Is CBD Safe for Pregnancy? Exploring the Facts and Myths
CBD — aka cannabidiol, is one of the most active and popular cannabinoids found in cannabis. Most people use CBD-infused products such as CBD rubs, CBD oils, and CBD Gummies for pain, anxiety, sleep, and insomnia.
You shouldn’t be surprised to know that 64% of Americans use CBD products for pain. People with anxiety and insomnia use CBD 49% and 42% respectively.
During pregnancy, most women experience some common adverse effects such as stress, anxiety, body aches, muscle pains, sleep disturbance, hormonal shifts, and so on.
Therefore, it’s not uncommon for childbearing moms to feel the urge to use CBD — the most popular pain, stress, and anxiety-relieving remedy of modern times.
But, the question that arises here is, “Is CBD safe for pregnancy?” In this blog, we’ll discuss this delicate matter in detail and inform you about the effects of CBD use during pregnancy.
CBD and Pregnancy: A Complex Issue
The soaring popularity of CBD can easily influence pregnant mothers to use it. CBD has many therapeutic benefits such as stress and anxiety relief, reduced pain, improved sleep quality and duration, and so on.
Expectant mothers might consider CBD to get help with the following pregnancy symptoms.
• Stress and Anxiety
• Sleep Problem
However, the problem lies in the limited research on the effects of CBD or any form of cannabis/marijuana on the unborn child. Unlike marijuana, anecdotally CBD is admired for providing relief without causing any intoxicating or notable side effects. Also, It doesn’t contain a higher amount of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and is used by many as a natural remedy.
But it’s not a good idea for expecting mothers to use any form of cannabis product. Yes! The scientific research is limited, and most studies reveal uncertainty about the potential risks.
According to the 2019 survey by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), many people including expecting women and healthcare providers think that CBD is safe during pregnancy. However, this misconception makes “CBD and pregnancy” a bit more complex issue. Note that recent studies have already mentioned some of the potential negative effects of CBD on fetal development.
Effects of CBD During Pregnancy
The effects of CBD on pregnant women are not fully known. Animal studies suggest that consuming cannabis or anything associated with CBD during pregnancy simply means you’re putting your unborn child at risk. However, a few research mention the possible effects of CBD and marijuana during pregnancy.
1. Potential Risk of Miscarriage
There are no human studies that say the use of marijuana can be a potential cause of miscarriage. However, animal studies indicate using marijuana in the early stages of pregnancy might increase the chance of miscarriage.
2. Low Birth Weight or Premature Birth
Taking cannabinoids during pregnancy can result in premature birth or low birth weight. It has become a matter of concern due to the increased rate of prematurity after cannabis use during pregnancy. Besides, according to Science Daily “Women who use cannabis, both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), during pregnancy could be putting their child at risk for low birth weight and behavioral problems”.
Furthermore, the risk of low birth weight was assessed in 18 of the studies. Researchers discovered that women who used cannabis during pregnancy were more than twice as likely to have a low-birth-weight baby than women who did not.
3. Brain Development
CBD (Cannabidiol) when present during fetal development can make lasting changes in the brain. These changes are linked to gene pathways associated with neurological disorders. Researchers are surprised by this and think more studies are needed to understand how CBD exposure before birth affects the long-term brain function and mental health of a child.
4. Increased Pregnancy Side Effects
CBD is well-tolerated for most people. However, some people might experience side effects such as reduced appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, and so on. So, consuming CBD during pregnancy can increase these symptoms. Research suggests that 90% of pregnant women feel fatigued during pregnancy and surely no expectant would want to feel more fatigued and sicker by using CBD.
Is CBD Safe for Pregnant Women?
Science is still learning regarding the use of CBD during pregnancy. But you might be inquisitive to know “Is CBD safe for pregnancy.” In short, CBD is not considered safe for childbearing mothers.
If you’re carrying a baby and considering using CBD, note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Besides, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) states that CBD should not be used during pregnancy. The health implications of CBD products during pregnancy remain unknown. CBD in large doses harms developing fetuses in animals .
⇒ Read More: CBD Cream for Back Pain During Pregnancy?
Can You Take CBD While Breastfeeding?
Due to insufficient data, it’s difficult to say yes or no. Also, it is not fully understood whether CBD is passed to a baby through breast milk or not. But CDC encourages to avoid CBD while breastfeeding.
