Can I Smoke Weed While Pregnant?

Illustration of someone smoking while pregnant

Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee

If you’re someone who smokes weed regularly, you may be wondering what will happen if you become pregnant. Maybe you are pregnant already, and you aren’t sure if you can continue smoking. You may be wondering if there is a “safer” way to do it. Or, you may be considering smoking weed for the first time to relieve pregnancy discomforts like morning sickness.

If this describes you, you are not alone. According to one study, 11% of Americans say they have used weed in the past month. Weed and cannabis products are now legal for recreational use in 18 states and the District of Columbia. All but a handful of states allow for some legal use of cannabis, including for medical purposes.

There are many reasons why you might smoke or vape weed or eat cannabis. For instance, some people use it to relax and unwind or to cope with the symptoms of a medical or mental health condition. However, it is not recommended that you continue smoking, vaping, or using cannabis products during your pregnancy. In fact, doing so can endanger yourself and your growing baby.

As Dr. Vonne Jones, OB/GYN at Total Women's Care in Houston, TX, explains, “It is not safe for babies or mothers. There haven't been any studies that suggest a benefit to marijuana use during pregnancy.”

What Is Weed?

Weed is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried flowers of Cannabis sativa. Some additional slang terms for weed include herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja, and Mary Jane among other things.

Is It Safe to Use Weed During Pregnancy?

Weed use during pregnancy isn’t one of those gray areas in pregnancy where it should be “mostly” avoided, or where there are “safer” ways to do it. There aren’t smaller dosages that are considered acceptable either, and there are no known benefits that outweigh the risks of smoking.

The hard truth is that you really must refrain from smoking weed or using cannabis products throughout your entire pregnancy to protect your baby from health concerns, including stillbirth, prematurity, and brain development problems.

All major health organizations are in consensus about this, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AGOG) and the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP). As ACOG explains it, weed use during pregnancy is a problem, whether smoked or ingested, because the chemicals found in weed have been found to reach both the fetus and placenta.

Dr. Jordan Tishler, an emergency room physician, president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists, and CEO of InhaleMD, agrees that smoking weed during pregnancy is something all pregnant parents need to avoid, without exceptions. If you are planning to become pregnant in the future and are a regular weed smoker, you should plan to stop prior to attempting to conceive.

“I recommend that women who are using cannabis for medical purposes stop using it 3 months prior to trying to conceive or immediately upon learning that they are pregnant (assuming the intention is to carry the fetus to term),” says Dr. Tishler.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about smoking weed while pregnant.

Why You Should Not Smoke Weed in Pregnancy

Though an advocate of therapeutic cannabis usage for people who are not pregnant, Dr. Tishler says there are too many risks and unknowns at this time to recommend smoking during pregnancy. Additionally, he says, there are no benefits to smoking weed that cannot be obtained from conventional medicine that is already known to be safe for pregnant women.

“There’s really no option besides abstinence at this time,” says Dr. Tishler. He also explains that though you may have heard of mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy and had a fine outcome, this is not the same as scientific evidence, and anecdotes like these should not inform your decision about whether to smoke weed while pregnant.

Many mothers have heard that smoking weed or using cannabis helps with morning sickness. Dr. Jones says that there is no proof of that and either way, smoking weed to treat morning sickness comes with too many risks.

“[Using cannabis for morning sickness] has not been proven, and we recommend using safer options that can help with morning sickness or hyperemesis during pregnancy,” says Dr. Jones.

Risks of Weed While Pregnant

As the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains, cannabis can be dangerous to your baby however you use it, including smoking it, eating it (edibles), or vaping it. That’s because cannabis contains almost 500 chemicals, and they are able to pass through the placenta and then to your growing baby. There are risks to your health, too.

Preterm Labor or Stillbirth

If you use weed during pregnancy, your baby is at higher risk for being born too early and too small. Research shows that babies born to pregnant people who are frequent cannabis users are 6% more likely to be premature and 13% more likely to have a low birth weight.

Babies are also at higher risk for being stillborn and 35% more likely to die within their first year of life. It's still not fully clear to researchers whether higher rates of infant death is because of weed use or due to use of other substances along with weed, such as cigarettes or alcohol.

Brain Development and Mental Health Problems During Childhood

There's increasing evidence that weed exposure may disrupt normal brain development of a fetus. Impulse control and hyperactivity as well as challenges with visual and spatial reasoning have been linked to exposure to weed in the womb.

Your child's long-term mental health is at risk, too. Research shows that babies whose parents used weed while pregnant are more likely than others to be anxious and aggressive between ages 3 and 6.

