Is it Safe to Use CBD Oil While Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
Is it bad to use CDB while pregnant? Experts explain if CBD is for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
CBD oil is touted online as a one-stop remedy for relieving inflammation, stress, anxiety, nausea, and more. Many of those ailments are often pregnancy symptoms, and it may seem like an easy fix to use CBD oil for relief. But like all medications and supplements, it is essential to do some investigation before using CBD products while pregnant.
Your healthcare provider should have the final say on what is considered safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, to help moms-to-be and breastfeeding mothers with the preliminary footwork, we’ve compiled answers, backed by medical advice and research, to some of the most common questions about the use of CBD.
What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is made from extractions from the cannabis plant and diluted into a neutral, edible oil. Even though CBD oil comes from the same plant as marijuana, it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana that has psychoactive effects.
The CBD market is still relatively new and unexplored, and for much of the 20th, it was illegal to grow the hemp plant in the United States. Therefore, not much research has been done into the therapeutic benefits of using CBD recreationally or medicinal purposes.
Currently, CBD is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so products may contain THC even when it is listed they do not. However, a 2017 report by the World Health Organization states that CBS oil is not addictive nor leads to drug abuse and should be considered safe. It is important to note that this study did not look into the effects of CBD oil on pregnant and nursing mothers.
Commons Uses of CBD Oil
CBD can be applied to the skin topically, inhaled through a vapor pen, or eaten in an edible and is a common treatment for chronic pain or mental health conditions.
Medical marijuana is commonly used to treat:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Multiple sclerosis and muscle spasms
- Severe and chronic pain
- Severe nausea or vomiting caused by cancer treatment
CBD oil is believed to have benefits for many of the same conditions as well as acne, anxiety, and neurodegenerative disorders.
Some pregnant women consider using CBD products to relieve unwanted pregnancy side effects such as:
- Morning sickness and nausea
- Trouble sleeping
- Anxiety or stress
Research of the Effect of CBD Oil on Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Studies on CBD oil and pregnancy and breastfeeding have not been conducted comprehensively, which means there is a gap in the research. However, there has been research conducted on the effects of marijuana during pregnancy and breastfeeding and the effects of CBD oil on other types of patients.
Marijuana Use and Pregnancy
The Surgeon General advises against using marijuana during pregnancy and warns that when THC enters the mother’s bloodstream, it can affect the developing fetus.
Marijuana use while pregnant can lead to:
- Low birth weight
- Abnormal brain development
- Disruptions or changes to the endocannabinoid system during fetal development
Cannabis products are the number one illicit drug used by pregnant women in the United States. While it is legal in some states and cities, using products containing THC carries potential risks, similar to alcohol use during pregnancy, to your developing baby.
Marijuana Use and Breastfeeding
Research on marijuana use while breastfeeding is limited and inconclusive. But the CDC reports that chemicals from marijuana, in any form, can be passed to your baby through breast milk. Therefore the CDC recommends that breastfeeding mothers avoid marijuana use.
In terms of CBD oil, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against its use while breastfeeding because even without THC, the oils can still contain harmful contaminants such as pesticides, fungus, heavy metals, and bacteria.
Common CBD Oil Risks
Pregnant or not, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved CBD oil for use in any application except for one prescription drug for children who have epilepsy.
At this time, the known risks for CBD outweigh the known benefits. In addition to containing contaminants, high doses of CBD oil put individuals at risk for:
- Liver damage
- Extreme sleepiness and fatigue
- Possible side effects or harmful interactions with prescription medications
So, Is CBD Safe During Pregnancy?
It is believed that topical applications applied to the skin are less likely to enter your bloodstream, which could affect the placenta than tinctures or edibles, making some ointments and creams a safer option.
There is currently no research showing that CBD oil is safe during pregnancy or for breastfeeding women, but no studies show that topical ointments and creams are not safe.
We know that cannabis use, when smoked as marijuana or ingested as an edible, is potentially harmful to unborn and breastfed babies. THC has been linked to stillbirth and poor brain development. Neither the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists nor the American Academy of Pediatrics supports THC or CBD oil usage during pregnancy or postpartum while nursing.
The best advice we can share with you is to discuss with your ob-gyn the potential benefits to your health and weigh them against the possible risks to your developing or nursing baby. All medications pose a risk, but safer and more tested medications or supplements may be available than cannabinoids during pregnancy.
Looking for other ways to cope with anxiety during pregnancy? Here are five strategies to dealing with gestational anxiety.
Can I Use CBD While Pregnant?
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR Family and Scary Mommy, among others.
Verywell Family articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and family healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Andrea Chisolm, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN who has taught at both Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. She has over 20 years of clinical experience and is currently is in practice at Cody Regional Health in Cody, Wyoming.
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Pregnancy comes with a slew of unpleasant side effects, like extreme nausea or persistent backaches, but many common medications are no longer safe once you have a baby on the way. If you’re on the hunt for something natural to cure your morning sickness, a strained lower back, or even pregnancy-related anxiety, you may start to wonder about CBD.
