Pregnancy and Weed: What you Need to Know
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Being pregnant and breastfeeding your baby are unique, unforgettable experiences in any mother's life, but let's not deny that they bring about a set of unique challenges! And for when that happens, is using weed a safe option to help you relax, reduce the symptoms of pregnancy, and sleep better?
When nausea, morning sickness, and loss of appetite seem like unsolvable problems, you might be tempted to think of smoking weed or to consume a cannabis edible, especially if you used marijuana before pregnancy.
And with the rise of depression and mood disorders in pregnancy and in postpartum, many mothers naturally consider relief through using marijuana.
But is it safe to use weed during pregnancy? Continue reading to learn more.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), more and more moms resort to weed as a way to navigate the difficulties of child-bearing. After all, many states have legalized it for either medical or recreational use.
How many mothers are using marijuana in pregnancy? Recent data states that in 2017 marijuana use by pregnant moms doubled from 2007 to 2009, so around 12.5% of expectant mothers reported using weed.
There are many reasons why mothers use weed during a pregnancy (and in postpartum). These include morning sickness, nausea, difficulty, sleeping, and anxiety. And many do so because compared to prescriptions for these symptoms, marijuana seems less harmless (and readily available).
Is it safe to use weed in pregnancy? This article will cover what the medical community and research say about using weed during pregnancy.
What You Need to Know About Marijuana and Pregnancy
What does American Academy of Pediatrics say about weed during pregnancy?
The guidelines state that women should refrain from using marijuana (in any form) while pregnant or breastfeeding, no matter if you smoked weed before getting pregnant or not.
Research shows that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can enter the placenta and therefore enter the baby’s blood. THC is what alters a person’s mental state when consuming weed. And research shows that the fetus can have up to a third of the THC concentration the pregnant mom consumes.
And if you’re breastfeeding, THC might also be present in the breast milk for up to 6 days after consumption.
There is still no straightforward response as to the exact effects that THC will cause once in your child's body.
However, the AAP suggests that using cannabis during pregnancy and breastfeeding can negatively affect your baby's healthy and normal neuronal development and interfere with epigenetic.
These issues can include trouble concentrating, difficulties with attention, impulse control, and problem-solving.
When it comes to the child’s motor skills and growth, the research lacks but suggests that it can slow the child’s motor skills in the short-term. There is not enough research to say what it can do in the long-term.
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Of interest, there’s research that shows that using weed while pregnant may increase the risk of your child to abuse substances and experience mental health problems during teenage years and adulthood, studies show.
Babies born to mothers that used weed in pregnancy, have been found to have increased tremors, exaggerated startle reflexes, high-pitched cries, abnormal sleep patterns. These behaviors are similar to opioid withdrawal.
Levan Darjania, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Vertical Wellness, explains that some of the physical and mental health issues associated with marijuana consumption during pregnancy may involve:
- a reduction of brain receptors for dopamine, an essential neurotransmitter for your body involved in motivation, attention, reward, memory, and body movements; its lack thereof may negatively affect one's mood and wellbeing;
- problems related to verbal reasoning;
- heightened risk for depression, anxiety, aggression for young children, and antisocial behavior, depression, delinquency, trouble with processing abstract concepts for teenagers;
- flawed visual memory;
- higher likelihood of drug engagement during adulthood.
What does the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist say about weed use in pregnancy?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists provides even more information on why using marijuana is a dangerous choice during pregnancy and childbirth.
Apart from the upper-mentioned adverse effects that marijuana can have on your child's health, the experts also list several reasons why weed is a hazard for the mother as well.
According to ACOG, the health risks of smoking weed are lasting lung injury and possible wounds resulting from dizziness provoked falls, different injuries resulting from impaired judgment, decreased quantities of oxygen in the body potentially leading to breathing problems.
More information supporting avoiding weed consumption stated that the drug might slightly increase the likelihood of getting nauseous instead of decreasing it.
Apart from pregnancy-related problems, marijuana usage can have harmful effects on your general health. These include fast heart rate, lung conditions such as bronchitis or chronic cough, difficulties with attention and clear thinking, problems with memory, sleep-related troubles, and impaired coordination and balance.
What if the use of cannabis is of absolute necessity?
Dr. Joseph J. Morgan, Professor at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, advises that you look for lab-tested cannabis, with a certification for cannabinoid content released by a reputable third-party lab, consumed as vaporized flower and with the lowest THC concentration possible.
The consumption should be as reduced in frequency as possible.
What are alternatives to marijuana use in pregnancy?
The decision to use weed in pregnancy is entirely up to the mother. I would advise that mothers consult with their care providers before consuming any form of cannabis and, if possible, seek alternatives.
Here’s a list of alternative healing and medicine if you’re experiencing discomforts or mood disorders during pregnancy:
- Acupuncture: an acupuncturist uses this traditional Chinese medicine to directly penetrate the skin with thin needles on key pressure points to relieve pain and discomfort.
- Hypnotherapy: This is the form of holistic healing I offer. Hypnotherapy reaches your subconscious to equip you with internal resources for body, mind, spirit connection, and deep healing.
- Massage: a therapeutic massage can help to reduce anxiety, nervousness, relief muscle, and joint discomforts, and increase the overall feeling of wellness
- Essential oils: the essences of plants and herbs, these potent oils can to increase relaxation, calmness and decrease physical and psychological discomforts
- Therapeutic herbals: working with a naturopathic doctor, you may find medicinal herbals to offer many of the same results to you that can be found in weed, but without the adverse effects.
- Nutrition adjustments (use Sunbasket and $35 Off Plus 4 Free Gifts) and pregnant people and mothers can work with a registered dietitian or holistic nutritionist to make adjustments to a diet that result in benefits to your mental and physical health
- Therapy/Counseling: many pregnant women and mothers find they receive support and guidance from therapists that specialize in postpartum.
- Breathe Work: your breath is incredibly healing. You can learn simple breathing techniques that provide calmness and relaxation.
- Increase endorphins through movement: all it takes is 10 minutes a day to significantly increase your endorphins, which results in you feeling stronger, and with less discomfort.
And as always, be sure to consult with your care provider.
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