Pregnancy is an uncomfortable, emotional time. There are very few truly effective remedies that are known to be very safe for the developing baby. It would be so great if pregnant women could use Marijuana to cope more effectively with the many discomforts they experience.
Marijuana is legal in many places in the United States for medical marijuana usage and recreational purposes as well. So, people have become accustomed to taking advantage of its relaxing and pain-relieving properties.
- Because marijuana is often used to treat nausea, it is logical that it would be helpful in early pregnancy when many people experience morning sickness and feel so sick to their stomach or even vomit multiple times a day. Pregnant people have used it in pregnancy with relief
- Anxiety and mood swings are part and parcel of pregnancy. The relaxing effects of a little marijuana seem like a terrific fix when hormones and stress get the better of us.
Natural Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy, Especially in Pregnancy
Research from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists shows that marijuana is not considered a safe drug in pregnancy despite being a plant that is generally safe.
Unfortunately, many things are natural but are still not healthy, especially in pregnancy. We know tobacco, sushi, caffeine and alcohol are natural but they are all discouraged in pregnancy. Listeria is a natural bacteria that rarely causes any harm to people but can be very dangerous to developing babies-that is why sub sandwiches are discouraged when you are pregnant.
But isn’t Marijuana Safer than a Pharmaceutical?
You might be tempted to believe that marijuana is safer than the pharmaceuticals often used. But there is very little information about prenatal marijuana exposure. Many of the medications used in pregnancy have decades of use and studies showing them to be safe and effective.
The studies that do exist find a correlation between marijuana use and:
- Delayed neurodevelopment in infancy
- Preterm birth
- Attention deficit disorders
- Low birth weight
- Risk of stillbirth
The Latest Research on Marijuana Use in Pregnancy
A meta-analysis published this year regarding Cannabis’ effects on pregnancy showed poorer birth outcomes for infants exposed to pot during pregnancy with worse outcomes associated with heavier use and earlier use. The study also showed higher rates of preterm deliveries (premature birth) and neonatal intensive care unit admission and decreased mean birth weight, 1-minute Apgar score, and head circumference of babies. Remember that head size is directly correlated to brain size. If the baby weighs less because it’s head has not grown properly, we are concerned. Anything that affects brain development and function should be avoided.
The epigenetic effects of marijuana exposure in utero are concerning. The epigenome is the “switch” on our genes. These switches are turned strongly on or off during pregnancy and lactation. Studies suggest that fetal exposure to a part of Marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been correlated with an increase in addictive behaviors in adulthood. These epigenetic changes can persist into future generations.
A recent study showed that women who use marijuana regularly prior to conceiving, will continue to use it regularly throughout their pregnancy. Of these, 56% believed marijuana is safe in pregnancy.
Breastfeeding & Marijuana
Breastfeeding is a little different. Although it is not recommended to ingest marijuana while breastfeeding, a recent study suggests it might not have as big an effect on babies as it does when they are in utero. The amount of THC exposure is significantly less because only a small amount goes into breast milk whereas a fetus receives the same dose as its mother. You would still be wise to expose your baby to as little as possible because more studies are needed to confirm early findings.
When you are growing a baby, everything you consume requires scrutiny. Mothers make the choice to refrain from things that might make them more comfortable or happy like Ibuprofen, alcohol, certain kinds of exercise, french fries, traveling to some areas of the world, and even intercourse sometimes. We begin making sacrifices for the health of our children from conception and for the rest of their lives. SO. Despite the potential helps from Cannabis, it is best to steer clear until there is more definitive information about its safety.