Cannabis and Pregnancy

Vanessa Shanahan

August 16, 2019

The cannabis plant has been used as a women’s aid for millennia, so what do we really think about cannabis and pregnancy? This is perhaps the most controversial topic when it comes to marijuana use, however, the long entangled history of cannabis and womanhood, in general, is a fascinating one. 

In many ancient cultures, cannabis has been a popular choice among women for relief from menstrual and reproductive disorders. As well, historical medical texts from the ninth century Persia provide an example of using juice from cannabis seeds to prevent miscarriages, maintain pregnancy, ease pains, and ease associated migraines. 

Nowadays, epidurals are the most commonly used medication for labour pain. Epidural injections are opioid pain medications that will decrease sensation in the lower half of the body, making labour much more bearable. However, our ancestors had their own remedy for labour pains, cannabis. The use of cannabis was an extremely beneficial treatment for labour pains and childbirth for thousands of years. An interesting fact is that cannabis as a labour aid was not unique to any one region, but rather, a wide variety of societies around the world used this herb in facilitating childbirth. To name a few, Middle Eastern, Islamic, Egyptian, East Asian, Southeast Asian, and South African societies.

Several cultures around the world are still practicing the use of cannabis and hemp products during pregnancy and labour. However, in many western countries, the herb has been outlawed. It is hard to know exactly how many women consume marijuana during pregnancy because most will be afraid to report this to their doctors. According to the World Health Organization, cannabis is the illicit substance most-used by pregnant women worldwide. We would be hard-pressed to find medical professionals willing to suggest cannabis as a pregnancy remedy, however, many women still turn to this herb for the relief of morning sickness. Expecting mothers may also use marijuana to relieve pregnancy symptoms such as a lack of appetite, inadequate hours of sleep and general aches and pains.

So where do we go from here? This remains a difficult and ‘under-the-table’ topic as it seems mostly untouched by medical professionals in the present day. For the most part, they will refuse to discuss it or will reject consumption altogether for pregnant women. With such little medical information, it has become quite common for pregnant women to turn to the internet or even friends for answers.

When it comes to CBD products, this is much more openly discussed. Amy Schumer recently shared a very candid Instagram post explaining her most valuable takeaways from pregnancy. Schumer suffered from Hyperemesis during pregnancy, and turned to CBD to help her cope, “Hyperemesis is real and it’s awful.” Schumer shared that, “The only thing that helped me with my nausea was products from @thelordjones,”. The Lord Jones makes CBD products which contain no THC at all, meaning there will be no psychoactive effects. The alternatives to consuming cannabis are worth exploring for yourself.

We were lucky enough to chat with a woman who used cannabis throughout her pregnancy, and the conversation went as follows;

Do you notice any physical changes when you consume cannabis products? How does the baby react?

Starting at 3 ½ months I was diagnosed with Preeclampsia ( extreme high blood pressure ), as well as I had the WORST morning sickness ( up until the day my little guy was born. THAT’S RIGHT! 10 MONTHS OF PUKING EVERYDAY loll ) to the point of losing weight and not being able to keep any sort of food or drink in my system. Consuming cannabis helped my medical issues tremendously. I only had a window of 15 minutes in the morning after I opened my eyes to get it into my system before the morning sickness hit me and I was down for the first couple hours of my day. My OB had prescribed “morning sickness pills “, but after knowing what kind of fillers are in those prescription meds there was no way I was going to take them if I didn’t have to. I worked in the medical field as a pharmacy technician for 4 years and it gave me a crazy insight into what your day-to-day pills really have in them. You know all those “side effects” you hear on the TV… that’s what the fillers are, and that’s mainly where your side effects come from. Cannabis helped nausea as well as it gave me an appetite. By the 5th month, I had gained back the 15lbs I lost in the first couple of months and was feeling somewhat normal-ish.

Never really noticed any difference in fetal movement. He was a very active baby the whole time. It’s the only thing I miss about being pregnant was the moving sensation.

Did you consult your doctor before use?

Yes, I had told both my family DR. as well as my OB. Both of them in a roundabout way told me that they couldn’t condone it, but also couldn’t tell me not to. It was my choice. There isn’t enough solid research on this to have anyone tell anyone anything different. To each their own.

Do you know other mothers that practiced cannabis use during pregnancy? Who got you onto the idea?

Yes, I know A LOT of other moms who have indulged in cannabis use while pregnant. 

And of them have amazing children. Smart as a whip and all have amazing personalities.

No one “got me into the idea”. Solely a personal choice.

Do you know whether the consumption has any effect on the baby?

Zeroooooo effect. 

He is a full functioning, uber happy 1-year-old, with a kick-ass personality and is a genius.

Did you face judgement? How did you overcome this?

I only ever had 1 person express their views on it to me. Let’s just say him and I did not see eye to eye on the subject. But he is a super judgy person in general, so I didn’t take it too personally.

A Lot of people are gonna have a lot to say about this topic. Even when there is factual research on it you are still going to have the ignorant ones who ” were told ” that’s bad instead of taking the time to do the reading themselves. 

Mostly indulged in the comfort of home, or around close friends. I cut back BIG time from the amount I used prior ( just throwing that out there) not like I would sit at home all day and just do bong rips one after another, loll let’s just get that one straight.

Would you recommend this practice to pregnant mothers?

Ya of course! But as I said, to each their own. I had a friend of mine in her last trimester come to me with insomnia issues and being very uncomfortable. I simply told her to smoke a joint before bed. She was a little weary on it but in the end, made the choice to do so. She called me the next day and was crying because she had got a decent night’s sleep for the first time in months, and felt 10000% better than the previous days.

All in all, women deserve to know the evidence for or against marijuana use during pregnancy, and thankfully there is research being done, albeit slowly. For now, do your research and continue to ask current users about their experience. Do you have any stories to share?