Today we’re going to jump into a bit more controversial topic than usual: CBD and pregnancy. More specifically, we’ll explore what we know about whether CBD is harmful for pregnant women or not, what the mainstream healthcare and big pharma industries think about CBD and pregnancy, and how CBD compares to other, mainstream accepted, drugs and substances that pregnant women often consume.
First off, we just want to hammer home that you should talk with your doctor, general physician, or OBGYN before trying ANY new substance, including CBD. Everyone is unique and you can’t always trust generally accepted opinions or even the position of official organizations when it comes to drugs or substances, regardless of whether the consensus is in favor or against consumption. The best thing you can do is talk with your own healthcare provider, because they know you, understand your health situation, and are typically looking out for your best interest (hopefully).
Why Do Pregnant Women Consume CBD?
Pregnancy is difficult. Actually, that’s an understatement. It’s probably one the hardest things that any human ever has to go through. What makes it even more difficult in many cases, is that all the health problems you typically deal with on a daily basis, whether mental or physical, are often exacerbated. So that means that in addition to the stress, anxiety, inflammation, pain, or sleep problems you normally have, you now have those PLUS your hormones going crazy and a little human growing inside of you.
There are many people who claim that CBD does wonders for the issues we listed above. Even more important is that the scientific research is quickly catching up in many areas and confirming or encouraging many of the claims that CBD users are making. There is increasing evidence that CBD has substantial positive effects on pain and inflammation, stress, anxiety, and depression, sleep problems, digestive problems, and the list goes on.
Pregnant women use CBD for the same reason that everyone else uses CBD: to improve their health and wellness and try to alleviate various health ailments. Plus, there is some clinical evidence that CBD may be effective in suppressing nausea and vomiting, both of which happen to be common symptoms of pregnancy for many women.
What We Know and Don’t Know about CBD during Pregnancy
As with many areas of CBD consumption, the truth is that there just aren’t very many studies or very much data about the effect of CBD during pregnancy. Most of the studies that do exist about cannabis products and pregnancy mostly discuss THC and not CBD. The main concern when it comes to cannabis in general during pregnancy and during breastfeeding is that THC can cross the placenta and be secreted in breastmilk.
According to a report put out by the U.S. Surgeon General, THC during or after pregnancy may result in adverse outcomes like lower birth weight, hyperactivity, and inhibited brain function. Remember, the Surgeon General is referring to marijuana and THC, not specifically CBD. As this article points out, when it comes to CBD, the FDA recommends avoiding it during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. The article points out the following reasons for that recommendation:
- One study found that when pregnant animals were given high doses of CBD their male babies suffered reproductive problems.
- When you use CBD while breastfeeding, some of it likely gets into your breast milk, which means your baby will consume it.
- CBD products may be contaminated with harmful substances, such as pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus.
- Clinical studies in humans show CBD side effects can include liver damage, extreme sleepiness, and harmful interactions with other drugs, according to the FDA.
The problem with all of these reasons is that the FDA is making largely unsubstantiated claims. The second and third bullets have nothing to do with whether CBD itself is safe for pregnant women or not, they are just stating that CBD may get into breastmilk and some CBD companies may be less than scrupulous about what is in their products (click here for more information about the lengths we go to ensure our CBD is pure).
The points they’re making in the first and last bullets concern only extremely high doses, sometimes the equivalent of 200 mg per kilogram of body weight in humans. One of the authors of a mouse study, which showed possible liver problems resulting from very high doses of CBD, noted that a 200 mg per kilogram of body weight dose is generally not applicable to most real life scenarios. Also, animal studies are always transferable to human subjects; and that goes for animal studies showing positive and negative aspects of CBD.
In a nutshell, there is simply not enough evidence to say conclusively whether CBD is not good to consume during pregnancy, whether it is good, or whether it’s neutral. What we do know is that fetuses, like full grown humans, have an endocannabinoid system that regulates a wide range of neurodevelopmental processes. Because CBD interacts with adult endocannabinoid systems (it’s how we experience the reported benefits), it’s probably fair to assume it will also interact with the fetus’s endocannabinoid system in some way.
