Use of Cannabis in Pregnancy: Symptoms, Safety, and Research — Explained

Many pregnancy-related signs and symptoms, such as prolonged stress levels, repeated periods of nausea, and a reduced appetite, are often effectively battled by marijuana in non-pregnant individuals. But is the use of cannabis in pregnancy a reasonable remedial strategy for expecting mothers who encounter challenges during and after pregnancy?

Pregnancy-related complications don’t just vanish once the newborn enters the world. Apart from that, various postpartum mothers undergo deep-felt anxietypain, and sleeplessness. Is there any problem with consuming cannabis through the pregnancy and postpartum days, and if so, what procedures exist to decrease risks?

Diet, exercise, and use of cannabis in pregnancy


For one, these are slightly observational thoughts and hence don’t restrain for things like the regularity of usage, dosage, or lifestyle diversity, such as exercise and diet. While there’s limited research on how diet associates with cannabis and affects the developing fetus, one research identified a potential effect of dietary choline against abuse caused by gestational THC exposure.

Choline is an essential nutrient located in many foods, such as eggs, meat, and potatoes. The body can create its choline, but it’s usually not enough, particularly for the developing brain, which needs choline synthesis for a crucial developmental brain chemical, acetylcholine.

A team guided by Dr. Camille Hoffman, an OBGYN practitioner in Colorado, traced maternal choline levels in more than 130 women since 2013 and evaluated their children after birth. They noted that cannabis use during the first trimester was connected with behavioral abnormalities. The kids of cannabis-consuming mothers with the highest choline levels had more surpassing self-regulation, enhanced attention span, cuddled longer, and bonded quickly with their parents.

In an interview with Dr. Hoffman, she’s keen to point out that increasing choline in one’s intake is not a sure way to safety. However, based on her research, Dr. Hoffman suggests that anticipating mothers may utilize around 900mg of choline every day through either food or supplement to lessen the potentially harmful impacts of gestational THC exposure.

Cannabis and a pregnancy test

Cannabis does not have any influence on the precision of pregnancy tests. Pregnancy test kits work by distinguishing whether the level of a hormone called hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is increased or not. Apart from that, higher hCG levels help the body compose the appropriate levels of progesterone and estrogen to sustain a pregnancy. As research shows, cannabis does not affect hCG levels and does not intervene with pregnancy detection efficiency.

Marijuana effects on embryo: Here’s what the research says

cannabis effects on newborn babies

In a 2020 study in California, around 11% of women stated using cannabis while pregnant, nearly double than 6% of pre-legalization levels. But one significant limitation of this epidemiological research is that it doesn’t control for marijuana composition—it’s not strain-specific or examined for THC levels.

It is just one research of many that are limited because they don’t consider CBD usage, nor do they reliably consider utilizing additional drugs such as caffeine and nicotine. Consequently, it’s challenging to parse out the effect of cannabis alone on birth issues and child progress.

The outcomes of cannabis usage through pregnancy on the developing fetus and the child’s performance later vary. In part, the timing of cannabis usage during pregnancy may relate to unique influences. The CB1 (Cannabinoid type 1) receptors that THC animates to make you feel high aren’t noticed substantially in the fetus until 19 weeks of pregnancy.

THC readily crosses the placenta in rhesus monkeys and can be discovered in fetal blood within 15 minutes of the mother’s use. However, that’s not to imply the fetus can get stoned; it’s not until the third trimester that the fetus’ brain holds the necessary structures for this effect. Even so, it would be a profoundly distinctive experience.

CB1 receptors and brain development

Still, CB1 receptors and the endocannabinoid system have a plentiful role in brain development. They can influence how brain cells form, direct them where to move, which ones to unite to, and what to look like. The activation of CB1 receptors performs an essential role in brain progress that THC could substantially disturb if the mother consumes marijuana while expecting a child. Or so the speculation continues.

