What if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
When it comes to pregnancy and breastfeeding, no two women have the same experience. And, while we do need more research on the impacts of cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, here are some things we know now. (Translated copies of the breastfeeding flyer are available here.)
Currently, the Surgeon General, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend all pregnant and breastfeeding women, or those who are considering pregnancy, avoid cannabis products.
Read the full Surgeon General’s warning >
Finding ways to manage pregnancy discomforts—like morning sickness, stress, and nausea—can be hard. That’s why, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s great to talk to your primary care provider for safer alternatives than cannabis.
THC, the chemical in cannabis that makes you feel “high,” can pass to babies during pregnancy and breastfeeding. THC can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream. It also disrupts the mother’s endocannabinoid system, which can affect brain development and is critical to a healthy pregnancy. THC exposure can also lead to problems with low birth weight, feeding, learning, and paying attention.
THC can remain in breastmilk for up to six days after using. THC passed while breastfeeding may affect the newborn’s brain development and can result in hyperactivity, difficulty thinking, and other long-term health concerns. That’s why you should avoid all THC products during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This includes e-cigarettes and vapor products.
Studies show that secondhand cannabis smoke may contain some of the same harmful cancer-causing chemicals as cigarette smoke. The Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics warns of the potential harmful effects to infants. To protect your children from secondhand smoke, try only smoking when and where others aren’t around. After you’re done, wash your hands and change clothes to avoid lingering smoke. And always lock cannabis away where teens and small children can’t get to it.
Ready to react
Cannabis can impair your judgment, alertness, and reaction time—skills vital to driving safely and tending to your child’s needs.
Not “just natural”
While cannabis can be natural, it’s not free from harm. There are health risks around cannabis for both you and your baby. And although it’s a plant, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Avoid cannabis for you & your baby
Have you seen a new sign in retail stores? As of June 1, 2019, cannabis retailers must display a sign advising women to avoid cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding. The warning sign reminds women and their partners that avoiding cannabis while pregnant and breastfeeding is the safest and healthiest option for their baby.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) developed the sign with the input of other public health, healthcare, and prevention partners. The sign is a response to 2018 changes to LCB Packaging and Labeling rules. The sign went through the standard LCB rule making process, including a written comment period and public hearing, before it was adopted as a rule.
You can learn more from the University of Washington’s Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute.
Marijuana’s impact on pregnant women and their children >
Cannabis, reproduction, and pregnancy >
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