Marijuana use during pregnancy can harm your baby. Marijuana contains chemicals that pass through your system to the fetus, and this damages fetal development.
Though more research is needed to better understand how marijuana may affect pregnant women and their babies, it’s recommended that pregnant women abstain from using marijuana.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggests avoiding all usage of marijuana while pregnant or nursing.
Ingesting marijuana edibles or cannabis oil is no safer for your baby than smoking weed. The chemicals in weed – including THC (the ingredient that makes you high) – pass from you into your unborn baby’s system through the placenta when you’re pregnant and into your nursing baby via your breast milk, just as they do when you smoke.
Edible marijuana products (such as cookies, brownies, and candy) often have much higher amounts of THC than smoking. Synthetic marijuana can be a much riskier option than natural weed just because it is synthetic. But, even though marijuana may be less risky than other drugs because it’s natural, any type of drug still poses a risk to your health.
Products labelled with an ASTM F963 or CPSC sticker are generally considered safe for babies, and will not harm their development.
There are legal risks as well. In 23 states, using drugs during pregnancy is considered child abuse and could result in losing custody of your children. Several states require pregnant women who use drugs to go through mandatory drug treatment programs. Three states are threatening to charge employers who provide insurance coverage for abortion. To identify the state in which you live, please check the Guttmacher Institute’s summary of current laws on coverage for abortion services.
Why pregnant women use weed?
According to a recent study, more than half of pregnant women who use marijuana are already doing so to treat morning sickness. Nearly ninety-two percent said that it does in fact help relieve their symptoms.While your doctor or midwife is highly unlikely to prescribe cannabis for this purpose—the SOGC strongly discourages any use during pregnancy—the budtender at your local dispensary might. In a recent survey of dispensaries in Colorado, 69% recommended using cannabis to treat morning sickness and 36% said it was safe during pregnancy despite evidence to the contrary.
Women may also use cannabis to relieve other common pregnancy symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, lack of appetite and aches and pains. Women with medical conditions like fibromyalgia, depression and anorexia may turn to cannabis during early pregnancy in fear of symptoms returning. Though there are still many side effects that have not been studied, it is often the only route for relief from pain or other discomforts.
Recreational drug users often do not realize that their habit can be harmful. A study in 2015 found that 70% of pregnant women who regularly use marijuana believe there is a very low or no risk to using it once per week.
Women really want to think that it’s safe to use,
Cooks says. But some research suggests they’re wrong.
Are edibles and vaping safer during pregnancy?
Many women try to mitigate harm by changing how they use weed and cutting back on how much they consume. Pollock, for instance, smoked less than she did before she was pregnant—one joint would last her a few days—and tried a vape but went back to smoking because it didn’t have the same effect. Vaping reduces exposure to the byproducts of combustion and the carcinogens in marijuana smoke but, like with smoking, the THC still transfers almost immediately into the bloodstream. Edibles, tinctures and lotions don’t have the harmful effects of smoking, and they lead to lower levels of THC in the mother’s blood. Still, no method of delivery—vaping, smoking or ingesting—has been proven to be safe. “No matter what way it’s ingested, the active ingredients in cannabis are still getting into mom’s bloodstream and still being passed on to the fetus,” Cook says.
Studies have shown that the more cannabis a woman consumes, the greater the risk to her baby, but “we don’t know how much is absolutely safe and we don’t know how much is absolutely harmful,” Cook says, adding that we probably never will, since four decades of research into alcohol use during pregnancy have yet to determine a safe limit. Pot is also getting more potent. The study of more than 38,000 samples discovered that the THC levels tripled in two decades; they were four percent in 1995 and twelve percent in 2014.
Legal in 33 states and the District, marijuana is now being made available to consumers with a variety of different forms. The popularity of edibles has raised some questions about whether pregnant women should eat them or not.
Research shows that more pregnant women are using marijuana in some form, according to Lean Plate Club™ blogger Sally Squires.
The recreational drug that is most often used during pregnancy is marijuana. Between 2009 and 2016, the number of pregnant women using marijuana increased from 2% to 4%.
Edibles are a popular consumption method because there’s no smoke and they’re more discrete. There are some pervasive beliefs that make edibles attractive: first, many people believe them to be healthier than smoking marijuana.
Second, the effects of edible marijuana take longer to surface with less intensity and don’t linger around long after; this
There’s a [misconception] that marijuana is a safe drug. All drugs, even aspirin, all drugs have potential side effects,
Squires told WTOP.
There is little research on whether ingesting marijuana can affect babies. Marijuana’s active ingredient, THC, is stored in fat cells and a baby’s brain has many fat cells so it’s possible that they are retaining THC for an unknown amount of time according to the Colorado Department of Health
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the use of marijuana during pregnancy and breastfeeding, no matter if the drug is generally considered safe.
The AAP report says that use of marijuana while pregnant can lead to decreased body weight for the baby, risk premature birth and cause certain congenital defects.
If you are pregnant, or lactating, or want to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about what the effect is. I think there’s no judgement here,
Squires also reminds parents who are marijuana users to keep their marijuana out of sight and out of reach of children.
How to stop using weed and weed edibles during pregnancy?
Cook insists pregnant women considering cannabis use should speak to their healthcare providers about other alternatives with a proven safe track record. Women who take the drug for a medical reason may want to explore other treatment options. Cognitive behavioural therapy and antidepressants can be used for anxiety or depression, respectively. Those with morning sickness can consult their physician about taking vitamin B6, an antihistamine, or an anti-nausea medication such as Gravol.
Women who decide to stop using marijuana may have to wait many weeks for the drug to leave their system. THC and other cannabinoids are stored in fat and released slowly into systemic circulation, so it can take up to 30 days for these substances to clear an individual’s blood stream of a heavy user.
While existing research on marijuana use during pregnancy remains limited and inconclusive, there is good news. Recently the federal government approved $1.4 million of funding for marijuana research, with a priority area being exploring its effects during pregnancy.
Women deserve to know the evidence,
It’s not enough to say, ‘Don’t do it.’
Potentially, women one day could pop a pill to prevent morning sickness. But for now, it’s safest not to use marijuana during pregnancy.
Possible side effects
Low birth weight
A meta-analysis of 24 studies showed that marijuana use by pregnant women can lead to a negative birth outcome like a low birth weight.
Birth weight typically decreases among babies with low oxygen levels, trouble maintaining a body temperature, and respiratory problems.
However, not all of the studies in the analysis showed marijuana to be a significant factor for low birth weight.
The researchers also found that babies born to women who had used marijuana during pregnancy were more likely to require a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, compared with those who had not been exposed to the drug.
A 2017 study Trusted Source of pregnant mothers who smoked cigarettes and marijuana noted an association with lower birth weight.
A 2013 study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) considered women who experienced stillbirth at 59 American hospitals.
The researchers tested samples from the women and their umbilical cords. They found that marijuana use was associated with a 2.3 times higher risk of stillbirth in newborns.
The researchers noted that it was difficult to tease out the effects of each substance. However, they did point out that drugs use may lead to pregnancy complications.