Cannabis use & Pregnancy.
Cannabis use and pregnancy are two things that are very taboo and remain hush-hush even with cannabis being medically legal in Canada since July 2001, and recreationally legal since October 17, 2018. Mothers fear judgment, and the unknown consequences or lack thereof when it comes to using weed during pregnancy.
When you go to any medical facility or doctor’s office I’m sure you’ve seen the posters on the wall that the Government of Canada is producing, warning about the effects of cannabis consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The problem is, we still don’t have any plausible medical information and research to either prove or disprove their claims.
There have been very few medical studies done on the effects of cannabis and pregnancy, and the few studies that have been done are either done improperly or inconclusive due to a lack of proper knowledge and research. Many mothers are left wondering if their cannabis use is helping or harming their unborn baby. What do science and healthcare providers have to say about the issue? Let’s dive into cannabis and pregnancy.
Can cannabis use affect my fertility and chances of getting pregnant?
From a personal standpoint, no. I was able to conceive very easily and had a viable and healthy pregnancy. I was under the influence of cannabis and so was my then-husband when we conceived my child 6 years ago.
But we also had no prior known fertility issues and weren’t actively trying to get pregnant.
According to research, couples who are already struggling to conceive could be hindering their chances of conceiving due to their cannabis use. Dr. Sara IInitsky an obstetrician who practices at a fertility clinic in London, Ontario has been doing more research into the effects of cannabis use and fertility.
“Dr. Sara Ilnitsky, who practises at a fertility clinic in London, Ont., said some studies suggest that changes in ovulation patterns and reduced sperm motility are associated with smoking cannabis and could compound the frustrations of a couple trying to conceive.” - GlobalNews article
Though she goes on to add that research behind this is very limited and mostly made up of self-reports and people who use various doses of cannabis.
If you’re trying to conceive and having issues, go see a medical professional so they can rule out any underlying causes.
The potential negative effects of cannabis use during pregnancy.
The medical community and other health experts warn against the effects of weed use during pregnancy but they don’t have enough medical research to back their claims.
Due to this, they say there is no “ safe amount” of cannabis to consume during pregnancy so they recommend you abstain or try to cut back drastically.
The potential negative side effects include,
Low birth weight
Lower alertness in newborns
This is taken from the government of Canada’s website
Though there is no consistent research to back their claims and the evidence is very limited and often the research is in combination with mothers who also used tobacco and alcohol substances during pregnancy.
What about alcohol and tobacco?
We know drinking alcohol and using tobacco is a no when you’re pregnant due to the many proven health risks that come with it. It is proven that continued alcohol and drug abuse during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, placental detachment, pre-eclampsia, preterm labour, or stillbirth.
Children born to mothers who consumed alcohol or drugs during their pregnancies suffer from an array of health problems such as,
the size of the fetus
Heart, brain, and lung function
Lifelong health, mental, and physical disabilities
Why is there so little research into cannabis use and pregnancy?
A lot of the lack of research had to do with the legalization aspect of cannabis in Canada. With it being illegal for so long, a lack of funding was available or offered into researching the effects of cannabis use and pregnancy. It is also a challenging substance to study due to how vast cannabis is. We have a plethora of strains, edibles, high THC, high CBD, and various other products that contain cannabis now.
Hopefully, as cannabis becomes less taboo and more researched, we will have solid answers to its effects on pregnancy.
Why do mothers continue to use cannabis during pregnancy?
From a brief survey, I gathered from mothers, or mothers to be. The biggest factor in continuing cannabis use throughout their pregnancy is due to morning sickness.
What is morning sickness?
Think of having the worst hangover ever but you haven’t partied at all. Morning sickness is no joke for some women. Nausea and vomiting during the first trimester are horrific on top of being excessively tired from growing a new human life. Some women get so violently ill that they end up on prescription medication to stop the sickness, or they end up in the hospital due to dehydration from sickness, which can put the developing fetus at risk as well as the mother.
Mothers continue using cannabis to calm down the morning sickness or to keep it at bay 100%.
New research is showing the popular morning sickness drug Zofran, known as Ondansetron poses a small risk of the fetus developing cleft pallet, But to prove this more research into the effects is needed, just as we need more research into cannabis use and pregnancy.
Cannabis use and pregnancy is still a grey area when it comes to current and up to date research. I’ve personally known lots of mothers who consumed cannabis throughout their whole pregnancies ( and cannabis ONLY) and went on to have the healthiest and happiest pregnancies with little to no problems. Their babies were born on time or later than expected, all healthy birth weights and have gone on to grow up and be successful, contributing, good members of society. Without a lack of research, I can see why mothers would be so leary to continue cannabis use throughout their pregnancies. As moms, we only want what’s best for our children. In my opinion, it all boils down to personal preference, your health, and your conscience.
Always be honest with your healthcare provider about your cannabis use, As we are more open about cannabis use the stigma will be crushed and more potential research can be done into the benefits of cannabis during pregnancy. Living in this era we have more than just dried flowers to smoke, we have edibles, topicals and CBD only products. Many of these would be beneficial towards pregnant women if there was more research done into this. I don’t condone using cannabis during pregnancy but I also can’t recommend it. It is a personal decision that only you can make. Do what’s best for you and your baby.