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Can I Breastfeed If I Smoke? It's Not Advisable

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Breastfeeding may be a "natural," wonderful thing, but it can be hard to completely rework your life to fit your new role as a nursing mom. Goodbye sleep, goodbye wearing a bra without a breast pad, and goodbye drinking without worrying about how many cocktails you've had in an hour. Breastfeeding is a huge commitment and it can leave a lot of moms questioning if it fits in with their lifestyle. Some may even wonder "can I breastfeed if I smoke?"

Everyone knows that smoking is unhealthy, but everyone also knows that it's an incredibly hard addiction to break. Giving up your sleep because you're breastfeeding is no picnic, but it gets done. You pull yourself out of bed every two hours and you nurse your baby. But telling yourself that you'll give up your cigarettes in the morning because you're breastfeeding? Easier said than done. But do you have to give up the habit?

According to La Leche League International, a lot of moms quit smoking while they are pregnant and find the transition to breastfeeding easier. But for moms who either didn't quit or picked it back up, there are some risks associated with breastfeeding and smoking.

Heavy smoking, which La Leche League International noted as more than 20 to 30 cigarettes per day, can reduce your milk supply and can, in rare instances, cause symptoms in your baby like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. But fewer than 20 cigarettes a day reduces the risks of your baby being exposed to the nicotine in your breast milk.

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If you really can't toss the habit for good, Medela noted that smoking after breastfeeding is the only way to keep baby safe as you take on this habit. By having a cigarette after a nursing session, the site noted that  the tobacco chemicals in your blood and milk will be at their lowest level while you were actually breastfeeding.

Without a doubt, you and your baby will be healthier if you quit smoking But your breastfeeding journey could be easier, too. According to The Bump, smoking can potentially lower your milk supply and has also been connected to early weaning, problems with your milk letdown, and lower levels of prolactin, the hormone responsible for filling your breasts with milk.

So can you breastfeed while you smoke? Yes. The health benefits of breastfeeding are still there and your baby needs them even more if they are going to be around cigarette smoke. But Medela noted that you should be sure to smoke away from your baby so they are not at risk of second-hand smoke and to save your cigarette breaks for after a nursing session so your baby is exposed to the least amount of nicotine in your milk as possible.