However, the CDC warns breastfeeding mothers regarding the use of CBD, Marijuana, and THC in any form. CBD or related products should be avoided for the following reasons according to CDC guidelines.
• Harmful chemicals from marijuana can pass to the infant through breast milk or secondhand smoke exposure.
• Chemicals from marijuana, including THC, can affect neurodevelopmental processes in the infant.
• CBD products may contain contaminants that could be harmful to both mother and infant.
• Breastfeeding mothers who are using medical marijuana or CBD are encouraged to significantly reduce intake.
Why Do Experts Consider CBD Unsafe During Pregnancy?
Most of the experts advise against CBD during pregnancy due to limited research. They often restate the FDA recommendation regarding the use of CBD for pregnant mothers.
Besides, research on CBD and pregnancy is sparse, mostly involving animals. However, this animal research raises concerns indicating that fetal exposure to cannabinoids could affect sperm count, testicular function, immune system development, and the body’s ability to defend against cancer and infections.
Nonetheless, the contaminated CBD products are also a concern with some containing trace amounts of THC. THC exposure during pregnancy may have adverse effects on academic achievements and increase the risk of autism and learning disorders.
Furthermore, CBD can cause side effects like fatigue, diarrhea, and appetite changes and may interact with medications. Keeping all these risk factors in mind, experts clearly emphasize avoiding the use of CBD during pregnancy.
Safe Alternatives to CBD During Pregnancy
Before using any alternatives or supplements during pregnancy, it’s vital to consult with a healthcare professional or midwife. However, there are some safe alternatives that you can choose to reduce the symptoms.
Here are some safe alternatives to CBD products to mitigate the adverse effects of pregnancy:
• Ginger: 85% of expecting mothers experience nausea or vomiting commonly known as morning sickness. Eating ginger in various forms including candid, pickles, or as a tea, can provide positive effects.
• Magnesium: Taking magnesium supplements can help you relax and feel sleepy and reduce the feelings of restless legs. Also, magnesium can decrease headaches and other pains by blocking pain receptors. Talk to your doctor or midwife before incorporating magnesium during pregnancy.
• Vitamin B6: Expecting mothers can take vitamin B supplements by consulting with their doctor. It can help maintain healthy production of serotonin and norepinephrine. B6 can also resolve some cases of morning sickness
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the use of CBD during pregnancy.
1. Is it safe to use CBD oil while pregnant?
No. According to the FDA, taking any form of CBD including CBD oil during pregnancy is not advisable. If you’re thinking about using CBD in the prenatal period, make sure to consult your healthcare provider or midwife.
2. Can you take CBD for morning sickness when pregnant?
It might be tempting to use CBD for morning sickness during pregnancy due to the therapeutic benefits CBD offers. However, according to the CDC and FDA, you should avoid using any form of CBD when you’re pregnant. Always talk to your doctor or midwife before making any decision regarding the use of CBD, THC, or marijuana.
3. Is CBD Safe for Breastfeeding Mothers?
No. CBD in any form is not thought to be safe for breastfeeding moms and their babies. Also, CBD products may contain harmful contaminants that could be potentially damaging to both mothers and infants.
The Bottom Line
It's not unusual to feel morning sickness, sleep trouble, backaches, anxiety, restless legs, and so on in the antenatal period. To mitigate these adverse effects, expecting mothers might think of using CBD products.
However, it’s not a good idea to choose cannabidiol or THC-infused products in any form. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) always encourage avoiding cannabis, marijuana, or hemp-derived products.
To err on the side of caution, guardians and caregivers should always ensure that childbearing mothers are getting risk-free foods, supplements, and lifestyles during and after the three stages of the prenatal development period.
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2. Starkman, E. (2015, April 27). CBD and Pregnancy: What You Should Know. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/baby/cbd-pregnancy
3. Many women and health care providers assume CBD safe during pregnancy despite lack of research, surveys show. (n.d.). https://www.asahq.org/about-asa/newsroom/news-releases/2019/10/4-cbd-in-pregnancy
4. Can marijuana use during and after pregnancy harm the baby? | National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2023, July 28). National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/can-marijuana-use-during-pregnancy-harm-baby
5. Volpe, J. J. (2020). Commentary – Marijuana use during pregnancy and premature birth: A problem likely to worsen. Journal of Neonatal-perinatal Medicine, 13(1), 1–3. https://doi.org/10.3233/npm-190403