Breastfeeding myths uncovered – part 2

Myth: My doctor told me I can’t smoke and breastfeed.

This is false, though this client is not alone in her belief. Debra L. Bogen in “What do mothers think about concurrent breastfeeding and smoking?” says that 80 percent of mothers believed that women should not smoke any cigarettes if they are breastfeeding. Smoking status does impact women’s infant feeding practices said Bogen in 2004, with most smoking mothers not initiating breastfeeding.

In fact, breastfeeding can provide immunities that help your baby fight illness and can even help counteract some of the effects of cigarette smoking on her baby.

It is true that breastfeeding moms should not smoke. No one should smoke; but, if the mother cannot stop or cut down, then it is better to smoke and breastfeed than to smoke and formula feed.

Babies exposed to cigarette smoke have a much higher incidence of pneumonia, asthma, ear infections, bronchitis, sinus infections, eye irritation and croup. Colic is also more prevalent in babies whose mothers or fathers smoke. Other severe risks are also associated, including higher incidents of SIDS and future risk of lung cancer. If the mother continues to smoke, encourage her to not smoke immediately before or during breastfeeding. Smoking immediately after breastfeeding can cut down on the amount of nicotine passing into the breast milk. It is also important to remind the mother to avoid smoking in the same room with the baby. She should smoke outside, away from her baby. It would also be helpful to wear different clothes for smoking, and change them before holding the baby.

Michigan State University Extension offers breastfeeding support through breastfeeding peer counselors.

Other myths that MSU Extension can bust:

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