Is CBD Safe During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding? What We Know So Far

Is CBD Safe During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding? What We Know So Far

The Healing Consultant - Pregnant Woman

Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the hundreds of compounds found in hemp and marijuana, has risen in popularity in recent years thanks to its ability to relieve conditions like stress, insomnia, and pain without producing the high of marijuana. But is CBD safe for use during pregnancy and nursing?

A growing number of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are turning to this natural remedy despite the limited research on its long-term effects. Many assume that CBD must be safe because it is natural and organic. Its therapeutic properties appeal to moms-to-be dealing with pregnancy pain, discomfort, anxiety, sleepless nights, and mood swings.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple! Let’s look at the research and possible effects of CBD use while pregnant and breastfeeding.

Can You Use CBD While Pregnant?

There is simply not enough evidence to determine one way or the other, so we don’t know how CBD could affect fetal development, a pregnant mother’s health, or a growing baby. However, existing research on CBD use while pregnant or breastfeeding has raised several concerns.

The FDA cautions expecting and nursing mothers to avoid CBD products altogether, as there is so much we don’t know. The agency references one older study that found that high doses of CBD in pregnant test animals caused issues with the reproductive system of developing male fetuses.

Additionally, a 2021 study found that CBD impacted mood and cognition in rodent offspring after birth. The female offspring even had altered memory and anxiety as adults. And adult offspring experienced brain changes that could affect gene activity.

 

A 2019 review of CBD studies also found evidence of several negative effects in pregnant animals, from delayed or altered reproductive development to reduced fertility to neurobehavioral changes to decreased growth and weight. While this doesn’t necessarily mean human babies would be subject to the same effects, we don’t know what we don’t know.

Can You Use CBD While Breastfeeding?

Again, we have very little information on the impact and safety of CBD use while breastfeeding. However, research has found that both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active compound in marijuana that produces the “high,” and CBD stay in breast milk after use by the mother. 

This is important to note as some CBD products contain trace amounts of THC. THC could also affect a baby’s brain development and lead to stillbirth at or after 20 weeks of gestation.

This research suggests that if breastfed infants consume CBD and/or THC passed on through breast milk, it could result in the health issues described above. 

Are There More Risks of Using CBD While Pregnant or Nursing?

We know CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system to help regulate many of our body’s vital functions, from mood to digestion to healing. However, it also interacts with female hormones, specifically estrogen, and we don’t know how this could affect reproductive health. The concern is that CBD could disrupt hormones when taken while pregnant.

A survey found that 29% of women of childbearing age thought topical CBD was safe during pregnancy. Dr. Mark Zakowski, M.D., FASA, senior author of the study and chief of obstetrical anesthesiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, explained, “That’s concerning because CBD may interact with commonly used anesthetics that might be needed during labor and delivery. And ongoing CBD use has shown the potential to act like a common class of antidepressants, SSRI inhibitors, which can adversely interact with other drugs.“

Health professionals are also concerned because CBD is unregulated, and low-quality products have been found with various potencies and toxins, such as pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus. 

However, safer, higher-quality products have become available since the federal ban on hemp was lifted. Now, more companies (like The Healing Consultant!) focus on organic, locally-grown hemp and clean production processes.

Is Topical CBD Safe in Pregnancy?

Topical CBD products are considered possibly safer than oral ones because they don’t enter the bloodstream. CBD will only penetrate the skin’s deeper layers in a transdermal product. 

Our skin contains lots of cannabinoid receptors, meaning topical CBD activates the endocannabinoid system by binding to the CB2 receptors in your skin to alleviate pain and inflammation. This is how topical CBD products provide quick, localized relief.

While CBD creams and balms may be safer, you should always consult your healthcare provider before using any new substance while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Final Thoughts on CBD Use for Pregnant & Breastfeeding Mothers

So, yes, you may come across other moms and moms-to-be who praise CBD for its alleviating effects and safety, from reducing morning sickness to pain relief. But remember, there is still a long way to go when it comes to research—and every individual is different!

The FDA and other governing bodies and researchers are working on long-term research to uncover CBD’s effects on kids years after their mothers have used CBD during pregnancy and breastfeeding. As the FDA notes, we have yet to understand the science, safety, and quality of CBD products.

 

On that note, the FDA and many health professionals advise against using CBD or any cannabis product while pregnant or breastfeeding. But if you have questions about CBD use during these sensitive times, you should discuss it with your doctor and cannabis healthcare professional to determine what is best for you. 

Do you have more questions about the safety and effects of CBD? Book a consultation with me, The Healing Consultant, today! As an anesthetic nurse now certified in medical cannabis and therapeutics, I’ll gladly guide you toward safe, organic wellness solutions.

Varnar Spencer
Founder, The Healing Consultant

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Varnar Spencer

Varnar helps women cope with loss, trauma, stress and pain. She offers consultations and care packages to help her clients feel supported using natural coping tools.

Who Is The Healing Consultant?

As the Healing Consultant, I’m here to help women like me cope with loss, trauma, stress and pain. Find out more.

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