As wonderful as this substance may seem, it is not safe to use during pregnancy. Although there isn’t enough research yet to say for sure what could go wrong, there are a few potential concerns to know about. And until we know more, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid CBD while pregnant.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a component of the cannabis plant. CBD has many therapeutic benefits, such as helping to alleviate chronic pain, anxiety, and depression, insomnia, and nausea and vomiting. There are a few choices for how to take CBD, including topicals, gum, sublingual drops, and gel caps.
CBD won’t make you stoned, though. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another well-known component of the cannabis plant, CBD does not intoxicate. Many people prefer to use CBD because it gives them the benefits of cannabis without the associated “high.” In general, you can get CBD anywhere in the country, since it’s federally legal.
Is It Safe to Use CBD During Pregnancy?
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says it “strongly advises against” taking CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. You should avoid CBD during pregnancy, largely because its effects on a developing fetus are simply unknown. We do know that THC can enter a developing baby’s brain, so there is reason to believe CBD may be able to as well.
“There is the potential risk that [CBD] could affect embryo implantation and promote miscarriages,” cautions Felice Gersh, MD, a California-based OB/GYN and award-winning author of two books on fertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
The FDA is still collecting data on the exact risks of taking CBD during pregnancy, but until we hear any different, you should not consider CBD as a safe option when you are expecting.
Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking CBD while pregnant.
What If I Use CBD Before Realizing I’m Pregnant?
If you regularly use CBD, or you just happened to try it out before you got that positive pregnancy test, don’t panic. According to Marco Mouanness, MD, an OB/GYN and fertility expert at the Rejuvenating Fertility Center in New York City, you are probably fine. Along with discontinuing your CBD use, he advises reaching out to your OB/GYN so they can monitor you as necessary.
Since we really don’t know enough about CBD’s effects on pregnancy and a developing fetus, we have to rely on what we know about THC, since they are both cannabis components. Animal studies show a connection between THC and early miscarriage, but Dr. Mouanness points out that if you get a positive pregnancy test, you haven’t miscarried. As long as you stop using CBD right away, the earlier CBD use won’t cause miscarriage.
In some cases, your OB/GYN may prescribe progesterone to offset any potential miscarriage risk, notes Dr. Gersh. “Taking supplemental progesterone may provide some protection from the effects of CBD exposure early in pregnancy. [as it] sometimes helps prevent miscarriage.”
CBD is not safe to take during pregnancy. There are a few potential risks to know about.
Potential Risk of Miscarriage
Animal studies have found a link between CBD use and early miscarriage. While animal studies do not directly translate to humans, you may want to stop taking CBD as a precaution if you are actively trying to conceive.
Potential Reproductive Harm
Another animal study linked CBD use in pregnancy with lower sperm production in male offspring. So, if you give birth to a boy, there could be a risk to his future reproductive health. Again, results from animal studies do not always carry over to humans. However, it is best to play it safe.
Worsening of Pregnancy-Related Side Effects
Many people like CBD because of its minimal side effects. However, some people experience tiredness or diarrhea when using CBD. These side effects could negatively affect your pregnancy. No one wants to be even more tired than pregnancy already makes a person, and diarrhea may lead to dehydration—a dangerous state when pregnant.
When Can I Resume Using CBD?
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you should continue to hold off on CBD use. “CBD. will cross into the breast milk and go to the baby,” warns Dr. Gersh.
There is some evidence that CBD in breastmilk may negatively affect infant motor development. And since it stays in your milk for a while, this isn’t something you can “pump and dump.” “Some studies have shown that CBD oil derivatives can be found in breastmilk for up to six days after use,” Dr. Mouanness points out.
Once you have fully weaned your baby from the breast, it is safe to start using CBD again. At this point, there is no longer any risk to your child. There are pros and cons to taking CBD, but those are up to you to discuss with a doctor once you’re no longer sustaining your child with your body.
Pregnancy Safe Alternatives
If you are seeking relief from certain pregnancy symptoms, there are a few natural remedies that may help.
Ginger is an ancient remedy proven to help with nausea and vomiting. Dr. Gersh notes that you can consume ginger in any of its forms, including candied, pickled, or as a tea, to get the positive effects.
If you can’t get the sleep you need, magnesium, an essential vitamin, may help. Magnesium has a calming effect when taken regularly, which, along with promoting good sleep, may help combat anxiety and depression. Taking a magnesium supplement blocks pain receptors, so it may also decrease headaches and other aches and pains.
Dr. Mouanness notes that vitamin B can significantly reduce pregnancy-induced nausea. However, he also points out that you should not take any more vitamin B than the amount already included in your prenatal vitamins unless directed to by a doctor, since we don’t know enough about its effects on a developing fetus.
Be sure to consult with a healthcare provide before starting any new supplements or medications.
A Word From Verywell
CBD has many benefits, but the possible risks to a developing fetus make it unsafe to use during pregnancy. Miscarriage and effects on future fertility or infant motor development are possibly related to its use, and until we learn more, the risk is not worth it.
That doesn’t mean you have to suffer through uncomfortable or unbearable pregnancy side effects, though. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an OB/GYN, midwife, or healthcare provider for ideas on how to safely treat your symptoms.