Though there is not much known about the use of CBD during pregnancy in humans, more and more women have begun using this component as a complementary supplement or as a pain and symptom relieving aid. Here’s what we know about it!
Known Effects of THC and CBD while Pregnant and Breastfeeding
There is very limited scientific research on CBD’s effects on a growing human fetus and newborn babies, so the full extent of the effects is still unknown.
If you’re considering taking CBD during pregnancy or lactation period, you should talk to your doctor about it; and the same could be said about any medication or significant changes in diet you are considering. The OB-GYN will tell you what they believe is best for you and your child, since every pregnancy is different and carries different risks and particular issues.
Taking CBD while Pregnant
Several women have been using CBD in the past few years for the nausea, pain, mood swings, insomnia and exhaustion that are commonly experienced during pregnancy, and it works well for them.
But when it comes to doctors, some believe it to be safe, while others have their reservations due to the lack of scientific studies in humans. What is currently known is based on anecdotal evidence of those who have ventured to take CBD and the studies that have been conducted in animals.
Nausea during the first trimester is very common, and sometimes it lasts longer. CBD has been shown to alleviate nausea and reduce the likelihood of vomiting because of it.
The antiemetic properties of cannabis are widely recognized, and they are used for different conditions that cause nausea, such as chemotherapy and HIV. Though THC is better known for this property, CBD has recently discovered to have it as well, though it acts in a different way than THC does.
CBD is currently being studied for its therapeutic potential in Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a condition where there is excessive and constant nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, to the point where the sufferer loses weight, is too weak, dehydrated and possibly malnourished, which causes the fetus to have a slower growth and to be too small. It sometimes requires hospitalization and medication.
About 1 in 100 pregnancies are affected by it, though this number is questionable, since the only data available is that of women who go to the hospital, but some decide to stay home while suffering from it. Those who have used CBD have found relief and significant improvement; they gain weight, and the fetus begins growing faster.
Particularly in the last trimester, those who are expecting may have a lot of difficulty sleeping due to pain, hormone changes, frequent need to pee, anxiety, and several other reasons.
CBD is a really good option for insomnia, allowing a better, deeper sleep. It does not have sedative properties like THC does, so it’s not going to knock you out or cause you to lose awareness.
Basically, what CBD does is reduce stress, anxiety and tension throughout the day, leaving the mind ready to rest and contributing to the body’s recovery process.
CBD can help relieve pain and inflammation during pregnancy. When the body accommodates a growing human inside of it, there is a lot of movement of organs and rearranging of bones, which causes pain.
When there is an underlying illness or injury, it can be a significant issue; so appropriate pain management is very important, and less synthetic medication is better. However, many doctors still prescribe opioids during pregnancy, which can be very dangerous.
Lack of sleep is mostly responsible for this. However, the extra work the body is doing is also one of the causes.
CBD can help you sleep better, relax tension in the muscles, and can help you focus and feel more energized during the day.
Hormone changes, anxiety and exhaustion cause mood swings and overall emotional disturbances during pregnancy. CBD can help by relieving anxiety and helping you get a better sleep.
Better managing anxiety and stress during pregnancy can also reduce the chances of developing postpartum depression.
About 15% of new mothers have been reported to suffer from PPD, but the real number could be higher, estimated at 25%. Plus, this number only takes into account live births, but women who suffer from miscarriages or stillbirths also often develop PPD.
This condition affects a mother’s ability to bond with her baby and care for them, and it can lead to a higher risk of psychiatric illnesses later in life.
This is why women seek out CBD, since drugs prescribed for this condition have several detrimental side effects (insomnia, dizziness, diarrhea, weight gain), and take weeks to work, while CBD has no known side effects, apart from the possible biphasic effect, and begins working almost immediately, relieving anxiety, improving focus and lifting the mood.
Through breast milk, babies consume medication and nutrients that the mother has consumed herself. This brings concern about taking CBD during this period, and the effects of it in newborns have not been studied. However, anecdotal evidence has not shown any adverse effects.
Interestingly, it has been discovered that breast milk contains endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-AG), and their levels depend on the mother’s levels. So a low dosage of CBD, particularly in mothers who have extremely low levels of anandamide, could possibly be beneficial, and is unlikely to be harmful.
- A growing fetus already has an endocannabinoid system
- Breast milk naturally contains endocannabinoids
- CBD is being used for young children who suffer from epileptic disorders and no negative side effects have been observed
- An estimated 25% of live births are followed by post partum depression
- About 85% of pregnancies are affected by nausea and vomiting
- About 1 in 100 pregnancies are affected by Hyperemesis Gravidarum
What about THC?
THC is a completely different story. It has been observed to affect brain development in humans who are under 21 years of age, though it is unknown whether this consequence could be more related to alcohol intake of the studied subjects than to THC itself.
However, when it comes to fetuses, it was observed to inhibit the growth of mice embryos in early gestation, as did anandamide.
Since it has been observed that marijuana consumption during early stages of pregnancy may result in low birth weight, it is recommended to avoid it while more studies are conducted. However some women have found it to be perfectly safe, and even beneficial for growth improvement when they are suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
Opioids and Pregnancy
Opioids are still being prescribed to pregnant women and are commonly used during labor, which brings us to question why CBD is so controversial, taking into account that opioids are known to be harmful.
Babies born to mothers who consume opioids on a regular basis have been observed to suffer from severe issues:
- Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Birth defects
- Thinner cerebral cortices
- Reduced cognitive ability
- Physical deficits
- Behavioral deficits
- Long term social, psychological and behavioral abnormalities
Contrary to popular belief, NAS doesn’t just happen to babies born to illegal opioid users; it can also happen when opioids are legally prescribed for pain management and taken exactly how a doctor indicated.
Opioids cause countless side effects to both the mother and the fetus, so prescribing them during pregnancy is extremely risky. Even when the baby has already been born, opioids get into their system through breast milk, and they can cause:
- CNS depression
- Inadequate weight gain
- Mood alterations and impaired brain development
- Death caused by overdose
However, it is important to know that quitting suddenly, without medical supervision and treatment, can also cause detrimental effects to both mother and fetus, and could even cause stillbirth (death in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy).
Opioids cause thousands of deaths every year, while CBD has caused none. This is a situation that, without a doubt, calls the medical community to reevaluate current practices.
CBD vs Opioids During Pregnancy
Taking into account everything that we know so far, CBD is for sure safer during pregnancy than opioids are, and it can provide a more wholesome therapeutic effect.
Though CBD’s safety during pregnancy, labor and lactation has not been established, the fact that doctors still prescribe opioids during these circumstances is questionable. CBD, though not significantly studied, has a lot less side effects than opioids do, for both babies and mothers.
CBD doesn’t cause NAS, which is good news! Sure, it might not produce the strong effect that opioids do, but it is a lot safer and it benefits overall wellness in the long run, unlike opioids.
Opioids cause disorientation, confusion and loss of awareness, which puts both mother and baby at risk due to the higher possibility of tripping, falling asleep, and becoming confused while tending to the infant.
Most parents are exhausted during and after pregnancy; so becoming sleepier isn’t the best idea. However, CBD can reduce tiredness, improve focus and allow deeper sleep when it does take place.
Unfortunately there are currently not enough medical studies, but we do know that CBD does seem a lot safer than prescription opioids for both mother and child. And it has already been extensively used in kids with seizure disorders and has shown no adverse effects, only benefits.