One study of nearly 25,000 mothers noticed that 500 babies born to cannabis-using moms were lighter in weight. They were also more likely to arrive early and more likely to be admitted to the neonatal ICU (Intensive Care Unit). Interestingly, these outcomes were present even when managing for circumstances such as socioeconomic situation.

Additionally, if the parent had traditionally been a cannabis user and stopped during pregnancy, these adverse effects disappeared, suggesting that cannabis directly influences fetal development.

Notably, these findings are not constant. A current 2020 study of California mothers discovered no apparent impressions of cannabis usage on these neonatal children. Together, these conclusions highlight the large variability in cannabis’ influences on the fetus and developing baby.

The effects of cannabis on newborn brain development

Several types of research on lab pets have shown that THC has adverse effects on brain development. However, in many cases, the studies only signify the high levels of THC usage and don’t accurately represent more conventional usage patterns of regular whole-plant cannabis usage.

Nonetheless, researches show the vulnerability to THC of brain sections involved in movement control, executive functioning, emotional growth, and overall mental processing. Some of the general assessments of gestational marijuana usage have noticed that children of cannabis-using parents are more prone to be hyperactive, have poor abstract reasoning, impulsive, and detrimental executive functioning.

A child’s mental wellbeing may alter by parental cannabis usage. Ten-year-old children in one cohort self-reported intense depression if their mothers engaged in heavy marijuana use during the first trimester. It is important because nearly 70% of Colorado dispensaries approve cannabis during the first trimester to battle nausea.

Many parents are genuinely concerned about the long-term behavioral impressions of marijuana utilization. Still, controlled human experiments are necessary to assess its effects further. Also, correlation does not equivalent to any cause, so one must be mindful of placing blame on one factor in complex behavioral issues.

Some may narrow risk by transitioning to high CBD products. Experts still have little knowledge of CBD’s long-term outcomes on the more than 65 targets in the fetus’s body and brain. While the harm of maternal marijuana use is far from constant, there is no visible proof of safety.

Side effects of smoking cannabis in pregnancy

Smoking cannabis or tobacco is harmful to both pregnant women and their expected babies. Smoke comprises of carcinogens, tar, and carbon monoxide, in addition to other toxins, just as tobacco cigarettes do. If you smoke near other people, they will also get these toxins. In particular, carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen carried through the bloodstream, which results in reduced oxygen and other nutrients getting to the baby. 

Coughing and increased phlegm are also side effects of smoking regularly. Toward the end of pregnancy, a woman’s lung capacity decreases, due to pressure from the growing uterus on surrounding organs. It may make smoking awkward or more uncomfortable in late pregnancy.

Mixing marijuana with other substances

When considering the study of moderate marijuana use among pregnant mothers, Dr. Hoffman said that the effects on fetal brains are still complex. “People make all sorts of good or poor decisions, and marijuana doesn’t seem to be as dangerous as other drugs of abuse,” she said. “Yes, there is emerging data that we should be exercising caution, but it’s not as bad as the things that we know are harmful, such as tobacco or alcohol.”

Yet, some factors enhance cannabis’ influence on the developing fetus. Dr. Hoffman stated that using several substances may be considerably worse than one alone. Moreover, in one study, cannabis usage with tobacco had doubled the impairing effect on the infant’s capacity to self-soothe compared to newborns from tobacco-only users.

While this outcome was more noticeable in girls, another study observed that tobacco and cannabis co-use led to a more substantial dysregulation of baby boys’ stress response. Cannabis with tobacco-using moms had 35% lower cortisol responsivity and 22% lower responsivity than non-tobacco mixing mothers. 

Why the co-use of tobacco worsens growths in a sex-specific manner remains far unexplored. Still, it highlights the possible problems with using many substances to manage symptoms. Many mothers may use several medications to handle pregnancy-related symptoms such as anxiety, nausea, and sleep. And, Dr. Hoffman suggests that the interplays between all these medicines may carry risks.

