Smoking and Breastfeeding - Should You Stop Breastfeeding?

Continuing to breastfeed is generally better than stopping, even if you can't quit smoking. The advantages of breastfeeding usually surpass the risks associated with exposure to cigarette smoke.

Close up of a woman smoking
Close up of a woman smoking

Smoking and Breastfeeding

If you are not going to stop smoking, it does not mean you should stop breastfeeding. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the adverse effects of cigarette smoke.

It is better to be smoking and breastfeeding than to smoke and formula feed. Of course, it would be best to try and quit, but many mothers will find it very hard to make that decision and actually stop.

Breastfeeding protects your baby against repertory problems that can arise from inhaling any secondhand smoke.

Protecting your Baby

Things you can do if you are smoking and breastfeeding to protect your baby

  • Try to smoke away from your baby, as secondhand smoke is even more harmful than the smoke you inhale.
  • You should try to decrease the number of cigarettes you smoke daily. (No more than 10 - 15 cigarettes per day)
  • You can smoke an hour before feeding, as it takes 95 minutes for half of the nicotine to be eliminated from your system.
  • Breastfeeding while smoking should be avoided altogether. Always smoke after feeding and away from your baby.
  • Smoke outside or ventilate your home frequently.
Woman smoking
Woman smoking

The Risks of Smoking and Breastfeeding

  • Smoking while breastfeeding may reduce your breast milk supply.
  • Your baby may experience nausea, vomiting, colic (abdominal cramps), and diarrhea.
  • Smoking and breastfeeding can inhibit milk-let down (flow of milk).
  • Smoking is linked to early weaning.
  • It can lead to Iodine deficiency, which can cause a thyroid infection.
  • Smoking and breastfeeding can create sleep disturbances in a baby.
  • Baby’s ability to absorb certain vitamins and minerals is compromised.

Secondhand Smoke

What are the dangers of smoking while a baby is around?

Bronchitis, Pneumonia, Increased chance of SIDS, Ear infections, Children are more likely to smoke one day, Doubles your child’s risk of lung cancer, Stunted and delayed development, and Sinus infections.


When quitting...

  • Nicotine patches should be used after feedings.
  • Nicotine gums and lozenges should be used after feedings.

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Breastfeed After Smoking?

It's advisable to wait at least 30 minutes after smoking before breastfeeding your baby. Smoking can introduce nicotine into your breast milk, which may lead to health issues for your baby such as respiratory infections, irritability, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you're using nicotine gum, it's recommended to nurse your baby first and then chew the gum afterward to minimize the nicotine content in your breast milk.

~Interesting fact~ Never smoke and use nicotine patches at the same time if you are breastfeeding, as the nicotine patches contain “nicotine" too!

If you need help with addiction treatment, click here.

Risks of Smoking Marijuana and Breastfeeding

Smoking weed while breastfeeding could cause:

  • A marijuana dependency can lead to low milk production.
  • Baby will show signs of sedation, weakness, and lack of appetite.
  • High risk of SIDS “cot death."
  • One of the most significant marijuana risks is damage to brain cells and genetic material.


Concerned Grandmother

"I'm a grandmother to a beautiful grandson who I recently found out that the mother is smoking and breastfeeding.

She lies about smoking when it is apparent that she does. There is not much I can do but pray for the best.

I believe the baby comes first, and everything else is secondary. If you want to smoke because you enjoy it, you should eliminate breastfeeding to protect the child from unknown side effects."

by Tracy

"Understandably, you are worried. It would be better for her to stop smoking altogether. Still, it is recommended to continue breastfeeding, even if you are smoking (that is, if the baby is not showing any discomfort or allergic symptoms). Secondhand smoke is more harmful to a baby who is not breastfed.

The benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh any risk of smoking while breastfeeding."

Smoking is highly addictive, and quitting is not easy. However, quitting is one of the greatest gifts you can give your new baby.