Pink quit smoking and limited her alcohol consumption to breastfeed. Is that necessary?

by Amber McCann, IBCLC | May 20, 2012 6:02 am

Pink, a singer/songwriter and the voice behind hits like “Get the Party Started,” “Raise Your Glass,” and “F***in’ Perfect,” has been quoted often in the past 11-months about her breastfeeding relationship with daughter Willow.  She even had comments on  Time Magazine’s recent controversial cover.

This month Pink is on the cover of Cosmopolitan, and she talks about breastfeeding right out of the gate:

I’m used to going into the studio and smoking and drinking until three in the morning.  But I can’t drink as much because I’m breastfeeding. See this glass of wine? Before, I’d have, like, four of them. Now, one is good. Oh, and I quit smoking.

We applaud Pink for making health and lifestyle choices that prioritize her breastfeeding relationship with Willow.  But let’s get to the nitty-gritty of how alcohol use and smoking can impact breastfeeding.

Alcohol

While four glasses of wine might be a bit excessive, what about an occasional serving of your favorite red?  Many moms believe that breastfeeding means a big, red N-O to any alcohol consumption.  On the contrary,  experts agree that occasionally having an alcoholic beverage is not off the table for breastfeeding mothers.  More than 1-2 servings a day can have an impact on your ability to safely breastfeed your baby, so moderation is the key.

Here are some great tips for consuming alcohol carefully as a breastfeeding mother (thanks to Danielle Rigg for first publishing these in her New Year’s Eve 2008 post) :

Smoking

Many women, like Pink, stop smoking in preparation for pregnancy or breastfeeding, and we applaud them for that!  It can be a tough process, but one that is critical to the health of mothers and their families.

For women whose addiction overpowers their efforts to quit, is it better to keep smoking and breastfeed, or keep smoking and formula feed?  One study found that breastfeeding mothers who smoke wean earlier because they think that formula is “safer.”  But is that really the case?

A mother who smokes puts her baby’s health at risk; not breastfeeding compounds the problem by leaving the baby without protection from the problems caused by smoking, as well as other diseases.  In  Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple: A Guide for Helping Mothers, Nancy Mohrbacher (check out how she was involved in our recent Celebrity Event) highlights several studies in which breastfed babies exposed to second hand smoke were protected from the associated increased risks of SIDS, lower respiratory infections, and all infections.  She concludes, “although many smoking mothers consider formula-feeding “safer” than breastfeeding, the opposite is true.”

Regardless of feeding method, the impact of smoking is significant, and it’s important that moms who are unable to quit take steps to minimize their children’s exposure.  There are a number of ways to limit the impact of cigarettes upon breastfed babies, such as reducing the number of cigarettes smoked, smoking after breastfeeding to reduce the baby’s exposure to nicotine, and smoking outside or in a separate room.

The bottom line:

So, Pink, we “Raise our Glass” to you and celebrate the positive example you have set for so many breastfeeding mothers!

Did your use of alcohol or cigarettes have an impact on your decision to breastfeed?

The information provided here is educational in purpose and should not be considered medical advice or replacement for the assessment and/or treatment by your health care provider.

Photo Credit: Kim Erlandsen, NRK P3 via Flickr



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