The risk to a child from secondhand (passive) marijuana smoke

Once the baby arrives, the risk of cannabis exposure through secondhand (or passive) smoke and breastmilk remains. According to one research, THC and its metabolites remain active in adults in the tiniest amounts from secondhand weed smoke. While this low content isn’t likely to be impactful to a baby, repeated exposure to secondhand smoke can raise over time due to THC’s fat-soluble characteristics and other cannabinoids.

Another study confirmed that despite the low THC transfer by secondhand smoke with 11.3% THC power, it was enough to cause mild individual effects in grown-ups. However, you can minimize these effects by improving room ventilation.

Risk exposure from breast milk

Breast milk is another root of cannabinoid transfer to the newborn. THC can be seen in breast milk for nearly six days after smoking. Nevertheless, in some instances, there’s no shifting of THC in a child at all! It’s unclear what circumstances lead to the transferal of THC in some cases but not others.

Moreover, doctors also noted variability in the level of THC that transfer. One research observed that the breast milk of routine pot-using moms held 2.5% of the 0.1 grams of around 23.2% THC-rich cannabis they sniffed. Besides, researchers found THC within the first 20 minutes of sniffing and peaked around 1 hour after utilizing it. Importantly, the changeability of THC shift across mothers was highly variable, ranging from 0.4% to 8.7%.

We’re trapped in a condition where CBD hasn’t been proven unsafe, nor has it been declared safe.

There are no clear predictors for where people will fall along this spectrum. Still, it is expected that the infant vulnerability dose would be approximately 1,000 times lower than the mother. Whether that’s a notable number to influence the child’s brain development remains unexplained.

CBD products to use during pregnancy

Despite the lack of experimentation on using CBD while pregnant, there are no cases to conclude that it’s unsafe. You won’t require to take anything through your pregnancy apart from nutritious food and mild green teas. However, sometimes you may want relief from the painful symptoms of pregnancy.

Thus, CBD is an excellent alternative to try before using harmful pharmaceutical drugs doctors may suggest in its place. Below are some measures you can follow to keep your risk level minimum when utilizing CBD products. 

  • Consult your doctor before using CBD products in pregnancy.
  • Only use high-quality CBD products.
  • Use CBD products made from isolate only.
  • Start low & go slow.
  • Keep notes on your doses and progress.
  • Keep notes on your improved or adverse symptoms.
  • Analyze the side effects after each dosage.
  • Stop using CBD products in case of adverse effects.

Final Verdict

Despite the risk of carrying cannabinoids to the newborn, there’s no straightforward interpretation of marijuana consumption. Maternal bonding and newborn care can alter by several factors. It includes the mother’s subjective health and overall wellbeing.

Up to 85% of new mothers feel the “baby blues” within several weeks after delivery. Around 15% of women develop clinical postpartum depression within the subsequent year. Insomnia, anxiety, and postpartum pain only add to post-birth complications.

The most efficient and most shielded strategies must be available by balancing risk with advantages. However, there’s developing evidence that these symptoms may be administered with CBD, that cannabinoid’s developmental effects remain considerably less than THC’s well-known effects.

Like many wellness and safety aspects of marijuana, there aren’t any conclusive findings that ensure its safety or abuse. Instead, the actual consequences likely fall somewhere between alarmist opinions perpetuated by medical experts. Despite decades of studies, the effects of marijuana on the developing human brain remain infancy.

CBD products (without THC) can be utilized legally throughout pregnancy, but their safety measure is still unexplored. Many mothers use pot for practical assistance of some bothersome pregnancy side effects. However, it’s essential to understand the mental, physical, and legal uncertainties when making that choice.



The content in this article is for informational purposes only. We do not describe that the products discussed in this article are medicine for any disease. Furthermore, we cannot ensure that information furnished is error-free or complete. Thus, we are not liable for users’ actions and decisions based on this article. We do not endorse any user reported information, cannabis strains, products, producers, or dispensaries. Also, we do not provide any of its views on the usage, benefits, or promotions.

Christopher Andrews
I am Christopher Andrew, the owner of 420 Expert Adviser. I have been in cannabis cultivation for more than ten years, and I'm sharing my experience with you guys using this blog!

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