Nursing & Smoking Don't Mix

While most people know that smoking is dangerous for the unborn child during pregnancy, they may not know how it continues to be dangerous after the birth. Particularly if you plan to nurse, smoking can have very damaging results on the baby you've just given birth to.


Smoking mothers who breastfeed can actually pass on the equivalent of up to 20 cigarettes a day to their new little babies! One study, conducted by Dr. Peter Macklem, the scientific director of the INSPIRAPLEX respiratory health network, discovered this in a recent study. Researchers tested the urine of two-week old infants and found that the levels of cotinine were almost as high in these babies who were fed by smoking moms as the levels in adults who smoke nearly 20 cigarettes a day!

Passing It On

According to this study, mothers don't even need to be heavy smokers in order to negatively influence their child's health through breast milk. Cotinine appears to be very concentrated in breast milk. This study, according to the doctors who conducted the research, should show smokers that they shouldn't continue smoking after they've given birth. Many women, knowing the dangers of smoking while pregnant, will quit only for that duration. They will resume smoking after they've had the baby. These results should encourage women to quit smoking, even after they've had the baby, and to make sure that they don't smoke if they nurse.

Other Issues

Smoking mothers who nurse can hurt their babies in many ways. The smoke that is passed on to the baby can cause increased chest problems, allergies, asthma, respiratory disease, and addiction in the babies. Smoking could create a situation where the child is predetermined to be addicted to cigarettes and to be drawn to smoking. Babies who are exposed to cigarette smoke, either through second hand smoke or nursing, may also have more colds, lung problems and ear infections. Some researchers believe that it may lead to babies who are more prone to colic as well, and that it can also lead to SIDS and chronic depression.

All of these facts point to one result - smoking while breastfeeding is terrible for the baby. Smoking with a baby in the house (second hand smoke) is dangerous as well. This is not to encourage women to forgo breastfeeding and to continue smoking. Rather, women who have kicked the habit during pregnancy should remain as non-smokers, and those who haven't kicked the habit should try to do so as much as possible. Smoking and babies simply don't mix.