CBD is the new cure-all, miracle drug. If you suffer from a serious condition, like epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease, CBD might all but eliminate your symptoms; then again, if you have a mild skin condition or slight social anxiety, CBD could be right for you, too. Because CBD isn’t psychoactive and doesn’t seem to produce any negative effects, almost everyone has tried using it to manage some symptom or other.
But what if you are pregnant? Pregnant people are much more restricted in the compounds they can take in because any toxin has the potential of harming the growing baby. In fact, pregnant women are discouraged from partaking of relatively normal medicines, like ibuprofen, as well as common foods like fish and alcohol. On the other hand, pregnancy is filled with uncomfortable symptoms, from nausea to back pain, and CBD could provide much-needed relief. So, what does the research say about CBD and pregnancy?
The Long Answer: We Don’t Know
For most of the 20th century, research on cannabis (and by extension, cannabinoids) has been all but impossible. Because of state and federal cannabis bans, researchers interested in studying the drug were extremely restricted in where they could procure funding, supplies, and subjects, and considering that marijuana use was illegal anyway, much of their findings were not exactly applicable to large portions of the population. Only after states began legalizing medicinal and recreational use of the drug did scientists start to gain better access.
Yet, even though more money and effort are devoted to understanding marijuana and its effects than ever before, we still aren’t terribly certain how the drug affects fetal development. We know the endocannabinoid system, or the system that is responsible for most of cannabis’s effects, develops early in pregnancy, meaning cannabinoids in the mother’s system could be binding to receptors in the fetus; then again, the placenta might effectively filter out cannabinoids as toxins, preventing them from reaching fetal tissues.
There isn’t enough data surrounding CBD use during pregnancy — and there probably isn’t anyone devoted to studying the phenomenon — to say for certain whether CBD use affects the growing baby. Because CBD-only products are relatively new, it could be decades before any research can conclusively say one way or the other.
The Short Answer: Probably Skip It
Considering that the pain-relieving, relaxing effects of CBD are mild — if they exist at all, which remains under debate — you might just as well pass on CBD products until after the baby is born. By then, you might be able to buy recreational marijuana legally in Arizona, New Jersey, and other states with ballot initiatives in 2020. However, you should be aware that cannabinoids can boost female libido, so you should have a birth control plan in place as soon as your current one comes out.
The Shortest Answer: Avoid Weed Entirely
Some doctors believe there is a link between marijuana use during pregnancy and complications like low birth weight and premature birth, but no studies have conclusively demonstrated this. Perhaps more distressing, some nascent research indicates that THC could inhibit proper brain development; in fact, THC is considered by some to be a developmental neurotoxin. Children subjected to high amounts of THC in the womb seem to struggle with memory, attention, impulse control, and academic performance later in life. Even if you purchase CBD products, you could be introducing small amounts of THC into your bloodstream, which you share with your fetus. To avoid THC, you would need to be especially careful regarding the CBD products you buy — CBD isolates, only — which takes time, energy, and a big budget, and even then, your CBD might contain toxic ingredients like heavy metals or pesticides.
Pregnancy is uncomfortable, to say the absolute least. Still, unless you get the go-ahead from your doctor, you probably shouldn’t try to ease your pregnancy pains with over-the-counter CBD. Not only can you not be certain what your CBD products contain, but no one knows exactly what CBD is doing to your baby. Instead of saving up for extra-pure CBD isolate to experience mild relief, you would do better to use that money on cute baby clothes and maybe a college fund. Then, if your pregnancy symptoms become unbearable, you can get known baby-safe treatments from your doctor.