Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but side effects like nausea, pain anxiety, among others make it quite challenging. CBD oil has become a widely favored remedy for treating those symptoms.
Popularity notwithstanding, it’s crucial to know if CBD is safe for expecting or lactating mothers. Because what a mother-to-be eats, drinks, and puts on their skin can impact their baby’s growth and development.
Studies on how CBD’s affects pregnancy and breastfeeding are few. Here’s what is known and what remains unclear.
The Role Of The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) During Pregnancy
Cannabinoids exert their effect on the body via receptors in the endocannabinoid signaling system (ECS). The ECS plays a vital role in ovulation, egg fertilization and growth, childbirth, and throughout postnatal development. Studies show that a successful and healthy pregnancy requires a balanced ECS.
Disruption of the ECS homeostasis during pregnancy may compromise pregnancy outcomes. Causes of ECS imbalance include stress, poor diet, drugs, injury, disease, and genetics, among others. Pregnancy-related complications that may arise from inadequate endocannabinoid balance/tone include preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction, low birth weight, and increased risk of miscarriage.
THC And The Endocannabinoid System
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis, exerts its effects by interfering with the ECS system. The compound can dissolve in lipids or fats and can cross the placenta where it accumulates in the brain and adipose tissue of the fetus.
Studies show babies exposed to THC in utero may experience slightly shorter gestational periods, lower birth weights, and higher rates of depression and drug abuse in adulthood. For these reasons, health professionals do not approve of the use of marijuana, in any form, by pregnant or nursing mothers.
CBD And The Endocannabinoid System
Unlike THC, CBD does not bind directly to either CB1 or CB2 receptors. Instead, CBD enhances natural cannabinoid levels. This indirect action promotes ECS homeostasis and produces the effects the compound is known for like reducing inflammation, pain, stress, and anxiety, among others.
We don’t know a whole lot about the effects of CBD on pregnancy as few conclusive studies exist. One study found chronic exposure to CBD may reduce placental protective functions and change the morphological and physiological characteristics of the placenta.
Cannabinoids In Breast Milk
Cannabinoids occur naturally in breast milk, and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) is the most abundant. This compound is crucial in breastfeeding as it stimulates the suckling response and tongue muscles. 2-AG also regulates appetite, which helps prevent overeating in infants.
Babies with an endocannabinoid imbalance may develop a syndrome known as “non-organic ability to thrive.” This condition causes decelerated or arrested physical growth as the infant has no desire to feed.
THC is lipid-soluble and can accumulate in breast milk. Studies show children exposed to THC via nursing are at an increased risk of sudden infant death and have motor development an intellectual challenges.
CBD, like THC, is also lipid-soluble. However, unlike with THC, conclusive clinical research into the effects of CBD on lactating newborns is still pending.
Common Uses For CBD Oil During Pregnancy Or Breastfeeding
Nausea is prevalent in up to 85 percent of pregnant women. 60-70 percent of those women also contented with vomiting. In extreme cases, morning sickness may cause hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe condition that results in dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. CBD tinctures have been found to have anti-nausea/anti-emetic effects and can suppress queasiness and vomiting by interacting with serotonin receptors.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through many changes. While these changes are healthy, they can cause increased pain in the muscles, joints, and ligaments. Mild stomach pain is also common as the womb expands. Pain is also common in the early postpartum stages. CBD has anti-inflammatory effects and is a natural pain reliever.
78% of women report more disturbed sleep patterns during pregnancy. Lack of sleep may be the result of hormonal changes, pain, discomfort, among other reasons. Adjusting to life with a new baby can also result in postnatal insomnia. Sleep deprivation impacts the development of baby’s in utero and increases the risk of depression and mortality in the mother. Studies show CBD can improve insomnia and promote a restful night’s sleep.
Anxiety, Stress, And Depression
Pregnancy is one of the most stressful events a woman endures in her life. Around one in every ten pregnant women has antenatal or postnatal depression. The latter may result from depression evolving continuously since pregnancy. If left unchecked and uncontrolled, anxiety, stress, or depression have a severe negative impact on personal, family, and child developmental outcomes. CBD, through positive interactions with serotonin receptors in the brain, produces an anti-depression and anti-stress effect.
Consult with your doctor if you’re thinking of taking CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. If you do decide to use CBD, start with a small dose (1mg – 5 mg). Also, source your CBD products from a reputable vendor and make sure they contain no THC, solvents, heavy metals, or harmful pathogens.