Smoking and breastfeeding

Smoking reduces the amount of milk you produce, and babies may gain weight more slowly.  

Smoking also increases the risk of SUDI (sudden unexplained death in infancy). 

But breastfeeding is still the best option for your baby, even if you smoke. Here’s how to protect your baby from second-hand smoke. 

  • Always smoke outside. 
  • Make sure other people smoke well away from you and your baby. 
  • Avoid smoking for an hour before you breastfeed. 
  • Smoke stays on your clothes, hair and skin, so when you’re smoking, cover your hair and clothes with something your baby won’t come into contact with 
  • Always wash your hands and brush your teeth after you smoke. 

Medication and breastfeeding

It's important your doctor is aware you’re breastfeeding when they’re prescribing medication for you. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before breastfeeding and taking medication, and about the timing of medications around feeds.  

Lots of mums need to take medication, and most of those medications are considered safe to use while breastfeeding.  

Pretty much all medicines pass from the mother’s bloodstream into her breastmilk. The exceptions are insulin (used in managing diabetes) and heparin (an anti-clotting agent). 

Some medications or herbal remedies can make your baby sleepy, irritable, or give them a sore tummy.  

Recreational drugs and breastfeeding

It might seem obvious, but breastfeeding when you’ve used recreational drugs can harm your baby. Those drugs pass to the baby through your breastmilk and can stay in your baby's system for many hours, causing agitation, sleepiness, breathing problems, and, potentially, brain damage. 

If you've taken a recreational drug, we recommend you don’t breastfeed. 

If you plan to take or have taken recreational drugs, have a plan to have your baby safely fed and cared for by a sober adult. 

The person caring for your baby can use expressed or donated breast milk or formula while drugs are still in your system. Ask your GP, Plunket nurse or midwife when it's safe to breastfeed again.

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