When I started researching for this post I truly expected to find mountains of evidence supporting that marijuana use during pregnancy harms the fetus. What I found was considerably less frightening and non-conclusive. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Today the BFF asked me if I knew then what I know now, would I use pot while pregnant?
Fortunately, my morning sickness for all pregnancies was relatively minor and short-term. Additionally, during both of my pregnancies my hormone changes actually lessened my depression significantly. I had yet to be diagnosed with depression so was not using antidepressants.
At the time of my life when I conceived, was pregnant, gave birth to, and breastfed my babies, I did not use marijuana. I simply hadn’t started yet. I also had a stick firmly implanted in my ass.
Because of those reasons, no, I don’t think I would use marijuana during my pregnancies.
That’s the long answer. The short answer is, if I were suffering from morning sickness like friends have suffered, I would use marijuana while pregnant without hesitation.
I would NOT smoke it. I would be very concerned about exposing myself and child to any smoke. Instead, I would use a high-quality vaporizer and edibles. I would try to use it proactively and would cross my fingers in the hopes that the puking went away by the second trimester.
The Problem with the Studies
You won’t find many large studies on this subject because clinical trials that expose pregnant mothers and fetus to cannabis are pretty much impossible to get permissions for. In addition, the admission of women smoking pot while pregnant has extremely dire consequences, from incarceration to loss of custody of the child (Even in states where marijuana use is legal). Women aren’t exactly lining up to volunteer information.
The studies we do have are simply not large enough, or consistently controlled for other substances, to draw a definitive conclusion one way or another. As far as I can tell, more recent US studies are conducted on “high risk” women in socio-economic situations that are very different from mine, and fail to control for other intoxicants, home environment, poverty, diet, etc.
Pot and Morning Sickness
70-80% of pregnant women deal with morning sickness-also called nausea gravidarum or nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Additionally, 1-2% of pregnant women experience hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) – basically, the miserable and life threatening condition of vomiting continuously for weeks during pregnancy, losing weight, puking blood, and wanting to die. Common drugs used to treat both conditions are antihistamines, Maxalon, and Zofran (of course, whether a woman suffering from morning sickness is able to keep those pills down, is something to consider). Unfortunately, like all drugs, they don’t always work, and some women are distrustful of taking any medication during pregnancy.
Marijuana is a known effective treatment for nausea brought on by chemotherapy. Studies show that the same can be said for morning sickness. From NORML:
(S)urvey data collected by the directors of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society (The VICS) and the BC Compassion Club and published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice reported that cannabis is therapeutic in the treatment of both morning sickness and HG. Of the 84 women who responded to the anonymous questionnaire, 36 said that they had used cannabis intermittently during their pregnancy to treat symptoms of vomiting, nausea, and appetite loss. Of these, 92 percent said that cannabis was “extremely effective” or “effective” in combating their symptoms. Investigators noted that although most women chose to self-administer cannabis by smoking, many (31 percent) also reported consuming hempen edibles, and eight percent reported using cannabis-based oils or tinctures. – Paul Armentano
Dr. Melanie Dreher
Dr. Dreher is the often cited dean of nursing at Rush Medical Center in Chicago, who conducted a study in Jamaica in the 1990’s on women during their entire pregnancy and then on the child a year after birth. Comparing the babies of those who used cannabis (daily use during pregnancy) versus those who did not, show no difference whatsoever. It is important to note that the women in the study rarely smoked marijuana, they used it in their morning tea to combat nausea.
So, what we’ve learned:
- Current studies have inconsistent results with the most serious effects on the fetus being the possibility of cognitive disorders in childhood. These studies do not adequately control for socio-economic factors, other intoxicants, tobacco, poverty, nutrition, etc.
- Studies have shown no known connections to birth defects. A large British study of 12,825 interviews done after delivery, did not find a statistical association between marijuana use and birth defects.
- The main use of cannabis during pregnancy seems to be for the relief of morning sickness.
- Current cultural trends make admission to marijuana use during pregnancy extremely hard to find.
Criminalizing and fear mongering pregnant women is absolutely detestable to me. I urge, as always, all my readers to do their own research in looking these things up. In the internet age finding relevant academic studies is easy for anyone with a little time on their hands.
What are your thoughts dear reader? Did you smoke pot while pregnant? What do you think about women who do? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Until next time!