Maternal Health Issues

There are risks for using weed during pregnancy to you, too. These include possible lung injuries and lower circulating levels of oxygen in your body, which can cause breathing problems, says Dr. Jones. Additionally, smoking weed can make you dizzier, impair your judgment, and increase your risk of falling, which can be harmful to both you and your baby.

When Can I Resume Smoking Weed?

If you smoked weed prior to pregnancy, you may be able to resume after the baby is born. But, you should talk to a healthcare provider to determine what is best given your specific situation.

For instance, as Dr. Tishler explains, if you are breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid smoking weed. “Cannabinoids do get concentrated in breastmilk,” he says.

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) explains that while data about the effects of cannabis exposure on infant development is “sparse and conflicting,” there is clear evidence that cannabis gets transferred into breast milk and absorbed by babies. In fact, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the main components of weed, is present in breast milk at eight times the rate than in the plasma of moms who smoke it.

The other thing to keep in mind, says Dr. Jones, is that even if you aren’t breastfeeding, babies can be exposed to weed through secondhand smoke. As ABM shares, infant exposure to secondhand weed smoke has been associated with an increased risk of SIDS.

Finally, if you are smoking weed recreationally, you need to be sure that you are awake and alert enough to care for your infant; if not, you should refrain from smoking or arrange alternative childcare.

Pregnancy Safe Alternatives

Unfortunately, many common alternatives to smoking weed are not safe during pregnancy. When you ingest cannabis (via edibles) or vape THC oil, you are still taking in some of the same potentially harmful chemicals. “It’s not about the way you take it, it’s about the chemistry,” says Dr. Tishler.

The same is true about CBD products, explains Dr. Tishler. “Whatever the unclear data we have on cannabis and pregnancy, we have none on CBD specifically and every reason to expect that it may have effects on pregnancy,” he says. Dr. Tishler doesn’t recommend using CBD products during pregnancy under any circumstances. 

If you are someone who uses weed for medical purposes, Dr. Tishler recommends that you look into alternative treatments that are safe during pregnancy. You can talk to a healthcare provider about how to safely navigate this.

Alternatives to Morning Sickness Treatment

Morning sickness, and especially hyperemesis, can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating. Many moms wonder if smoking weed is a viable alternative, but as Dr. Jones described above, there isn’t evidence that smoking weed will help with morning sickness, nor is it safe for you or your baby.

Instead, for basic cases of morning sickness, try lifestyle and dietary changes. Eating smaller, more frequent meals, staying away from strong smells and triggering foods, and getting plenty of rest can all help ward off the worst symptoms of morning sickness.

For more extreme cases of morning sickness and hyperemesis, ACOG recommends FDA-approved medication to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Talk to a doctor about what medications are safe and available to you.

Alternative to Medical Marijuana

Many people use cannabis products to treat medical conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, HIV, glaucoma, and irritable bowel syndrome. However, if you are planning to become pregnant, or are currently pregnant, you will need to stop using cannabis for medical purposes. This means that you cannot smoke, vape, or use edibles.

"[If you use medical marijuana], other arrangements will need to be made to address the medical concerns that were being treated with cannabis,” explains Dr. Tishler.

ACOG suggests that you talk to a medical provider and discuss alternative treatments that are safe during pregnancy.

Alternative to Weed for Mental Health

Some people use weed to help with mental health issues, and there is some evidence that it can help treat issues like insomnia, anxiety, and PTSD. But again, using cannabis for these purposes during pregnancy is not something that should continue.

If you are dealing with a mental health issue during pregnancy, you should discuss this with a healthcare provider. They can suggest pregnancy-safe options for managing your mental health condition, including psychotherapy, exercise, and meditation.

If you are dealing with a mental health condition that is impacting your ability to function or feel well, you should know that there are medications, including antidepressants, that may be safe for you to take during pregnancy. Discuss your options with a healthcare team.

A Word From Verywell

Hearing the news that you can’t smoke weed at all during pregnancy may come as a surprise to you, and you may find it discouraging or disappointing. Unfortunately, at this time, there are too many risks and unknowns involved for medical professionals to recommend it.

Smoking weed is something that will have to wait until your baby is born, and even then, you will need to exercise caution if you are breastfeeding or if cannabis makes you unable to responsibly care for your baby.

As with everything else, if you have further questions about how this information will impact you or your pregnancy, or if you are finding the idea of giving up weed difficult, discuss your concerns with a medical provider. Remember that any information you share with them will be kept confidential and that the medical team wants the best outcome for both you and your baby.

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11 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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