Pregnant woman working on laptop
8 min.

Introduction

CBD for pregnancy is still not yet endorsed from a purely medical point of view. But, CBD is indeed a big topic among expecting mothers.

Many pregnant women are eager to consider alternative approaches to handle the most challenging 40 weeks of their life.

Pregnant women who are anywhere between their 6th or 18th week of pregnancy are often bothered with several symptoms caused by chemical disruptions in their bodies. That is when considering CBD comes into picture.

Therefore reading this article might help you find answers to some of the most common questions. 

  • Why do to-be moms want to incorporate CBD during pregnancy?
  • CBD Oil During Pregnancy: Is it Safe to Use? / What are the risks?
  • Does CBD Oil help Morning Sickness?
  • What do studies say about the use of CBD for pregnancy?
CBD for pregnancy: Does it help control emesis?

Why do pregnant women want to use CBD?

Firstly, pregnancy experiences can differ from person to person. So when experienced mothers give you some free advice, you might have to take it with a pinch of salt.

Some women might have a smooth first trimester, while it might be a rough ride for others.

Secondly, women who have been using CBD or cannabis-based products before getting pregnant might want to continue using them during this period as well. But if you have never used CBD before and want to begin dosing during this period, it might not be a good idea. 

Some women are personally taking measures to consult with midwives and local experts about their idea of incorporating CBD into their routine, expecting to combat the following symptoms:

Anti-emetic properties: Nausea is the foremost concern, especially during the first trimester. Thus, women want to attempt CBD to benefit from its anti-emetic qualities to handle excessive nausea or morning sickness.

Antipsychotic &  Anticonvulsant properties: Hormonal changes, sugar imbalances, digestion issues, and fluctuations in blood pressure could lead to sleep deprivation or daytime sleepiness. As a result, Insomnia could affect the overall health of the mother and the fetus.

The antipsychotic and anticonvulsant properties of CBD could positively affect sleep quality. While the former helps reduce emotional and subconscious stress, the latter supports easing muscular tension.

Analgesic properties: Some of the most common symptoms that persist throughout the gestation period are pain, cramping, and aches. So women might want to attempt CBD to derive benefits from its analgesic properties.

  • Nausea is the foremost concern, especially during the first trimester. Thus, women want to attempt CBD to benefit from its anti-emetic qualities to handle excessive nausea or morning sickness.
  • Hormonal changes, sugar imbalances, digestion issues, and fluctuations in blood pressure could lead to sleep deprivation or daytime sleepiness. As a result, Insomnia could affect the overall health of the mother and the fetus.
  • The antipsychotic and anticonvulsant properties of CBD could positively affect sleep quality. While the former helps reduce emotional and subconscious stress, the latter supports easing muscular tension.
  • Some of the most common symptoms that persist throughout the gestation period are pain, cramping, and aches. So women might want to attempt CBD to derive benefits from its analgesic properties.
  • Ultimately, all of the above physical discomforts tend to lay pressure on the mind which is susceptible to anxiety and depression. A reference from a 2015 study1 is mention-worthy at this point.

In a survey, 350 pregnant women were grouped according to their trimesters to evaluate the presence of elevated depression and anxiety.

It reported that 15.8% of them showed high state anxiety, and 25% of them in their first pregnancy showed elevated depressive symptoms. 

Therefore women prefer to venture into seeking natural non-opioid remedies to handle such situations. CBD could be one of the options.

CBD Oil During Pregnancy: Is it Safe to Use?

The FDA strongly discourages using CBD, THC, and Marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Medical experts are skeptical and do not recommend cannabis-based products for expectant mothers, despite being overwhelmed with questions from couples about adopting non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBD to handle nausea, pain, and insomnia.  

CBD is everywhere today. That is not only an effect of marketing but a solution to people who sought alternatives to evade prescription medication.

But is CBD safe to use during pregnancy?

