The Risks Associated With Smoking Weed While Pregnant
The Risks Associated With Smoking Weed While Pregnant
We probably don’t know how many women really smoke cannabis while they are pregnant. But is there a risk involved with using cannabis during this important period of a child’s life?
Smoking Weed While Pregnant: The Highlights
- Everything women consume during the pregnancy affects the baby, including weed
- Scientists are not certain of the effects of smoking weed during pregnancy because getting a license to experiment on pregnant women is extremely difficult, and for good reason
- Women turn to weed during their pregnancy because it can help them with morning sickness
- Babies whose mothers smoked weed while they were pregnant might be smaller.
- Smoking weed while pregnant might affect the baby’s cognitive function
Understanding The Potential Effects Of Smoking Weed While Pregnant
Before we jump straight into the risk factors of using weed while pregnant, let’s make some pretty important disclaimers. There is no need to be hysterical about the potential effects of smoking weed. Almost everything a woman puts into her body during her term is going to affect the pregnancy.
Whether she likes to drink a glass of wine or constantly craves chocolate, some or a lot of the compounds in these foods or drinks will make it to the baby. Even pharmaceutical medicine will have some sort of effect on her body and effectively, her baby.
Most of the fear that surrounds using cannabis is based on the fact that we don’t really know much about it. For the most part, we don’t know anything about it because it’s very difficult to get licenses to study the effects of cannabis on humans.
With all of that being said, just because we don’t know a lot doesn’t mean cannabis is bad for the pregnant woman or her baby. And it certainly isn’t a reason to be fearful of marijuana or judge those who choose to use it during their pregnancies.
Is it Common For People To Smoke Weed During Pregnancy?
It might be interesting to know that some research suggests that the number of women who use cannabis during pregnancy has increased – at least in California. A study published in 2017 in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared the cannabis toxicology reports of 280,000 women in California in 2002 and 2012.
In ten years, the number of women using cannabis during their first trimester increased from 2.4 percent to 3.9 percent.
It might not sound like a lot, but four percent is quite a lot of pregnant women. It’s not completely unheard of for Californian women to self-medicate with cannabis. Having said that, there are those who we cannot quantify with studies.
For example, there are groups in the USA dedicated to pregnant mothers who want to share cannabis together – such as “Pot Smoking Moms Who Cuss Sometimes”. This group has over 2,600 members who believe there is nothing wrong with using cannabis during pregnancy.
What Are The Potential Benefits Of Smoking Weed While Pregnant?
Above and beyond that, these cannabinoids can help to mitigate other uncomfortable pregnancy effects, such as back pain and abdomen pain. Compounds within cannabis also can help to elevate the mood, which can sometimes get a little bit out of control during pregnancy.
There is also some evidence to suggest that CBD (a cannabinoid inside cannabis) can be a great tool during childbirth itself. In this study, it was found that CBD could lessen the uterine contractions that take place during labor.
Finally, some pregnant women experience difficulty in sleeping for whatever reason. Whether it is difficulty in accommodating the extra weight of a baby or simply the stresses of pregnancy, getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult. Cannabis is also a remedy for insomnia and can assist a person in a relaxed, deep sleep.
Undoing The Myths About Marijuana Use And Pregnancy
Any fear surrounding the use of marijuana during pregnancy comes from propaganda. Don’t forget that for the better part of the last century, the media has done a very good job of convincing people that cannabis is very very bad for you.
As our research continues, we are learning that it isn’t as bad as we originally thought. In fact, there are intoxicants that are much worse for the human body that we culturally accept, such as tobacco and alcohol.
It’s also important to stop treating marijuana differently from how we treat other medicines. When we have a look at some of the ingredients in prescription or over the counter drugs for pain or nausea, it’s not very impressive. As we already talked about, whatever enters a woman’s body during pregnancy might be transmitted to the fetus.
There are many obvious benefits of using cannabis during pregnancy, even if we just consider the value of relaxation for a pregnant woman. It is a natural substance that is digested very easily in the belly, and for the most part, does not have any lingering or awful side effects.
What The Research Says About Smoking Weed While Pregnant
There is a lot of academic literature out there on smoking weed during pregnancy. However, a lot of it is contradictory. When interpreting the information presented, we implore you to use your objective mind and do as much research as possible before making your own personal decision about it.
Babies May Be Born Smaller
A study conducted in 2012 in Brisbane, Australia in the Journal of Pediatric Research found that babies whose mothers smoked cannabis during pregnancy were more likely to be born smaller. On average, those babies were 375g lighter than those whose mothers did not use marijuana while pregnant.
