Smoking and Breastfeeding: Lower Milk Production
Smoking has been linked to low milk production in breastfeeding mothers. One study found that milk production was 21% lower for smoking verses non-smoking breastfeeding mothers. It appears that smoking tends to lower levels of prolactin (the milk-making hormone) and inhibit the letdown reflex.
What To Do About It
I’m sure you already know smoking is bad for your health and any secondhand smoke your baby breathes is bad for him or her too. And for those reasons, I want you to quit smoking.
But not right now.
The stress of quitting smoking is going to harm your milk production more than the smoking will. So if you have concerns that your milk production is low, you should focus on fixing that first, not the smoking habit. Once your milk supply is recovered and stable consider cutting back or quitting. See the 11 ways to increase milk supply for more information.
Smoking and Breastfeeding: Slower Weight Gain
Smoking tends to increase the metabolism. This can lead to less calories available to your breastfeeding baby and slower weight gain.
What To Do
During pregnancy, it is recommend to increase your daily calorie consumption by 300 calories. But for breastfeeding, it’s recommend to increase your daily calories by 500 calories. This amount of “extra” food is what your body uses to make breast milk. When you combine smoking and breastfeeding your higher metabolism will burn up some of those calories so they can’t be used for milk production. Be sure you’re getting at least 500 extra calories per day, and if your baby is slow to gain weight, increase to 600 extra calories per day.
Smoking and Breastfeeding: Best Practices
Because you chose breastfeeding, it’s clear you want the best for your baby. Here are the best practices for smoking while breastfeeding:
- Never smoke around your baby and other children. The dangers of second-hand smoke are well-researched and documented.
- Don’t allow anyone else to smoke around your baby and other children.
- Smoke outside.
- Never smoke while breastfeeding.
- Time smoking to limit your baby’s exposure to nicotine in breast milk. Don’t smoke right before breastfeeding. Instead smoke right after breastfeeding.
- Limit the number of cigarettes to 20 or less per day as health risks to the baby increase beyond this amount.
- Nicotine gum and patches does not appear to have a significant impact on the quality of breast milk. Use these products to decrease the amount of smoking.
- Consider quitting smoking and putting the money you save into a college fund for your baby. If could be one of the most amazing gifts you ever give.