Growing a baby is quite a task, one that comes with a seemingly eternal list of pregnancy symptoms to deal with.
Finding ways to ease the pain and discomfort is a hot topic for many a mama-to-be.
Enter CBD, the mainstream darling that’s defied trending status to become the unshakeable foundation for a wide range of products.
Anti-aging skincare, supplements, edible gummies—even your pooch can get in on the Cannabidiol craze.
But while CBD certainly has a variety of well-evidenced uses when it comes to boosting health and wellbeing, the combo of CBD and pregnancy is more than a little uncertain.
So, is CBD a recommended way to ease sleep and nausea during pregnancy?
Or does baby do best with you far away from the CBD train?
We ask the experts.
What exactly is CBD oil?
Before we dive into CBD oil pregnancy risks, let’s start with the basics.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s basically a chemical compound that comes from cannabis plants.
CBD is typically extracted from the hemp variety (cousin) of cannabis plants, but it can also come from the marijuana variety.
So how does cannabidiol go from plant form to oil form?
That happens with the use of ethanol—a simple alcohol that facilitates the extraction and filtration process.
Depending on how much filtering has taken place, CBD oil will range in color from black/green to a highly concentrated shimmering gold.
While CBD comes from the same species of plant as marijuana, it does not contain the compound that makes you high (That’s THC or, if you’re feeling fancy, tetrahydrocannabinol).
Because CBD has a variety of health benefits—minus the stoned vibe—the world has begun harnessing its powers for several uses.
CBD oil is becoming increasingly popular as a means of dealing with a range of different health issues, from the treatment of childhood epilepsy to helping with insomnia and pain.
What’s more, studies have shown that CBD can seriously help with nausea and vomiting.
And it’s this little health benefit that has mamas-to-be everywhere asking is CBD safe during pregnancy? Does CBD help with nausea while pregnant? And what are the risks of a CBD breastfeeding combo?
(sometimes all in one Google search).
We get it, morning sickness is no joke.
Is CBD oil safe in pregnancy?
A healthy baby and a healthy mama = the top priority for those 9 months of pregnancy and beyond.
And keeping your mind and body at ease is big part of the equation.
Proposed to help with anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain, it’s fair to wonder if CBD can be part of a healthy pregnancy.
But, the reality is the research is scant at best—we don’t really know for sure.
And it’s precisely because of this that many medical experts advise pregnant women to proceed with caution (or, more accurately, avoid it altogether).
Because the jury is still out on whether or not they can safely hang together, the topic of CBD and pregnancy is contentious.
Sure, there’s anecdotal evidence (popularized by advocate Maggie Frank) that using CBD while pregnant can help out with a bunch of symptoms from nausea to anxiety to pain to sleeplessness, but the FDA has other ideas:
FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
While there’s no conclusive research to back up either side of the argument, there’s growing evidence that using CBD while pregnant may do harm.
Some of the reasons for this include:
- Contamination: CBD products can be contaminated with various harmful substances, including THC (the part of marijuana that makes you high), and these can be harmful to your baby. There is evidence to suggest that THC can affect your baby’s brain development and birth weight.
- CBD has the potential to harm anyone: It can increase your risk for liver issues and extreme fatigue. While these effects may not be experienced by everyone, the potential for them does loom.
- CBD and pregnancy is an under-researched subject: The CBD market is in its infancy in the grand scheme of things. We just don’t know enough to rule out the risks to you and your baby. As of yet, the FDA hasn’t approved any CBD products for use throughout pregnancy.
Is CBD oil safe when breastfeeding?
Breast milk naturally contains endocannabinoids—lipid-based neurotransmitters that help your body regulate essential bodily functions.
These natural endocannabinoids stimulate your baby’s appetite and suckling response, but this does not mean the more, the merrier.
Yes, like endocannabinoids, cannabinoids (specifically THC) can also bind to endocannabinoid receptors within the body, but the effects can be quite different.
And since THC can be transmitted to your baby through breastmilk, it places them in risky territory.
For example, one study found that infants exposed to marijuana via breastmilk showed a decrease in motor development.
So where does CBD fit in?
Again, the research is in the early phases, but the same study mentioned above also showed that CBD can be transmitted through breastmilk.
And that can be an issue, particularly when you consider the possibility of contamination.
But with limited data comes a higher need for caution.
There is simply not enough evidence for doctors to recommend the use of CBD while breastfeeding, any more than they can during pregnancy.
Is CBD OK while trying to get pregnant?
THC has been shown to have negative effects on male fertility—specifically when it comes to sperm count.
For example, one study found that chronic marijuana users who smoke 10 or more times per week had a notably lower than average sperm count.
Cannabis has also been frequently linked to low sperm motility and quality.
But the catch is there is limited understanding of how other factors like existing infertility disorders, lifestyle, and frequency of use come into play.
And the conversation around whether or not CBD might actually help or hinder pregnancy is equally ongoing.
So far, all we have to rely on are animal studies that have linked CBD to impaired sexual behavior and a decrease in testis size.
Less than ideal but in no way the final word.
That being said, if you’re already on a long and uncertain TTC journey, it might be best to steer clear of CBD to give you both the best chances for success.
CBD and pregnancy: final thoughts
Being pregnant is tough.
It’s a mixed bag of achy body parts, nausea, insomnia, and anxiety.
So, it’s completely normal (read: understandable) to try and find ways to make the journey a little easier.
The best thing to do is check with your doctor if you need something to deal with all your body is throwing at you.
While using CBD while pregnant may look enticing, we just don’t know enough to conclude that it is completely safe to do so, so we do not recommend going down this root to ail your pain.
That’s not to say you need to continue to struggle alone—pregnancy and motherhood are tough enough.
Talk therapy, yoga, and meditation could be some accessible alternatives for boosting mental health needs a boost.
And don’t underestimate the power of finding your support system on Peanut.
Judgment-free listening and reliable advice are a tap away, mama.
We’ve got you.