One extremely controversial subject involving cannabis is use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. While cannabis has successfully been used as a treatment for a variety of ailments that occur during pregnancy for centuries, there is a stigma surrounding the practice. Due to its Schedule 1 status in the US, and similar legal standing worldwide, there is limited scientific research on the subject. However, the handful of trials that have been performed have been largely inconclusive.
The main reason women turn to cannabis during pregnancy is to help with morning sickness. Excessive vomiting can be dangerous to both mom and baby, and cannabis is well-known for its effects on nausea and vomiting. Other conditions such as mood irregularity, insomnia, headaches and body pain were also reported to be helped by cannabis use.
At this point, there is not a scientific study that has identified any kind of adverse effect directly linked to cannabis use. There are several problems with the trials that have occurred so far: First, the stigma surrounding cannabis use leads many women not to disclose their cannabis use to their obstetrician for fear of judgment or in some extreme cases, legal action via child protective services. Another issue with the validity of these reports is that many of the women who report using cannabis also smoke cigarettes, which has been definitively proven to harm the fetus and makes it very difficult to make any concrete conclusions. The most common side effect of cannabis consumption while pregnant is low birth weight, predominantly due to premature delivery. However, the risk of this happening is so low that no studies can conclusively determine it is a result of cannabis consumption.
There is no clear answer as to the safety of cannabis use while pregnant and mothers-to-be should weigh all the options before making a decision about their intake. For many women, cannabis use is the safer option over less effective pharmaceuticals or the risk of not treating symptoms at all. There are ways to make safer cannabis choices as well. For example, vaporizing cannabis instead of smoking it is definitely better for the health of mom and baby. Edibles typically aren’t a great option for nausea, but tinctures are fast acting and don’t have any impact on the lungs. Using CBD products for mood regulation and body pain is likely a better choice than THC-based products, as we know that THC does pass through the placenta during gestation. Topicals are also a great option for body pain, as they don’t enter the bloodstream at all. The best course of action is to make an educated decision based on what is right for you and your body, and hopefully the progress in the legal cannabis industry will allow for more in-depth studies on this subject.