Can I use cannabis when pregnant?
Using cannabis during pregnancy raises a lot of controversy as the effects of cannabis on the baby are not yet fully understood. We know that inside of us we have our endocannabinoid system that makes sure our body works in harmony. This system is the support mechanism for our fertility, growing of the fetus and a successful pregnancy. Cannabis can support that system while being pregnant but using cannabis while carrying a baby has to be controlled, knowing exact dosing and using only the purest of the products available.
CBD could be of help for women with severe morning sickness, as it’s not psychoactive and has very minimum side-effects. But the thought of messing up your baby's brain is a big concern for new mums as there is so much information out there that it’s just easier to stay away.
But what if cannabis can have a positive effect? A study done in 2015 showed that prenatal exposure to cannabis improved GMP - Global Motion Perception - in young children, giving them a better ability to see the bigger picture later in life. While prenatal exposure to alcohol decreased that ability in children. Also, there was another surprising outcome - kids with cannabis exposure had a bigger GMP than normal kids, showing us a positive effect on the developing baby.
There is a more significant effect in play when looking at mental issues in developing babies, most important is the history of mental illness in the family. The fear is that cannabis will rewire the brain and affect the baby's brain development. Researches in Harvard University found in their study that depression and bipolar syndrome will come from the family history of the parents, not from using cannabis. Another study from Carleton University in Ottawa (Canada), assessed a child's overall development, cognitive function, and intellectual abilities - it found that kids exposed to both cannabis, smoking, and alcohol had close to an 8% difference compared with healthy children. A study conducted in Jamaica in 1994 showed that there was no significant difference in exposed and not exposed newborns when they were just born but surprisingly the study showed better self-regulation and stability in kids whose parent were heavy cannabis users.
The safety of cannabis during pregnancy was also reviewed by Lynn Zimmer and John P. Morgan, concluding in the article that fetal harm outcomes are not consistent in different studies, showing that no scientific evidence says cannabis directly harms the fetus. But also found that still, more research has to be done. The most recent report by National Academies of Medicine says that the only substantial evidence based connection is between cannabis use during pregnancy and lower birth weight in infants. Lower birth weight not being somehow associated with development issues.
CBD derived from hemp is allowed in Australia, everything else is available through a prescription from an authorised prescriber. Carrying a baby can feel like a lot at times so having someone to talk to is essential. Self-medicating should be avoided. Please speak with a professional if you are thinking about using cannabis-based medicine while pregnant. Be clear why you want to use cannabis medicine and avoid smoking or eating any products that you are not sure about.