CBD Oil: Is It Safe to Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding? All What to Expect content that addresses health or safety is medically reviewed by a team of vetted health professionals. Our It is best to refrain from taking CBD while pregnant. Learn more about why you may want to hold off on taking CBD until after baby arrives.
CBD Oil: Is It Safe to Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding?
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The use of CBD oil is a popular trend, touted as a remedy for everything from anxiety to nausea. But since it comes from the cannabis plant, is it really okay to try if you’re pregnant?
CBD oil seems to be all the rage these days as a treatment for a whole range of ailments, including stress and pain. The growing acceptance and legality of marijuana in many states has unleashed a flood of CBD oil products on the market. You can find CBD-spiked lattes, gums, candies, lotions and beauty products almost everywhere, with fans hyping their healing powers.
But none have been approved by the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) or regulated in terms of dosage, formulation or method of delivery. And though CBD oil, which comes from the cannabis plant, doesn’t seem to be addictive, it has not been shown to be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
What is CBD oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting the essence with a neutral, usually edible oil. Unlike THC, pot’s most active ingredient — and the one that gets you high — CBD is touted for its medicinal properties but doesn’t give you a buzz.
People use CBD oil by putting a few drops under the tongue, applying it to the skin or inhaling a vapor made from the oil. Proponents say it has a calming effect that helps with stress and sleep.
What is CBD oil used for?
Most people who use CBD oil are seeking relief from insomnia, pain, anxiety, depression or nausea. While there is research on its use as a treatment for a variety of more serious conditions, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, anxiety and even traumatic brain injury, doctors warn that it can interfere with other medications and may cause side effects including depression.
Is CBD oil safe to use during pregnancy?
While there’s scant research on the use of CBD oil during pregnancy, experts say to avoid it.
More on Pot, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should not use marijuana or any of its byproducts, including medical marijuana.
Studies show that marijuana use during pregnancy can lead to smaller babies with a lower birth weight and other unwanted outcomes.For that reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), ACOG and the U.S. surgeon general all warn pregnant women not to smoke or vape marijuana or use any byproducts.
Don’t be alarmed if you sipped a CBD-spiked soda before learning you’re pregnant, however (but do mention it to your practitioner). Though there is evidence that the active ingredients in marijuana can harm a developing baby, the existing research has looked mainly at repeated, regular pot use among pregnant women.
If you are pregnant and tempted to try CBD oil, the best thing to do is to discuss it with your doctor. He or she can offer other, pregnancy-safe ways to improve your symptoms, and advise you of all the potential risks and side effects of CBD oil — both for you and the baby.
What are the possible risks or downsides of using CBD oil while pregnant?
Comprehensive research on healthy pregnant women and CBD doesn’t yet exist. But even the lowest-dose products aren’t considered safe during pregnancy.
Research shows that when moms smoke or eat marijuana, chemicals cross the placenta and reach the fetus. Exposure to marijuana could disrupt normal fetal brain development and increase your risk of giving birth to a smaller or even stillbirth baby, although there is no data to suggest CBD oil alone carries the same risks.
Nonetheless, CBD oil is a new and largely unregulated market. There are scores of case reports of products marketed as “pure” CBD contaminated with substances you want nowhere near a growing baby, including THC, pesticides, toxic metals and bacteria.
Is CBD oil safe to use while breastfeeding? What are some of the risks?
While there are no studies on the use of CBD oil use while breastfeeding, experts advise against that too. Studies show that chemicals ingested during marijuana use can be passed through breast milk, potentially affecting your little one (though there are no studies that directly show how CBD oil could affect a nursing baby).
Another reason to skip CBD oil while nursing: Using it could make you feel sleepy or slightly intoxicated, so you risk having impaired judgement while caring for your child.
What are alternatives to CBD oil when I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
During pregnancy, your body creates a warm, nurturing environment for your baby — and a cascade of uncomfortable symptoms for you.
Surging hormones, shifting fluids and a burgeoning bump in your midsection can cause nausea (in the morning and anytime, especially during the first trimester), insomnia, moodiness and anxiety. Coping with drugs or alcohol isn’t safe, but there are a range of options to manage your symptoms and help you feel better:
One surprising strategy for nipping nausea in the bud is to eat, even if the thought of food turns your stomach. Try munching on smaller snacks and meals more often, and make sure your stomach never gets completely empty (that’s when you’re more likely to retch).
