Thanks to emerging research on cannabis, we now know that marijuana can be helpful for symptoms like anxiety, depression, nausea and vomiting. Pregnancy can also cause many of these symptoms, which can be stressful for expecting mothers. But is it safe to use cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding?
What you need to know about the effects of marijuana during pregnancy
What We Know (and Don’t Know) About Using Cannabis While Pregnant
Due to its Schedule 1 status, most research about cannabis is still in its infancy. And studies into the effects of marijuana on pregnancy are even more scarce. Due to this lack of data, popular opinion is divided on whether or not it’s safe.
But here’s what we do know about the effects of using cannabis while pregnant. Right now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly advises against the use of cannabis — both THC and CBD — while pregnant or breastfeeding. In addition, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn’t support marijuana use for women who are pregnant or breast feeding.
For a few decades now, researchers have concluded that THC can cross the placenta and reach the fetus. However, the implications of that are still in the process of being discovered. But researchers do know that it can cause low-birth weight. In fact, smoking anything while pregnant, marijuana or otherwise, causes low-birth weight. And research also suggests an increased risk of pregnancy loss due to cannabis use. It can also affect fertility and sperm count. Meaning, cannabis could make it more difficult to get pregnant in the first place.
Researchers have also found that THC is secreted in breast milk. Not only on the same day of marijuana use, but up to six days after. Can that harm your baby? There is some evidence that THC can have an adverse effect on a baby’s development and executive functioning. That’s enough of a risk to make most health professionals hesitant to say that it’s safe.
What About Using CBD During Pregnancy?
While there is some concering data about THC, there isn’t a whole lot of research out there on the effects of CBD on an unborn fetus. The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in fetal development. And we know that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system by activating CB1 and CB2 receptors. But right now, not enough is known about how CBD affects that system in a pregnant or breastfeeding mother. Researchers are also still unsure how CBD interacts with your hormones.
Most of the concern among gynecologists about using CBD or THC while pregnant is due to this lack of information. Plain and simple, long-term research is still needed. Along with this absence of data, the CBD market is largely unregulated. Production methods vary. That means there is a risk for consumption of harmful chemicals and compounds with CBD.
That’s not to say there aren’t some promising studies out there. This Jamaican study concluded that using cannabis while pregnant didn’t cause adverse effects. Another study from the University of Massachusetts found positive neonatal outcomes in babies born to heavy-cannabis-using mothers.
In the face of conflicting or nonexistent data, it’s tough to say definitively whether or not using cannabis while pregnant is safe. So if you’re still thinking of experimenting with cannabis while pregnant, is there a safe way to go about it?
What Should You Do If You Are Considering Cannabis While Pregnant?
If you’re still thinking of dabbling with CBD, or microdosing weed while pregnant or breastfeeding, there are a few things to know.
- Smoking while pregnant is definitely unsafe. If you wish to inhale, vaping flower from a trusted source would be a better option.
- Choose herb that grown organically. After all, it’s best to avoid chemicals and pesticides while pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Know the cannabinoid content of the cannabis you’re using. Microdosing might be safer than going all in. And if you’re treating symptoms like nausea or anxiety, try CBD ahead of using THC.
- Avoid concentrated cannabis products. Like shatter, oil or dabs.
- Think twice about consuming edibles with unknown cannabis content.
Most importantly, it’s not a good idea to abuse cannabis while pregnant or breast feeding. Because its effects are still unknown, if you’re going to use cannabis, use it sparingly. When you’re expecting, moderation is always a good idea. And if you can, talk with your physician. Be honest and clear about your reasons for cannabis use.