Marijuana use during pregnancy is a controversial subject. In August, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams warned against it, stating, “The scary truth is that the actual potential for harm has increased. This ain’t your mother’s marijuana.”
He was referring to the current high potency of cannabis compared to previous decades.
According to the Office of the Surgeon General:
• “Marijuana use during pregnancy can affect the developing fetus."
• “THC can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream."
• “It may disrupt the endocannabinoid system, which is important for a healthy pregnancy and fetal brain development."
• “Studies have shown that marijuana use in pregnancy is associated with adverse outcomes, including lower birth weight."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Marijuana use during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby’s health. The chemicals in marijuana (in particular, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) pass through your system to your baby and can harm your baby’s development. Although more research is needed to better understand how marijuana may affect you and your baby during pregnancy, it is recommended that pregnant women do not use marijuana.”
But what about cannabidiol (CBD)? CBD for sale derived from hemp generally contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is now federally legal. But CBD remains in a gray area.
While THC makes you “high,” CBD doesn’t intoxicate users. People are finding that it can quell anxiety, aid sleep and reduce pain and inflammation. That can benefit pregnant women.
Why are women using CBD while pregnant and/or breastfeeding? For many, the potential benefits outweigh the risks.
CBD and THC interact with the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS). They activate cannabinoid receptors (most notably the CB1 and CB2 receptors), which then work to keep the body in a stable, balanced state of operation, known as homeostasis. The ECS seems to play a role in brain development as well as the development of survival instincts, such as the initiation of suckling. Cannabinoids interact with and alter the ECS.
Is CBD safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding? We don’t fully know yet, since CBD-specific research is still lacking. According to the Merck Manual, “Marijuana does not consistently increase risk of congenital malformations, fetal growth restriction or postnatal neurobehavioral abnormalities. However, women who use marijuana during pregnancy often also use alcohol, cigarettes, or both, which can cause fetal problems.”
A study of marijuana-smoking mothers in Jamaica found “no significant difference in development” of offspring. The World Health Organization has described CBD as “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
With so little information available, then why are women using CBD while pregnant and/or breastfeeding? The bottom line is CBD has many potential benefits that can greatly help soon-to-be mothers deal with certain aspects of pregnancy. For many, the potential benefits outweigh the alleged risks. Morning sickness and general nausea can be reduced in severity and frequency with CBD (and THC) use. CBD (and THC) are known to be natural sleep aids, stress reducers and anti-inflammatory agents. Moms with migraines, cramps and/or acne may also find CBD to be beneficial.
If you choose to use CBD during and/or after pregnancy, start low and go slow. Ingesting 10 mg doses of CBD gummy bears is one way to start. Take detailed notes about how a particular CBD dose affects you. Use a scale of 1-10 to judge pain/inflammation, anxiety/stress, ability to sleep and level of nausea. You should be able to easily find third-party testing that quantifies the amounts of CBD, THC and any other additives that may be in the product.
The bottom line is CBD has many benefits that can greatly help soon-to-be mothers deal with certain aspects of pregnancy. Smoking is not advised for pregnant or breastfeeding women and speaking with your doctor before using any CBD products is highly recommended.