more important - giving your child the best possible chance to grow up healthy or giving in to your craving and addiction. Even if you chose not to breastfeed your baby and went to formula, you are still potentially poisoning your child by smoking around her. Second-hand smoke is just as dangerous and at least when you smoke, you get a filter - your baby does not.

Right now, you are putting your child at risk for SIDS and disrupted sleep patterns (so important they get their sleep for proper growth and development). There are also studies that indicate that children of parents who smoke potentially have a higher tendency to smoke and use other drugs, particularly marijuana.

There are so many resources out there - American Cancer Society, WebMd, etc. Please find one and get the help you need. Throw away anything related to cigarettes and cigarette smoking (all cigs, lighters, matches, ashtrays, etc.) You will have hard days but you can do it! The next time you light up, think of your beautiful baby's face and ask yourself "Is this really worth it"?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

I totally know what you are going through as my dd is 5 months old and about a month ago I started smoking again after quitting cold turkey when I was pregnant. I am also breatfeeding and as a result of my starting to smoke my daughter stopped sleeping through the night and became aggitated and fussy throughout the day. I went to my peditrician and they told me that she was somewhat adddicted to the nicotine and that I needed to stop now and everything would go back to the way it was. She still isnt sleeping through the night again(she got used to nursing through the night and now wants to every night) but she is not fussy anymore and is back to being the happy baby she used to be. After they told me that I stopped smoking and never looked back knowing that it was still directly harming daughter as it would have in utero made me instantly want to stop. I know its easier said then done but you can do it!!! Good luck!!!

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answers from Chicago on

I don't know if your motivation is strong enough but I will give you some very scary facts. Your baby is WAY more likely to die of SIDS if you keep up this habit. Also, allergies, asthma and a slew more of things are connected with smokers, breastfeeding or not. In fact, the milk atleast has the potential to protect your baby but you are infusing it with poison. Why would you do that?! I am being harsh because you asked for the facts. Smoking is a horrible habit, as you are aware of, and it is absolute poison to your baby, in utero or not. I would say, go to your lactation consultant or find one. Go to your doctor and get support for this. Whatever you have to do to protect the life of your child. Good luck and you CAN do this!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hi, I just quit smoking after smoking for 30 years. It is hard. There is no doubt with that one! When I am having a difficult moment, ( which is what it is, a moment), I literally close my eyes and go through the thoughts of smoking. I take a straw, and I just go through the actions. That seems to get me through it. I also keep a bag of licorice, and gummi bears. Suckers do not work for me, because the whole thing is too intense, and I end up with sores in my mouth. People have suggested carrot sticks and celery sticks, but, that just doesn't fly for me. That doesn't mean it won't work for you. It has been 7 weeks for me, and I just take it day to day. Every morning, I hand my habit over to my higher power, which for me, is GOD, and I promise that for today, I won't smoke. It is difficult, but, if you really want to quit, you can do it!!!



answers from Chicago on


Most importantly, good for you for realizing how important your choices are on your baby. Smoking around an infant and infants of smoking parents have a higher risk of SIDS. SIDS alone is a scary thought...why do anything that would increase the risk? I know of two mothers that have lost their infants to SIDS and it was the most devasting thing I have heard someone go through. Even if your infant is HELD by someone (an aunt, uncle, friend) that smokes, they will breathe in dangerous second hand smoke from their clothes.

Another poster posted a link to a good website that will give you some information on smoking parents and breastfeeding. Check it out and I'd be willing to bet after reading it while holding your precious little one, the urge to smoke will be less and less. Hell print out some of the stats and dangers and tape it to your bathroom mirror, put it in your purse, post it by your desk along with an adorable picture of your baby.

Good LUCK and make sure you have support from your husband, family and friends to help you get over the idea of smoking.

I truly wish you the best.


Some scary links to check out...

Some quotes from the sites:

Being exposed to someone that smokes, even if they just smoke outside the home, is thought to increase a child's chance of having ear infections, allergies, asthma, wheezing, pneumonia and frequent upper respiratory tract infections.

And infants who are exposed to a caregiver that smokes, or a mother that smoked while she was pregnant, are up to 4 times more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Exposure to secondhand smoke has been strongly linked with a higher incidence of asthma, respiratory infections (including pneumonia), and ear infections in children. Children exposed to passive smoke are hospitalized more frequently, and have a higher chance of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).



answers from Chicago on

I am an ex-smoker so I can empathize but I quit when I got pregnant with #1.

My older girl has asthma-- it's awful. Terrifying trips to the ER. We've had a hospitalization. We've had fear that you NEVER want to feel.

Here's motivation-- you smoking will increase her risk of asthma. The second hand smoke stays on you and will affect her.

Here's another motivator. Do you want to be around when she has children? Just don't pick up the cigarettes.

My mother is now suffering from emphysema. Awful thing too.

You CAN do this. You now understand what it is like to live with a love that is greater than your own needs. Don't un-do all that work you've done.

I know how hard it is to quit!

Good luck!!



answers from Augusta on

First, congrats on quitting at all- I always say I know I could never quit so I never started. It is definitely not easy and you should be proud of yourself.

Do you feel like you are smokng because of stress? Sometimes substituting something else can be helpful- like if you crave a cigarette instead chew gum, eat grapes (or something else healthy) or take a walk. I know these sound really lame but sometimes breaking the habit is harder than breaking the addiction.

One thing I do when I am craving a bad snack or meal is I tell myself, well if I wait three hours (or until lunch tomorrow or however long)and I am still craving it then I can have it. Usually by that time I am distracted by something else.

Here is a website that is very dire about the risks of smoking and breastfeeding (scroll down). . Do not let that stop you from breastfeeding. I am a nurse and we tell people working on quitting that you should not smoke WHILE breastfeeding or around your baby, but that smoking while you breastfeed will not harm the baby in a big way. It is better for baby not to smoke at all, of course.

Good luck on your path, it is definitely a struggle but it sounds like you are ready for it.



answers from Chicago on

Sorry to not have the stats available but the biggest thing that sticks out in my mind is the increased risk for SIDS. That's a pretty big motivator especially when your baby is so young. Good for you for giving up smoking (and for BF)! Hang in there because you don't want to have to quit again! Have you tried babywearing (i.e. using a sling or other baby carrier)? If she's ON you you'll certainly not be smoking...not sure when you're going back to work, though.



answers from Chicago on

The bottom line is smoking is HORRIBLE. It will hurt you and your child. If smoking kills you were will your daughter be then? I was a smoker for 17 years. You just need to put those cigarettes down and NEVER look back.



answers from Toledo on

As a sometime smoker, I totally understand what you're going through. I quit when I was pregnant and bf'ing. When I weaned my dd I started again. I only allow myself 3 cigarettes a day and I always smoke outside. There is such a great rist of SIDS if you smoke. If you smoke in the house, you're compromising your little ones breating, put them at a greater risk for allergies and asthma and lower their immune system. If you need to smoke, do it outside and change your clothes when you come back in. Carbon monoxide can stay in your clothes and lead to suffocation. Talk to your OB and see if they have anything that is safe to use while you're bf'ing. In the meantime, hang in there! Also, do you do any sewing or crafts? Taking up a hobby like cross stitch, needlepoint or crocheting will keep your hands busy and your mind occupied. I know it works for me. Good Luck to you!

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