Can I Smoke Weed While Pregnant?

smoking weed

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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 weed. 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 a 2019 Gallup poll, 12% of American adults say they smoke weed, and that number has remained fairly steady since 2015. 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 weed or use cannabis: to relax and unwind, to treat a medical condition, to manage your mental health. There is no shame in doing so if that works for you. However, it is not recommended that you continue smoking weed 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.”

Smoking Weed During Pregnancy

Marijuana 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 weed.

The hard truth is that you really must refrain from smoking weed or using cannabis products throughout your entire pregnancy.

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, marijuana use during pregnancy is a problem, whether smoked or ingested, because the chemicals found in marijuana 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 mothers need to avoid, without exceptions.

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 weed during pregnancy. Additionally, he says, there are no benefits to smoking weed that can’t 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.

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.

Is It Safe for Baby?

According to ACOG, while the data about the effects of smoking weed on babies is limited and more research needs to be done, it is known that cannabis passes to your fetus during pregnancy. The possible risks to your baby, including low gestational weight at birth and stillbirth, are serious.

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.

Dr. Jones describes the possible risks to your growing baby in more detail. "[The risks include] disruption of brain development before birth, smaller size at birth, higher stillbirth risk, increased preterm labor, and harm from secondhand marijuana smoke (i.e. behavioral problems in the future).”

There are risks to you, too, including 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.

Benefits of Smoking Weed During Pregnancy

At this time, there are no benefits to smoking weed during pregnancy, and any benefits that may be found are outweighed by the risk that smoking weed poses to you and your baby. Again, this is something that major medical organizations (ACOG, AAP), as well as the doctors we consulted, are in clear agreement about.

Many mothers have heard that smoking weed or using cannabis helps with morning sickness. Dr. Jones says that there is no proof of t and that either way, smoking weed to treat morning sickness comes with too many risks. “This has not been proven, and we recommend using safer options that can help with morning sickness or hyperemesis during pregnancy,” says Dr. Jones.

Safety Precautions

Because there are no circumstances in which smoking weed during pregnancy is considered safe, there are no safety precautions to take. Abstinence is the only policy when it comes to smoking weed during pregnancy.

If you are planning to become pregnant in the future and are a regular marijuana smoker, you may want to consider stopping the habit prior to your pregnancy. “I recommend that women who are using cannabis for medical purposes stop using it three 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.

If you are someone who uses marijuana 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.

When Can I Resume Smoking Weed?

You can safely resume smoking weed after your baby is born, with a few caveats.

First, 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 marijuana 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, there are no pregnancy-safe alternatives to smoking weed. Ingesting cannabis (edibles) or vaping are not viable alternatives either, because you are still taking in the same substances. “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. 

That being said, if marijuana or cannabis products were an important part of your lifestyle, or were being used to treat a medical condition, there are pregnancy-safe alternatives to marijuana use during pregnancy.

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 marijuana and 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 marijuana for medical purposes.

"[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 Marijuana For Mental Health

Some people use marijuana 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 doctor or midwife. They can suggest pregnancy-safe options for managing this, 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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Article Sources
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