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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Nicotine and Breastfeeding

Nicotine and BreastfeedingI’m going to assume that if you’re reading this it is because a baby you love is being breastfed by a mother addicted to nicotine. Nicotine addiction isn’t something to be written off lightly. It is a serious flaw in our society and it is a very hard addiction to shake. Though nicotine and breastfeeding should not go hand in hand, we do not live in a perfect world. In this article I want to give you some support for deciding to breastfeed your baby despite your addiction. I would also like to offer encouragement for quitting.

Nicotine and Breastfeeding – Support and Encouragement

I have recently made the journey from smoker to non-smoker. It was not easy. I had tried quitting several times before. I quit once for three months when my oldest was a newborn, but once I was comfortable going back to work and being around smokers I quickly picked up the habit again. I went back to a pack a day and I stayed that way until last November. I fumbled for a few months around the idea. Two days, ten days, four days… It really was a cycle of “I want to, but I don’t.” Smoking was the only thing I had left of the old me. It was my moment to just step away and take a time out. Parts of me didn’t want to give that up.

In January I finally snuffed out the habit for good. I slipped up once or twice, but I managed to stick with it – and so far, so good!

Creating a Safer Environment

Should you be fighting the urge to use nicotine while breastfeeding, there are a few things you should know. First, realize that a mom who can’t stop smoking should still breastfeed. Breastfeeding is so good for your baby that it can help to counteract the effects of cigarette smoking. Though quitting is the best course of action, the following tips can ensure a safer environment for the breastfed baby of a nicotine addict.

  1. Designate smoking areas away from baby-friendly zones. You should never smoke around your baby or while simultaneously breastfeeding. You want to minimize the contact your baby has to cigarettes, so try and have a safe space far away to get your fix.
  2. Have a smoking shirt or jacket. Thirdhand smoke is a very real thing. Thirdhand smoke clings to hair, skin, clothes, furniture, vehicles upholstery, and other surfaces even long after smoking has stopped. Find an old tee shirt to put on or a jacket to wear while you smoke. If you have long hair pull it back or consider having a smoking hat to cover it up. And always ALWAYS wash your hands after a smoke break.
  3. Smoke after feedings. You minimize the chances of your infant getting high doses of nicotine by smoking directly after a feeding. This gives your body time to break down the harmful chemicals and process them before they are introduced to your child.

Women who are addicted to nicotine and breastfeeding often struggle with low supply, early weaning, and earlier signs of being “touched out.” Nicotine affects your overall health and your mood towards other members of your family. While you’re breastfeeding your baby it is recommended to seek help and quit at a pace that is right for you. Remember: smoking or not, breastfeeding your baby is better than not breastfeeding your baby.

Have you been wondering about nicotine and breastfeeding – should you stop while you kick the habit?

Shary Lopez is a late-twenties, nerdy gal living in Tampa Bay. Her family consists of a bearded husband and two children: one eight-year-old daughter and one very adventurous toddler boy. As a childbirth junkie and breastfeeding advocate, Shary tries to lean her family towards natural living while still grasping onto convenience and frugality. You can find more of her writings on Shary's personal blog, Atta Mama. Shary is also on social networking sites such as FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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