Breastfeeding and Smoking Cigarettes

Tobacco, Nicotine and Second Hand Smoke

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Smoking and Breastfeeding

It is not recommended to smoke when you're breastfeeding; however, if you do smoke you can still breastfeed. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the negatives of smoking, and studies show that the child of someone who smokes will be healthier if breastfed. This does not mean that there won't be other issues.

Cigarettes are made up of tobacco and many dangerous substances.

Tobacco contains nicotine, a potent and highly addictive chemical that can affect you and your baby. Nicotine does passes through breast milk and can cause symptoms of restlessness, sleep difficulties, feeding problems, and the jitters in your baby. Smoking can also have a negative effect on breastfeeding in other ways. It can cause:

Try to Quit Smoking

Smoking can cause health problems for your child, but it can also cause health problems for you. You are the most important person in your child's life and your baby needs you. Smoking can lead to life threatening illness such as cancer, COPD and heart disease, which can take you away from your child. If you smoke, try to quit. If you don't think you can stop smoking on your own, there is help.

  • Contact your local health department for information on smoking cessation programs and support groups.

If you cannot stop smoking, talk to your doctor.

You should still be able to breastfeed.

Tips For Breastfeeding If You Smoke

  • Don't smoke around your baby, in your house or in your car. Smoke lingers in the air and on the fabrics where smokers have been. Even if you don't smoke around your baby, if you smoke in the areas where your baby spends time playing and sleeping, your child will still be exposed to the smoke.
  • Try to limit the amount of cigarettes you smoke each day.
  • Smoke after you feed your baby, not before. Nicotine levels in your breast milk will be less if you wait at least 2 hours after your last cigarette to feed your baby.
  • Do not smoke while you are holding or nursing your child. Not only is it dangerous for the baby to inhale the second hand smoke, but you may accidentally burn your child if the hot ashes from your cigarette fall onto your baby.
  • Keep your baby away from other people who are smoking.

Warnings and Side Effects of Smoking

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: SIDS occurs more often to infants who are exposed to second hand smoke.

Other Dangers of Second Hand Smoke: If your baby breathes in smoke from being around you or others who are smoking, she will be at a greater risk for developing asthma, bronchitis and ear infections.

Debilitating Diseases: The use of tobacco products is associated with chronic illness and death from serious health problems such as lung cancer, other cancers, stroke, emphysema and cardiac problems.

Droopy Skin: After breastfeeding has ended and you wean your baby, you are more likely to end up with saggy breasts if you smoke. Smoking causes the skin to lose it's elasticity and look wrinkled and droopy.

Withdrawal Symptoms: If you do quit smoking, you may experience symptoms of nicotine withdrawal including headache, anxiety, depression, nervousness, restlessness, trouble sleeping, and weight gain.


American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

American Academy of Pediatrics. Your Baby's First Year Third Edition. Bantam Books. New York. 2010.

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking - Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses United States --- 2000-2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. November 14, 2008; 57(45): 1226-28. Accessed May 18, 2013:

Just, M., et al. Effects of Smoking on Skin Elastic Fibres: Morphometric and Immunohistochemical analysis. Br. J. Dermatol. 2007; 156: 85-91.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Sixth Edition.  Mosby. Philadelphia. 2005.

Rinker, B., Veneracion, M.,Walsh, CP. Breast Ptosis: Causes and Cure. Annuals of Plastic Surgery: 2010 May;64(5):579-84

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