Q&A: Is air travel harmful to an infant? Can I drink and smoke while breastfeeding?
I have to travel internationally every two to three months. Is it safe for my newborn baby to fly with me, can a two-month-old infant handle the air pressure on the plane and a thirteen-hour flight?
I'm also planning to breastfeed my baby. Is it okay to drink one or two glasses of wine every day because I love wine?
Is it okay to smoke one or two cigarettes per day while breastfeeding?
Please advise me, thanks!
Flying with infants is usually fine. A healthy infant can tolerate the cabin environment and a long flight. The biggest concern is the exposure to hundreds of people in a closed cabin, some of whom may be contagious. For this reason, some practitioners recommend waiting until your child is more than six weeks old. A second concern is the discomfort to the ears on the ascent and descent. To minimize this, have your baby suck on the breast or bottle during those times, which equalizes the pressure in the ears the same way a hard swallow does. A third consideraton is the destination. If you are travelling to a developing area, be careful of the water and make sure that all your child’s routine immunizations are up to date.
As for your second question, what is absolutely clear about alcohol and babies is that exposure to large amounts, either before or after birth, is poisonous. The tougher question to answer is yours, is there a ‘safe’ amount that doesn’t effect a baby’s health or development? The studies done on this are inconclusive. The safest answer, then, is to avoid alcohol altogether while breastfeeding. The next most practical advice is to keep the amount of alcoholic beverage small, and to time consumption to right after a breastfeed so that most of it will have been metabolized by the next feeding time.
Your last question is the easiest one to answer. Don’t smoke. Not one cigarette, not twenty. Not ever. Passive cigarette smoke has proven negative effects on a baby’s health, not to mention your own. Having a baby is the absolutely best reason to quit.