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Is Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Safe?

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Pregnancy is definitely the most anticipated event in a woman’s life. Conceiving a child can be a beautiful, yet challenging experience to a woman. An expectant mother should be given as much attention to her overall health and wellness during this very special phase in her life.

Among the challenges most pregnant women undergo is the unbearable morning sickness. This certain pregnancy symptom can make their stomach turn even with their favorite comfort food. There will also come a time during pregnancy wherein the idea of pushing out a six- to seven-pound baby can cause anxieties.

Many deal with these challenges in their own way but one rather radical method, which has been a hot topic of debate, is the use of marijuana.  The reason some women choose this method is that they find marijuana can relieve pregnancy anxieties and morning sickness or nausea.

This method comes as a shock to many and is heavily questioned by mothers, doctors and people in general. However, since the medical properties of cannabis can help with other medical conditions, and some women are already using this as a method of treatment for pregnancy problems, it is up to us to explore the question…

Is marijuana use during pregnancy safe?

How Marijuana Can Help Pregnancy Challenges

Cannabis for Pain Treatment and Management- marijuana use during pregnancy

To date, marijuana is considered the most “commonly used illicit drug” during pregnancy.

There is not enough information available to determine exactly how many women resort to marijuana use during pregnancy, but according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), around 2 to 5 percent of women in the United States are positive to marijuana use during pregnancy.

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This portion of women who go for marijuana use during pregnancy wants to overcome:

  • Painful pelvic muscle expansion
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

Since cannabis is naturally a plant and can help with these pregnancy issues, why are most mothers still not open to the idea of marijuana use during pregnancy? And the answer is obvious, they are concerned of how it can impact the unborn child.

So let’s take a look into the most significant question on this topic…

Can Marijuana Consumption Harm an Unborn Child?

Marijuana use during pregnancy

Most people will immediately think that marijuana use during pregnancy will certainly have a negative impact on an unborn child because it’s a “dangerous drug”. And this assumption is due to the stigma that surrounds it.

The reality is, many studies that have been conducted over the years on perinatal and infant mortality do not show increased deaths among babies of pregnant marijuana users.

Even when it comes to babies being born with defects there is little statistical evidence to prove that marijuana has an impact. In general, health care professionals believe that there is no link between marijuana and physical birth defects.

Nevertheless, most researches are still concerned that when marijuana is consumed by a pregnant woman, THC may cross the placenta and enter the growing fetus’ bloodstream.

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), is the active chemical in marijuana which in adults can cause many different reactions in the body and mind.

So despite no harm being reported in studies, the uncertainty of the exact effects that THC can have on a growing baby is a concern.

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The challenge with many studies on marijuana use is that they rely on questionnaires and observations because it is illegal to test drugs on pregnant women for obvious reasons.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) concludes that “there is not a definitive answer” to the question of whether marijuana use is “safe for moms or not,”.

Although, Armamento adds that “it may be arguable that potential pre-natal and post-natal dangers posed by maternal pot use—particularly moderate use—are rather minimal, especially when compared to in utero exposure [to] alcohol and tobacco.”

Possible long-term effects of Marijuana to Child Development

Marijuana use during pregnancy

If the unborn child is unaffected by marijuana during pregnancy, is there any possibility of long-term effects? NORML pulled together a lot of different studies to discuss this point and below is a summary of the findings:

  • A few studies have found that after 3 years of age, children born to mothers who heavily smoked marijuana score slightly differently on cognitive and behavioral tests compared with other babies.
  • Children born to mothers who used marijuana on a daily basis during pregnancy scored lower on memory tests too, though there was no impact on overall intelligence scores. At age 10, kids had a slightly increased risk of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity.
  • In a lab trial which explored the effects of THC on development using mice, showed that the developing mice which were exposed to THC had altered brain cell connections.

This could explain why exposure to THC during pregnancy might leave children with long-term cognitive and memory changes, which can be a big challenge to the child’s learning capacity.

On the other hand, the tests conducted on mice can be questionable as a human brain may process the THC differently during development which may not cause any damage at all,

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What Mothers Say

Shauna from Vice:

“We lived in a state with no legalized medical or recreational cannabis use for the first four months of my pregnancy. During that time, I was vomiting so much that I had to go to the emergency room at least once every week (though sometimes as often as three times a week) for IV rehydration. My doctor prescribed me Zofran, but for most of my pregnancy my insurance company wouldn’t cover it, and it cost about $11 a pill.

Cannabis was about $20 a gram and it let me actually eat something. The only time I ate during those months was the few times I was able to find someone to buy cannabis for me. Four months into my pregnancy, we moved to Colorado and it became a much easier process—we were literally a five-minute drive away from a dispensary.”

Danielle from Vice:

“I was initially against the idea of it, mainly because of the stigma surrounding smoking while pregnant. However, after three weeks of keeping almost nothing down and craving a sandwich…

I smoked for the first time. Just a couple hits. I sat back, ate half a sandwich, and it didn’t come back up! I think I napped after. I smoked a few more times after that because I was still puking almost every 20 to 40 minutes during weeks four through 15 and had lost about 20 pounds. When I smoked, I could eat and nap. It helped keep food down and was better than Zofran.

Honestly a life saver. By the third [trimester] I was doing well enough to not need it. I don’t think it had any effect. My child is much like any other one-year-old. He loves to climb and bounce. He runs around chasing the animals. He sings and dances.”


So is it Safe or Not?

When consuming marijuana during pregnancy, it all comes down to measuring the risks and advantages.

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While utilizing marijuana doesn’t give the impression to bring about birth defects, there is always a risk because any negative impact that may occur depends on how your body reacts.

Some midwives and healthcare practitioners are open to the use of marijuana during pregnancy and may endorse occasional marijuana use among pregnant patients.

But if you are searching for alternative approaches to treating heavy morning sickness and other pregnancy symptoms, you may need to approach your healthcare provider for other recommendations on natural remedies aside from marijuana.

While marijuana can treat morning sickness or reduce anxiety, having a healthy diet to increase weight and avoiding stressful activities are vital to having a healthy pregnancy.


Do you think Marijuana should be recommended as a natural remedy for morning sickness?

Tell us in the comment section below!

 

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