What to Know About Marijuana and Pregnancy

What to Know About Marijuana and Pregnancy

The topic of marijuana and pregnancy is a complex one.

Usage is up, messages are mixed, and there you are in the middle, wondering if it will help or harm.

Either way, here’s a stat worth noting: about one in 20 women in the US reported using marijuana while pregnant.

It’s popular, yes.

Safe? Well, that appears to be a little more complicated.

And while we don’t profess to have all the answers, let’s start by having the conversation.

In this article: 📝

  • Marijuana use during pregnancy: yes or no?
  • How does weed affect pregnancy and labor?
  • What are the risks of marijuana use during pregnancy?
  • Can you smoke weed while pregnant?
  • Can you eat edibles while pregnant?
  • Can smoking weed cause a miscarriage?
  • When to stop smoking weed while pregnant
  • What can I take to ease pregnancy symptoms?

Marijuana use during pregnancy: yes or no?

The bottom line (if there can be one here): while the research is relatively new, physicians generally advise against it.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is pretty clear on the matter: “Marijuana and pregnancy don’t mix. If you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, don’t use marijuana.”

But this is where it gets tricky:

Marijuana is advertised as a possible antidote or pregnancy symptoms like nausea.

Walk into a dispensary (if such a thing exists where you live), and you may experience this firsthand.

And even if that weren’t the case, there’d be no real worth in wagging fingers and saying, “don’t use”. That’s not helpful.

Substance use is just far more complicated than that.

But being fully informed and supported to choose alternative tools–that’s something we can get behind.

How does weed affect pregnancy and labor?

First, when we say “weed”, what are we even talking about?

Weed is what you get when you dry a plant called Cannabis sativa.

It’s now legal for medical use in 36 states in the US and for recreational use in 18 states.

As a growing number of places throughout the world start to open up to legal marijuana usage, it’s important that we talk about the impact it has on pregnancy.

Weed products come in all shapes and sizes. One reason for this is that the plant it comes from has a lot going on inside it.

The two key components are:

  • THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol): This is the part that gets you high. It can help with pain and mood—so it’s not hard to see the pull for pregnant women.
  • CBD (Cannabidiol): This part doesn’t actually get you high. On its own, CBD can be used as a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, and anxiety reducer.

Both of these ingredients seem like they may be useful in terms of relieving pregnancy symptoms.

And often, this is exactly the line of advice that you’ll get from some weed dispensaries.

But while marijuana might provide some temporary symptom relief, the cost involved in getting this relief appears to be too great.

There’s a whole lot of evidence to suggest that THC can reach your baby through the placenta and research suggests that using marijuana could lead to lower birth weight.

To make things more complicated, what we call medical marijuana is not necessarily any safer.

We just don’t know enough at this point to be confident that the good outweighs the harm.

What are the risks of marijuana use during pregnancy?

The research is still ongoing, but here are some of the potential risks of using marijuana while pregnant:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling out of it and/or not in control
  • Breathing problems
  • Lung damage from smoke inhalation.

And for your baby, it may lead to:

  • Premature birth
  • Lower birth weight
  • Smaller birth size
  • Higher risk of stillbirth
  • May impact brain development. The jury is out on this one, with conflicting reports—some researchers say yes, it will have an impact; some researchers say no, it won’t.

Can you smoke weed while pregnant?

And what about how you consume marijuana—does that make a difference?

Smoking weed while pregnant is a problem because smoking anything while pregnant is a problem.

Smoking is harmful to your lungs and may increase the amount of carbon monoxide in your blood.

This can decrease the amount of oxygen your baby receives.

Can you eat edibles while pregnant?

So does that mean that you should eat or vape weed instead?

Well, not really.

Sure, you don’t have the risk of harmful smoke with these methods—but there are other risks involved.

Taking edibles may mean you have higher levels of THC in your system, which could have more of an impact on your pregnancy.

THC can also be stored in maternal fat which means that continual exposure can take place even a long time after consumption

Can smoking weed cause a miscarriage?

It’s hard to say (and harder to hear), but miscarriages happen and we’re not always entirely sure why.

According to one research report, there’s no substantial human studies to link marijuana to pregnancy loss.

As for how does paternal marijuana use affect baby, one 2021 study did find that in couples where a male partner used cannabis within a week of conception, there was a higher risk of early miscarriage.

Really, we don’t know for sure.

What we do know is if you have a miscarriage, it’s not your fault. Pregnancy loss is very rarely—if ever—in anyone’s control.

No matter if it happens within the first trimester or much later, pregnancy loss is a really traumatic time.

You don’t just have to go on business as usual. Talk to a counselor or a support group. Reach out to family and friends. Do what you need to do to heal.

When to stop smoking weed while pregnant

Medical experts recommend quitting smoking and marijuana as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.

Experts would even advise stopping as soon as 74 days before TTC (trying to conceiveespecially for male partners.

And research also points to a high probability that THC can pass easily through breast milk.

How this may affect your growing little one is still undetermined.

Some studies reveal no impact on baby’s growth and development, others have found a decrease in infant motor development and growth delay.

Because there’s such limited THC and breastfeeding studies, there’s no strict set of evidence-based guidelines or known safe levels of marijuana use during pregnancy or postpartum.

The general consensus is to avoid it entirely when pregnant, lactating, and still navigating postpartum recovery.

Ultimately, it’s your body, your baby.

But knowing the risks can help you make informed decisions.

If you need help quitting weed—and it only has to be for the time being—talk to your healthcare practitioner. You don’t have to do it alone.

And if you’re looking to stop before you get pregnant, a quick note—it can take up to 30 days for your body to metabolize THC.

What can I take to ease pregnancy symptoms?

Morning sickness is rough and we get the desire to seek natural ways of relieving nausea and vomiting—especially if you’re battling hyperemesis gravidarum.

A 2005 survey found that out of 40 women who had used marijuana to combat morning sickness, 37 (92%) rated it effective.

Still, the overall effects on mama and baby are not well-known.

If you’re looking for some other ways to get on top of your pregnancy symptoms, you don’t have to just battle through it.

Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Medications for nausea and vomiting: Yes, there are some meds that are safe to use, like cyclizine and prochlorperazine. Corticosteroids may also be considered if your hyperemesis gravidarum is severe. Your doctor can take you through all your options.
  • Pain relievers: Fear of taking drugs during pregnancy may sway you away from seeking pain relief but staying in a state of chronic pain can also cause further complications. Acetaminophen is a strong favorite but check with your doctor if there’s any reason you shouldn’t be taking it.
  • Vitamin B6 supplements: Vitamin B6 is known to help improve nausea, promote your baby’s brain development, and keep your blood glucose levels stable. You can also find it in meat, starchy veggies, and non-citrus fruits. Just make sure to check your levels before you reach for supplements.

What home remedy gets rid of early pregnancy symptoms?

For more natural ways to find relief, try:

  • Ginger: This spicy plant can help with nausea and vomiting. Keep a stash of tea handy.
  • Eating small meals often: It’s less overwhelming for your system.
  • Skipping foods that make you feel sick: These tend to be foods that are very spicy, very greasy and/or very sweet.
  • Steering clear of scents that trigger you: If possible.
  • Upping your fluid intake: The ACOG recommends 8 to 12 cups daily.
  • Breathing exercises and meditation: It may be your thing, or it may not be. Do what works for you.
  • Getting out into nature. A simple bit of fresh air is a miracle cure.
  • Light exercise: A walk. A gentle yoga session. As hard as it may feel at the time, it’s usually worth it in the end.

You’ve got this. ❤️


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