However, it is important to note that in this study, many of the women who used marijuana during pregnancy also used other intoxicants during pregnancy, such as methadone, heroin and other illicit substances.
Could Lead To Reduced Cognitive Function In Baby
As THC and CBD interfere with the endocannabinoid system, there is the possibility that these cannabinoids can affect brain development in fetuses. In this 2011 study conducted by Keimpema et al. researchers observed complications in the development of the nervous system. This may or may not result in nervous system birth defects.
There Is An Increased Risk Of Preterm Birth
Another finding of the 2012 study conducted in Brisbane found the potential for premature birth. It is considered that there is an increased risk of this factor. However, for the same reasons mentioned above, it is difficult to label cannabis as the culprit. Although the researchers considered all of the other variables, there were many subjects in this study who used other intoxicants.
More Research Is Needed
The studies about cannabis use and pregnancy have been very few and far between, and some of the results between studies are contradictory. Furthermore, there are very few studies which assess the lives of the children moving forward after birth.
Dr. Torri Metz at the CU School of Medicine in Colorado is pioneering a first-of-its-kind study. It is the first medical trial that will be dedicated completely to the study of cannabis use in pregnant women. Women will actually be tested and interviewed leading up to their delivery and their babies will be tested afterward.
We are in dire need of more research on this topic. The reason it is so difficult to research these topics is that women are often not honest during face-to-face interviews. Many will shy away from a study like this. The rest of the time, there are many different hoops to jump through just to get the funding and licensing for research such as this.
How Does Marijuana Affect Breastfeeding?
When we consider the chemistry of THC and other cannabinoids, we find that they very much love to bind to fats. And as we know that breast milk is made up largely of fats, it is only safe to assume that some of the THC ingested by the mother is passed through the mammary glands to the baby in breast milk.
However, it is important that the passage of THC into breast milk is not very well studied. We have not made any concrete observations about this particular phenomenon and how it might affect a young baby.
THC Can Pass Into Breast Milk
A study conducted by Perez-Ryes and Wall in 1982 suggests that moderate amounts of ingested THC make it into breast milk and effectively into the body of the baby. The suggestion is that the baby receives about .8% of the THC ingested by the mother. At less than 1%, this doesn’t sound like a huge amount and in fact, it is quite moderate.
No observations have really been made as to the effects this has on the newborn over the long term.
Is It Legal To Use Marijuana During Pregnancy?
So long as you live in a part of the world where cannabis is legal, there is nothing to stop a mother from smoking weed during pregnancy. Much the same way that binge drinking is not recommended to women who are pregnant, it is highly unlikely that doctors will recommend cannabis use.
At the same time, there is no law that prevents a mother from drinking a glass of wine during her pregnancy. If she is in a cannabis-friendly part of the world, there is also no law that will prohibit her from smoking marijuana during her pregnancy.
Research About Using CBD Oil During Pregnancy
For many, CBD is considered a much safer alternative to THC when it comes to using cannabis products during a pregnancy. This is because CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning that it should not affect any of the neurological aspects of the child. However, there is still very little research on the effects of CBD products during pregnancy.
Some studies on rodents have shown that the rodent fetuses developed normally even with CBD exposure. However, other fetuses displayed some abnormalities after THC exposure.
Safest Ways To Use CBD While Pregnant
Overall, if a mother wants to use CBD products while pregnant, some caution should be advised. It is the same with any other herbal medicine that a woman chooses to use during her pregnancy. At the end of the day, herbs are medicinal, and caution should always be advised when consuming medicine during pregnancy.
The safest way to use CBD is, of course, to eat it! Smoking is not advised for expecting mothers, even if it is just cannabis. Plus, cannabinoids are better absorbed by the body when they are digested, which does not occur after smoking.
For expecting mothers, even topical application of CBD is OK. It is highly unlikely that topical application will result in a transmission to the baby, and it can be used safely for targeted relief of pain.
Pregnancy is an extremely sensitive time for a woman. Not only is she concerned about her own well being and comfort, but there is a very delicate fetus in the womb to consider. But in the final analysis, a natural medicine is almost always going to be less harmful than pharmaceutical medicine.
And if a woman is considering taking anti-nausea medication or painkillers from a pharmacy, then why not to consider the healing benefits of cannabis? The decision is always going to rest with the mother, and she should make her choice without any fear of judgment.