Are you a breastfeeding mother who smokes? Are you concerned about how smoking will affect your breastfeeding infant? You are not alone!
However, if you are concerned about how smoking is affecting your baby, you should consider cessation, because there are many harmful effects of smoking on a baby.
These include secondhand and thirdhand smoke inhalation, nicotine exposure through the breastmilk, and a lack of vitamins in the breastmilk.
Your best option is a nicotine-free cessation product coupled with post-natal vitamin supplements, which I will talk about in detail later in the article.
First, we will talk about the harmful effects of smoking on the infant.
This topic is especially important to me as someone who wants to foster babies, as smoking mothers are a big problem for babies in general and foster children in particular.
Let us now talk about those effects to get a big picture idea of how harmful smoking can be for your baby.
The Ways Smoking Affects Breastfeeding Infants
Secondhand and Thirdhand Smoke
Secondhand smoke is the smoke that a smoker breathes out plus the smoke that comes from the cigarette’s tip.
Breathing in secondhand smoke is also referred to as passive smoking.
Thirdhand smoke is made up of toxins that land on and stay on almost all the surfaces in a home where someone has been smoking, including in clothing and hair, on furniture and flooring, and on walls.
Because these toxins cling to all the surfaces in the area, babies are exposed to the harmful chemicals of cigarettes even after the adults finished smoking.
According to the Raising Children Network, secondhand and thirdhand smoke are especially dangerous for babies because of their smaller airways and immature immune systems (Secondhand Smoke, Passive Smoking and Kids).
Because of their smaller airways, they breathe faster, thus breathing in more of the toxins than an adult would.
Also, their immature immune systems mean babies are more likely to get sick from the harmful toxins in secondhand and thirdhand smoke.
Finally, the Raising Children Network notes that babies are generally closer to the ground and put things in their mouth much more readily than an adult, causing them to ingest or breathe in the dangerous chemicals from thirdhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for a baby, as it can cause serious medical conditions that will be lifelong or even lead to premature death.
If a baby breathes in secondhand smoke, they are more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome because it compromises their breathing and heart rate, as well as reducing the infant’s chances of auto-resuscitating, says Drugs.com.
Other serious illnesses they are at risk at if a mother smokes around her baby include:
- Childhood cancers, including leukemia
- Coughs and respiratory infections
- Ear infections
Exposure to secondhand smoke in the home can cause learning difficulties and behavior problems later in life, found researchers from inserm in collaboration with pierre and marie curie university.
They analyzed data about 5,221 children in France using a standardized questionnaire completed by the parents.
According to the study, the findings seem to confirm the observations found in animals, which showed that the nicotine in cigarette smoke has a neurotoxic effect on the brain.
Altogether, babies who are exposed to secondhand and thirdhand smoke need to go to the doctor more often, says the Raising Children Network.
AS well as this, their chances of becoming a smoker themselves double just by being exposed to smokers in their family.
Nicotine in the Milk
Cigarette smoking reduces the volume of breastmilk, according to Drugs.com.
They found that in mothers who were on nicotine patches that reduced from 21 milligrams to 14 mg to 7 mg over a period of several weeks, the yield of breastmilk produced was 17% lower than the average mother’s production.
Nicotine exposure can also lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
If your infant is showing signs of nicotine exposure, it’s definitely time to cut back or quit smoking and bring the baby to the pediatrician for a check-up.
Vitamins are important for protecting the growing infant’s body from various diseases.
When a mother smokes, she depletes her body of essential vitamins and that depletion carries over to her breastmilk. One example is vitamin C.
According to Philippa Pearson of Breastfeeding Support, smoking while breastfeeding decreases the amount of vitamin C in the milk (Vitamin C and Breastfeeding).
Further, smoking can cause an infant extra oxidative stress, so the loss of vitamin C may cause more peroxidation, an unwanted effect stimulated in the body by certain infections and toxins.
Thus, the depletion of vitamin C in a mother’s breastmilk can cause serious problems for an infant’s health.
Other vitamins that are depleted in the mother’s breastmilk are vitamins A, B6, B12, and E.
The lack of these vitamins can cause serious harm to an infant’s developing brain and body.
Solutions for a Smoking and Breastfeeding Mother
While some would suggest that a smoking mother use nicotine patches to quit smoking and thus better her health and that of the baby, nicotine patches still have a large dose of nicotine in them, which can have harmful effects for the infant.
Thus, some products that do not have nicotine in them for cessation and vitamin supplementation.
Nicotine patches, gums, and pills do not give you the feeling of smoking and thus often do not work, leaving smokers to return to cigarettes for their habitual needs.
With Filtrim, the story is different. The Filtrim device helps you quit without changing the flavor or draw of your favorite cigarettes.
This is a procession metal device that punches virtually invisible holes in your cigarette, cutting down on the number of toxins you inhale and release into the air.
The Filtrim device is intended to be used in a four-step process over eight weeks.
By the eighth week, you should be inhaling 99% less toxins and 98% less nicotine.
The decrease in toxins and nicotine will have a huge effect on your infant’s health through your breastmilk, as there will be more breastmilk available and there will be more vitamins and less nicotine and toxins to expose your infant to.
Homeopathic medicines can also help you quit smoking.
One such medicine is Vicebreaker, a pill that is said to reduce anxiety and tension, which can in turn then increase calmness of nerves and reduce cravings.
Vicebreaker also acts as a nicotine-receptor barrier, making it easier to decrease and eventually stop smoking cigarettes altogether.
It can also reduce symptoms of withdrawal and acts as a tonic for the brain. It is intended for a one- to two-month cessation program, over which time you gradually reduce the number and frequency of cigarette smoking.
Vitamin supplements are essential while you work on quitting smoking, since your body and breastmilk will still be deficient in many vitamins needed for a healthy baby.
Mother’s Select has created these easy-to-swallow vegetable capsules that have the essential vitamins for a mother after she gives birth.
Especially notable is that in the case of most of the vitamins and supplements, Mother’s Select beat out Women’s One-a-Day.
These vitamins are vegan, so they are good for any mother who wants to take them, and their natural ingredients mean there are no side effects to worry about.
The most important thing to remember if you are a smoking and breastfeeding mother is that you are harming your baby’s brain and body every time you light up.
Quitting is really the only way you can fix this slow deterioration of your baby.
These will help you quit smoking over a two-month period, reducing your nicotine intake drastically over that time and stopping it altogether after that.
The first step, though, is to want to quit. These products will not help if you do not want to quit, as your brain cannot be tricked into stopping a habit it wants to continue.
However, after reading this article, I hope that you want to quit and will try one of the products recommended rather than nicotine patches, gums, or pills.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.
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