Let us approach this from two perspectives. We are familiar that the cannabis plant has hundreds of cannabinoids. Out of them, the most popular are THC and CBD. THC is well known for its psychoactive properties, while CBD is not. 

  • Firstly, THC-containing products are not safe for pregnant women.  

The 2017 study2 report that THC could pass through the placenta and possibly affect the brain of the fetus.

  • Secondly, the use of non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBD during the prenatal period lacks research. 

Therefore, there are a lot of unknowns concerning the applicability of CBD during pregnancy in humans.

Although there are references to studies that report on the pain-relieving effects of CBD, its suitability to expecting or breastfeeding mothers is a subject that requires further investigation.

Moreover, state-wise legalizations of medical marijuana in the US are on the rising trend. It has further increased the demand for cannabinoids.

But medical experts are still doubtful about recommending it as the CBD market is evolving and progressing towards better regulation. Hence, some products might contain more THC that could be harmful.

Risks of using CBD Oil while pregnant

There are no examples from reported cases from research that confirm the risks of CBD usage. CBD is available in several forms, CBD oils, CBD capsules, CBD supplements, CBD topicals, and more. Therefore, one could approach CBD in a more personalized, need-based manner. 

  • On a general note, we can point out a possibility of discomfort in the liver. While morning sickness already exerts more pressure on the liver, cannabinoids might create further disturbances.
  • There could be a possibility of harmful interactions with other drugs. Because pregnant women usually are prescribed vitamins and Iron supplements.
  • A 2019 study3 points out that prenatal exposure to cannabinoids could lead to developmental consequences, but it has not explicitly studied CBD.
  • Be mindful of tobacco, alcohol, and CBD interaction. 

What does the research say about the use of cannabis during pregnancy? 

Research findings on prenatal exposure to cannabis, in general, are inconsistent as the methodology varies in individual studies. Therefore a consolidated conclusion from different approaches poses a challenge. 

However, briefly pointing out excerpts from a few studies as follows: 

  • The 2016 study4 and the 2017 study5 point out that adverse outcomes are also attributable to the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other confounding factors. 
  • A 2018 study6 reports that women who used cannabis while pregnant had higher odds of developing anemia. And children exposed to cannabis while in the womb had lower birth weight and need placement in the neonatal intensive care unit.
  • A 2019 animal model study7 reports that decreased body growth throughout development and combined exposure exacerbated these effects.
Pregnant woman suffering from headache

CBD Oil and Morning sickness.

Morning sickness can be physically and emotionally a debilitating phase for pregnant mothers. More mothers are moving away from prescription medication to avoid its after-effects. Preliminary studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that CBD oil benefits expecting mothers to combat excessive emesis. 

It is worthwhile to understand its causes as well as find some appropriate solutions to control the same. 

  • Estrogen and progesterone gradually begin to increase to reach their peak around the 32nd week of pregnancy. You can imagine a spike in your hormones becomes six times more than your normal levels. 
  • That invariably impacts the liver, as it struggles to process food, resulting in nausea or morning sickness. Consequently, emesis leaves you in a poorly managed diet situation resulting in a sugar imbalance. Hence troubles like headache, irritability or weakness, adds on.

We are familiar with how CBD interacts with the ECS and its ability to augment its functioning. Endocannabinoids are critical modulators of the female reproductive processes. A research report8 points out that the ECS  along with modulating pain and neurodevelopment, it also impact the female reproductive system affecting the folliculogenesis, oocyte maturation, and ovarian endocrine secretion. In addition, the ECS affects oviductal embryo transport, implantation, uterus lining and placentation.

Ultimately, some quick tips for handling morning sickness could be – intake of prenatal Vitamins, vitamin B6, Ginger ale, cutting down caffeine, practicing to eat small meals throughout the day, drinking adequate water, and other lifestyle changes.

What tips do you follow? Share your experiences in the comment box below, it might be helpful to other expecting mothers. 

Group of pregnant woman talking

Discussion: How to safely use CBD during pregnancy?

