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.
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 are pretty clear on the matter: “If you use marijuana during pregnancy, you may be putting your health and your fetus’s health at risk.”
But this is where it gets tricky:
Marijuana is advertised as a possible antidote for pregnancy symptoms like nausea. Walk into a dispensary (if such a thing exists where you live) and you may experience this first hand.
And even if that weren’t the case, there’d be no real worth in wagging fingers and saying, Just don’t use. That’s not helpful. Substance use is just far more complicated than that.
So, while we don’t profess to have all the answers, let’s start by having the conversation.
What’s the deal with weed and pregnancy?
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, it 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 will 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 and have negative effects on your pregnancy.
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.
The risks of combining cannabis and pregnancy
The research is still ongoing, but here are some of the potential risks of using marijuana while pregnant:
- Feeling out of it and/or not in control
- Breathing problems
- Lung damage from smoke inhalation.
And here are the risks for your baby:
- 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.
And what about how you consume marijuana—does that make a difference?
Can you smoke weed while pregnant?
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.
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.
Can smoking weed cause a miscarriage?
So, miscarriages happen. And we’re not always entirely sure why. Some studies say smoking weed may have an impact, some are uncertain.
If you have a miscarriage, it’s not your fault. (Also, while we’re here, it can be a really traumatic time, so you don’t just have to go on business as usual. Talk to a counselor. Reach out to family and friends. Do what you need to do to heal.)
Marijuana use and pregnancy: Final thoughts
Ultimately, it’s your body, your baby. 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. You do the math and work out what’s best for you.
And then, if you’re looking for some other ways to get on top of your pregnancy symptoms, talk to your doctor. 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. Talk to your doctor about your options.
- Pain relievers. Acetaminophen is a strong favorite. Check in with your doctor to see if there’s any reason you shouldn’t be taking it.
- Vitamin B-6 supplements. They may help with the nausea.
Some other ways to find relief:
- Ginger helps with nausea and vomiting. Keep a stash.
- Eating small meals often can be less overwhelming for your system.
- Skip foods that make you feel sick. These are often foods that are very spicy, very greasy and/or very sweet.
- Steer clear of scents that trigger you (if possible).
- Up your fluid intake.
- Try breathing exercises and meditation. It may be your thing, or it may not be. Do what works for you.
- Get 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.
Good luck. 💜
Read also: CBD and Pregnancy: Is It Safe?