Smoking has negative health effects on pregnant as well as breastfeeding women and is also hazardous to their babies. Although timing your smoke sessions can minimize these side effects when you smoke, it’s best to stop completely if you are pregnant. Nicotine patches and nicotine gum are both effective options for nicotine replacement therapy to help wean someone off of cigarettes.
The problems of smoking while pregnant or breastfeeding
- Nicotine in Breast Milk – When a breast feeding mother smokes, she takes Nicotine into her body. This chemical winds up in her breast milk. So when the baby nurses, it will ingest not only nicotine but other chemicals found in cigarettes. Mother’s who are addicted to nicotine should consider switching to nicotine replacement therapy via a nicotine transdermal system. A 20 mg nicotine patch can deliver the nicotine equivalent of one pack of cigarettes every day. Nicotine gum is also an option for less frequent smokers. For those mothers who are unwilling or unable to quit smoking, try to only smoke after you breast-feed in order to minimize the nicotine levels that wind up in your breast milk and get transmitted to your child through your milk.
- Smaller Supply of Milk – A child may end up without the nutrients it needs if its mother smokes. It’s been shown that breast-feeding women who smoke cigarettes do not produce as much milk when compared to non-smokers. The nutritional quality of mother’s milk is also affected by smoking. The amount of nutrients in the milk will decrease and hinder a lot of its benefits.
- Birth Defects – The babies of pregnant women are at higher risk for birth defects when these women choose to smoke. These birth defects can include brain damage, undeveloped lungs, low birth weight and compromised immune systems that leave the baby vulnerable to many illnesses.
- Miscarriage – Mothers-to-be who choose to smoke have a higher incidence of miscarriage.
- Oxygen Reduction – Mother’s who smoke take in relatively less oxygen. Put differently, a baby gets its oxygen from its mother, so any reduction in the quantity of oxygen available can negatively impact the health of the baby.