CBD is a belief for many women. If you feel confident about incorporating CBD into your routine, these quick tips might come in handy.

  • Please do your homework and research to understand the pros and cons, relate it with the trimester you are in, and how well your body could cope with CBD.
  • If you have never tried CBD before and are going to try it for the first time during pregnancy, you might want to rethink.
  • Experienced users, choose high-quality CBD products.
  • Be open with your specialist about your choice of CBD, whether CBD isolates would suit you along with the preferred route of administration, and dosage.
  • Start on low doses and try to retain micro-dosing.
  • Track your dosage, before and after experiences, improvements, and side effects. If you observe anything outside your expectations, take medical advice immediately.

Wrap up

  • Make it a habit to discuss with your consulting specialist when you prefer to take CBD  products or any other supplements while you are pregnant. Avoid taking it on your own.
  • Research on CBD and its effect on expecting mothers and the fetus has so far been on animal models, and the results have been dosage-dependent. Studies on human pregnancy need to consider concurrent substance use, demography, and socio-economic factors. 
  • Preliminary research and anecdotal evidence from mothers who used CBD during the prenatal period are growing as more women are looking for alternatives from prescription medication. 
  • Planning your diet with small meals, including protein-rich food, using essential oil diffusers in your living room, or rubbing them on your pulse points, all of the above combined with a CBD routine may help you tackle troublesome nausea and other discomforts.
  • Last but not least, make sure your better half is equally aware and informed about your physical and emotional changes to support you throughout this new journey. 

Do spare a few minutes to share your thoughts in the comment box. It may help other women feel connected and gain knowledge from collective experiences.  

References

  1. Podvornik N, Globevnik Velikonja V, Praper P. Depression and Anxiety in Women During Pregnancy in Slovenia. Zdr Varst. 2014;54(1):45-50. Published 2014 Dec 30. doi:10.1515/sjph-2015-0006 []
  2. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 12. 10, Prenatal, Perinatal, and Neonatal Exposure to Cannabis []
  3. Fish, E.W., Murdaugh, L.B., Zhang, C. et al. Cannabinoids Exacerbate Alcohol Teratogenesis by a CB1-Hedgehog Interaction. Sci Rep 9, 16057 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-52336-w []
  4. Conner, Shayna N. MD, MSCI; Bedell, Victoria MD; Lipsey, Kim MLIS; Macones, George A. MD, MSCE; Cahill, Alison G. MD, MSCI; Tuuli, Methodius G. MD, MPH Maternal Marijuana Use and Adverse Neonatal Outcomes, Obstetrics & Gynecology: October 2016 – Volume 128 – Issue 4 – p 713-723 doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001649 []
  5. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 12. 10, Prenatal, Perinatal, and Neonatal Exposure to Cannabis []
  6. Hanan El Marroun, Qiana L. Brown, Ingunn Olea Lund, Victoria H. Coleman-Cowger, Amy M. Loree, Devika Chawla, Yukiko Washio, An epidemiological, developmental and clinical overview of cannabis use during pregnancy,Preventive Medicine,Volume 116, 2018,Pages 1-5, ISSN 0091-7435,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.08.036. []
  7. Breit KR, Zamudio B, Thomas JD. Altered motor development following late gestational alcohol and cannabinoid exposure in rats. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2019;73:31-41. doi:10.1016/j.ntt.2019.03.005 []
  8. Walker, O.S., Holloway, A.C. & Raha, S. The role of the endocannabinoid system in female reproductive tissues. J Ovarian Res 12, 3 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13048-018-0478-9 []

Author

CBD Expert | View posts

With close to two decades of successful stint in the Media industry, I felt I was surely missing a piece in my life puzzle. I took a break and set out to seek the purpose of my life. I travelled, lived out of a suitcase, let things flow into life without resisting, and after five challenging years, I found my rhythm. I love to write about Cannabis and Health and try my best to simplify esoteric concepts into simple ideas for life.


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