As anyone who has gone through it, pregnancy can be a nerve-wracking experience. Of course, for many women, it is a time of joy and excitement, but nearly every expectant mother has noticed that there are backseat doctors in her life: well-meaning friends or strangers who loudly explain what is and is not healthy when it comes to pregnancy.
You might be asking yourself (and your doctor) countless questions about your pregnancy. Is everything developing normally? Is morning sickness supposed to last this long? Will I ever be able to enjoy my favorite late-night snacks again, or will they always give me nausea now?
But one question you might not feel comfortable bringing up at your next prenatal appointment is: Is CBD oil safe during pregnancy?
The good news is that you are not alone. There are plenty of women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant who are wondering about CBD oil. Although we are in desperate need of more research into this natural extract—which is legal in all fifty states—we do have some research we can point to so far to answer some of your questions about CBD while pregnant and nursing.
Benefits of CBD
In general, it is first important to understand why millions of people around the world are already using CBD and medical cannabis for chronic pain, postpartum depression, multiple sclerosis, anxiety and depression, and so on. None of them seem to have suffered from any negative effects.
First, CBD is a doctor-prescribed medical option in certain circumstances, including cases of epilepsy. But there is also evidence that suggests CBD has more benefits and many people take it as an over-the-counter solution for:
Some of these situations may be worsened by pregnancy. Plenty of pregnant women can agree that their pre-baby anxiety is something that is very real, and many notice aches and pains, trouble sleeping, and changes in the skin are common symptoms. For these reasons, you may be more tempted than ever to use CBD oil while pregnant. But does that make it safe?
CBD and Pregnancy
CBD works by interacting with our endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors and proteins in our body. This network is expansive, which is why cannabis products have such a broad spectrum of results, and why every individual might notice different side effects. This means, first and foremost, that CBD will not be the perfect solution for everyone. Some might find CBD as something of a miracle solution, while others might find the improvements are minimal.
Research into CBD, THC, and pregnancy is limited. Although there have been very few studies conducted on the matter, scientists and medical professionals do not recommend using THC while pregnant and fear that it could negatively impact fetal development.
However, CBD and THC are not the same. THC is the ingredient in the cannabis plant and remains in marijuana that is psychoactive and gets you high. CBD, even taken daily or in large doses, will never get you high. For this reason, the risks associated with THC will not apply to CBD.
The studies on cannabis products and pregnancy are so few and far between that, it cannot be conclusively said whether CBD is a “healthy” option for expectant mothers. One study demonstrated that cannabis products led to higher birth weights, contradicting fears that physical development is negatively impacted. But this same study, which focused on THC products, showed that some risks were also involved.
There is some evidence that suggests that inflammation caused by pregnancy can be safely reduced by CBD—but unfortunately, this study was done on rats. Yes, we agree, it is kind of hard to figure out whether CBD during pregnancy impacts say, childhood behavioral development when the study subjects are actually rodents who do not have any of the same development milestones, such as learning to speak or read, that we do.
Hopefully, things are about to change. CBD is legal across the country and is becoming a popular wellness option with substantive research backing it up. In fact, even high-end cosmetic brands of infusing CBD into night creams, and bars are offering menus of CBD-infused cocktails. We can only hope that the increased public interest in CBD will mean there will be more research into its effects on pregnancy, but unfortunately for now, we can simply not come to one objective conclusion on the matter.
If you do choose to use CBD while pregnant, reading labels will be of utmost importance. Some products that label themselves “CBD-rich” or “CBD-infused” contain both THC and CBD, although depending on your location, it should be easy to avoid THC products, as they cannot be legally sold in most states.
CBD and Breastfeeding
So, it cannot be concluded that CBD is healthy or unhealthy when it comes to pregnancy. At least after birth, a mother will be in the clear to start taking CBD oil as they please again, right?
Well, that depends on whether she chooses to nurse her babies over bottle feeding. Just as with pregnancy, most of the research into breastfeeding and cannabis is focused on THC products rather than CBD.
Ultimately, not one single comprehensive, reputable study has been conducted on the effects of CBD while nursing. While it is important to understand that many of the risks associated with THC (such as THC entering your baby’s bloodstream in small amounts) will not apply to CBD, the benefits and risks of CBD and breastfeeding simply cannot be concluded at this time.
Talk to Your Doctor
The best advice we can give you on any aspect of pregnancy and breastfeeding and any risk involved is to talk to your doctor. It might feel embarrassing or shameful to ask about cannabis products while pregnant, even if you are in pain or discomfort. But your visits to your doctor should be safe, judgment-free, and entirely confidential. Your doctor can help guide you on the right track and, if they do not suggest pure CBD as a good option during pregnancy, they can recommend alternative prescription medications for your stress management and pain relief needs and make sure that your developing fetus isn’t harmed.