So, What Does this All Mean?
At the end of the day, the evidence about how CBD affects pregnancy is inconclusive, namely because it’s lacking. The lack of conclusive evidence is why we stress that you take into account your own specific health situation, ailments, and goals, and speak about them with your doctor. Because, at this point, many in the scientific and healthcare communities agree that CBD in non-pregnant humans is completely non-toxic and generally safe to consume.
- According to a WHO report from 2017, it is “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.” They also went on to state that, “in humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”
- A review of clinical researchpublished in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research confirmed that CBD is generally “very safe”, particularly when compared with other drugs. The review concluded that the biggest risk you’re likely to run into with CBD products is strong feelings of sleepiness—and only if you take very large doses.
- According to WebMD, cannabidiol (CBD) is “safe when taken by mouth or placed under the tongue appropriately.” CBD has been consumed safely for long periods of time with no known or observed serious side effects. Any non-serious side effects like drowsiness or light headedness are likely a result of incorrect dosage and users can easily fix this by experimenting with lower amounts.
What about Other Drugs During Pregnancy?
It only makes sense to discuss CBD and pregnancy if we mention alternative drugs that aren’t so great for us but that many consume while pregnant.
- Antidepressants – According to this article from the Mayo Clinic, “Certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are generally considered an option during pregnancy, including citalopram (Celexa) and sertraline (Zoloft). Potential complications include maternal weight changes and premature birth. Most studies show that SSRIs aren't associated with birth defects. However, paroxetine (Paxil) might be associated with a small increased risk of a fetal heart defect and is generally discouraged during pregnancy.”
- Over the Counter Pain Medication – While acetaminophen is generally considered safe to consumer during pregnancy, it is still suggested that you speak with your doctor first, as there is a chance babies could be affected by it.
- Anti-Inflammatory Drugs – Some studies have found that popular NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin many increase the risk of miscarriage or lead to certain birth defects. However more research is also needed to say conclusively whether this is the case or not. It is suggested that you speak with your doctor before consuming them.
- Opioids – Opioids are generally not recommended to be consumed during pregnancy, as the baby may become dependent on them and possibly develop breathing issues. However, if you’re prescribed them and become pregnant, your doctor may not want you to stop taking abruptly, as doing so may harm your health or your baby’s health.
The point is, many common drugs we use on a daily basis or to treat harmful conditions have serious potential harmful side effects. Whether you’re pregnant or not, all of the drugs listed above can have harmful consequences. And yet, your doctor may “okay” you taking them during pregnancy at certain stages if the overall gain for your health is worth the risk. Again, we get back to the point that it’s important to talk to your doctor before drawing general conclusions.
Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe for Pregnant Women?
A big question right now is whether the various COVID-19 vaccinations are safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. The general consensus from official entities like the FDA and CDC is that yes, they are safe. This stamp of approval is despite the fact that there has not been any human testing to determine the effects of the vaccine on pregnancies, and at least one animal study showed a 25% death rate in baby rats for those getting the vaccine.
We’re not trying to say that pregnant women should not receive the vaccine. We’re simply pointing out that the vaccine has gotten the green light from official sources for pregnant women and CBD hasn’t, despite the fact that CBD has had a similar amount or more studies completed with few bad results.
You might say that that makes sense because the vaccine is critical right now during a pandemic. That might be true, but the question still stands, who knows what’s best for your own particular health? The health issues that you use CBD to combat might be just as important to you as getting vaccinated. If new vaccines and antidepressants might be okay for you to consume during pregnancy, then surely an all natural product like CBD may be as well.
Once again, talk to your doctor and work with them to determine what is best for you and your baby. Look at the facts of what we know, and don’t be overly convinced by inconclusive data. It might be best for your health to try all natural remedies during pregnancy before diving into synthetic, mainstream medicine options.