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With CBD being used in varying forms to address a wide range of conditions, the next logical question might be to ask: is it ok to use if you are pregnant?

CBD is ideal for relieving symptoms related to insomnia, anxiety, pain, nausea and anxiety – all of which can affect expecting and nursing mums at one time or another.

Anecdotally, many mums are turning to natural products to offer relief for the aches and pains of pregnancy or to take the edge off their anxiety about the upcoming changes. If you’re thinking about using CBD, it’s essential to understand with the body of research says, what we know and what we don’t know, and how other mums are using CBD to manage their pregnancy and breastfeeding journeys.

Whether you’d like a CBD-infused drink as an alternative to a glass of wine in the evening, a relaxing, restorative bath with a CBD bath bomb or simply as a sleep aid at the end of the day, here’s what you need to know about CBD if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

How can CBD help pregnant mums?

CBD has been shown to help people manage their physical and mental health. It can help with anxiety and depression and, in terms of physical health, CBD is effective in managing pain and sleep disorders, as well as suppressing nausea and vomiting.

With all these potential benefits, it’s no surprise that both pregnant and breastfeeding mums want to know more about CBD and its ability to help manage some of the most common symptoms.

Is CBD safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers?

Before we get into the safety concerns around CBD for pregnant and new mums, it’s important to keep this in mind: the research is limited. There are studies on the effects of regular marijuana use, but not CBD.

We’ve covered the differences between CBD and marijuana in a previous article, with the most critical points to remember being:

  • CBD has little to no THC – this is the cannabinoid that gives the ‘high’ and is also thought to interact and bond with the receptors in your endocannabinoid system.
  • Cannabidiol, the primary cannabinoid in CBD oil, is thought to support the work of the receptors and promote the production of endocannabinoids, helping your body to maintain balance.

So, at first glance, it would seem that CBD (not marijuana) is safe for expecting and nursing mums. However, in general, most doctors would be slow to recommend the use of CBD simply because there are no reliable studies to fall back on, and the research that is available has shown that cannabinoids could be harmful to mums and babies. BUT, and it’s a big but, this research investigates the effects of marijuana, not CBD.

As we learn more about the effects of CBD and the role that it plays in maintaining homeostasis in the body, opinions from experts may begin to shift. Until this happens, though, you should work with your health care provider to work out a safe, effective treatment plan to manage your pregnancy.

Risks for pregnant mums

In pregnancy, chemicals cross the placenta to the fetus, so anything you ingest can have an effect on your unborn child. While regular marijuana use can increase your risk of giving birth to a smaller baby, one cannot infer that CBD will do the same. The other thing to consider is that there’s no long-term research showing the effects of using CBD in utero, and CBD production and sales are often poorly regulated.

There is no evidence to suggest that CBD oil carries risks for expecting mothers but, equally, there is also no evidence to show that it is safe. However, the quality of the CBD should be something that you focus on. Studies have shown the presence of heavy metals and poisons in many CBD products, which makes choosing the right product all the more important.

Catherine Monk, a professor of medical psychology in the departments of obstetrics and gynecology and psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York summarises it like this: “We don’t have enough data to say if it’s dangerous or safe.” So, while conventional medications may have side effects for some, they’re a known quantity, unlike CBD, where doctors don’t know all the implications yet.

Risks for breastfeeding mums

Again, there are no studies on the use of CBD oil while breastfeeding, but many experts would advise against it due to CBD quality concerns and the lack of research. CBD affects people differently, so if you find that CBD makes you feel drowsy, it could impair your ability to care for your child (in the same way that a glass of wine might).

Studies have shown that chemicals from marijuana use are able to be passed through breast milk which could affect the baby. But, as the effects of CBD are very different to those of marijuana, it is difficult to draw conclusions.

It all comes down to the THC level because THC, unlike alcohol which can clear out of breastmilk within a few hours, takes at least six days to get out of the breastmilk. And it could even be as long as six weeks depending on the amount and frequency of the mother’s cannabis usage.

As Philip Anderson, a clinical professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, explains “hemp or cannabis (products) have the potential to be a mixture of CBD and THC. There are no standards that are followed in analysis or labelling that I would trust.”

How are mums using CBD?

In the light of a lack of scientific studies to fall back on, it can be helpful to look at anecdotal evidence. Many mums have been open and willing to share their experiences of using CBD during pregnancy, and here are some symptoms that is can alleviate:

Morning sickness 

Many pregnant mums suffer from morning sickness (which can often extend into the afternoon and evening), and in some cases, this can be diagnosed as hyperemesis gravidarum, a chronic, severe form of morning sickness. This is dangerous both for the mom and the unborn child, and the medication that is usually prescribed for this condition has a long list of side effects. CBD has been used successfully for its anti-nausea properties, which is why some may choose it as a natural way to manage their morning sickness.

Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Some mums choose to stop taking anxiety and depression medication during pregnancy due to the risks that they can have for the unborn child. But this is an incredibly stressful time that can heighten feelings of anxiousness, which is why there are many accounts of women choosing to use CBD to support their mental health during pregnancy.

Sleeplessness and Insomnia

Whether it’s caused by pain, anxiety or fluctuating hormones, insomnia is common among pregnant women. Studies have shown CBD to be helpful for people struggling with sleeplessness, making it a good, all-natural alternative to sleep medication. But it has not been tested for use for pregnant mums.

Pain and Discomfort

Joint pain, nerve pain and headaches are common during pregnancy as your body changes to accommodate your growing baby. CBD’s anti-inflammatory and pain suppressing properties have been well-documented over the years, which is why women may choose a natural alternative such as CBD to take the edge off.

With the lack of evidence one way or the other, this is a decision you need to make for yourself, and we would recommend talking to your doctor before you make any decisions. If you decide to go ahead, do your research and make sure that you only use the best quality CBD.