Keep plenty of food on hand. Ask someone who isn’t dizzy with nausea to run to the store and stock your kitchen with tummy-soothers like plain crackers, bananas and soups, and make sure you keep something to nosh on by your bedside.
Avoid highly spiced, fried or greasy foods, which can upset your stomach even if you aren’t pregnant. Some moms-to-be swear by ginger — in candies or steeped and sipped as tea. Others say crunching ice or sucking fresh lemon juice helps soothe their stomachs.
If these and other drug-free queasiness cures don’t do the trick, ask your doctor about prescription medication for severe nausea. And remember — there is no evidence that marijuana in any form is helpful with morning sickness.
If you’ve already tried warm milk, bubble baths and foot massages to soothe you to sleep during your pregnancy, you can ask your doctor about over-the-counter or even prescription medications that are safe to take.
No matter how exhausted you feel, don’t take any sleep aid — including herb teas or “natural” supplements — without consulting your practitioner.
Anxiety and depression
Moodiness, irrational fears and crying fits can hit when you least expect them, even if you’re thrilled about your pregnancy. Surging hormones, your changing body, social isolation and lack of sleep can all conspire to make you feel worried, stressed or down.
What to do? Studies suggest talk therapy, light therapy and making sure you take care of yourself can help alleviate your feelings. Share how you feel about with your practitioner, and don’t take any medications without her okay. Some antidepressants are safe for use during pregnancy.
Carrying a baby and caring for a newborn are intense experiences, both emotionally and physically. But don’t succumb to the urge to try CBD oil. There’s evidence to suggest it isn’t safe for you or your baby, and there are plenty of other ways to help you navigate the less pleasant side effects of pregnancy and the postpartum stage.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
Can I Use CBD While Pregnant?
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR Family and Scary Mommy, among others.
Verywell Family articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and family healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Andrea Chisolm, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN who has taught at both Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. She has over 20 years of clinical experience and is currently is in practice at Cody Regional Health in Cody, Wyoming.
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Pregnancy comes with a slew of unpleasant side effects, like extreme nausea or persistent backaches, but many common medications are no longer safe once you have a baby on the way. If you’re on the hunt for something natural to cure your morning sickness, a strained lower back, or even pregnancy-related anxiety, you may start to wonder about CBD.
As wonderful as this substance may seem, it is not safe to use during pregnancy. Although there isn’t enough research yet to say for sure what could go wrong, there are a few potential concerns to know about. And until we know more, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid CBD while pregnant.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a component of the cannabis plant. CBD has many therapeutic benefits, such as helping to alleviate chronic pain, anxiety, and depression, insomnia, and nausea and vomiting. There are a few choices for how to take CBD, including topicals, gum, sublingual drops, and gel caps.
CBD won’t make you stoned, though. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another well-known component of the cannabis plant, CBD does not intoxicate. Many people prefer to use CBD because it gives them the benefits of cannabis without the associated “high.” In general, you can get CBD anywhere in the country, since it’s federally legal.
Is It Safe to Use CBD During Pregnancy?
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says it “strongly advises against” taking CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. You should avoid CBD during pregnancy, largely because its effects on a developing fetus are simply unknown. We do know that THC can enter a developing baby’s brain, so there is reason to believe CBD may be able to as well.
“There is the potential risk that [CBD] could affect embryo implantation and promote miscarriages,” cautions Felice Gersh, MD, a California-based OB/GYN and award-winning author of two books on fertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
The FDA is still collecting data on the exact risks of taking CBD during pregnancy, but until we hear any different, you should not consider CBD as a safe option when you are expecting.
Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking CBD while pregnant.
What If I Use CBD Before Realizing I’m Pregnant?
If you regularly use CBD, or you just happened to try it out before you got that positive pregnancy test, don’t panic. According to Marco Mouanness, MD, an OB/GYN and fertility expert at the Rejuvenating Fertility Center in New York City, you are probably fine. Along with discontinuing your CBD use, he advises reaching out to your OB/GYN so they can monitor you as necessary.
Since we really don’t know enough about CBD’s effects on pregnancy and a developing fetus, we have to rely on what we know about THC, since they are both cannabis components. Animal studies show a connection between THC and early miscarriage, but Dr. Mouanness points out that if you get a positive pregnancy test, you haven’t miscarried. As long as you stop using CBD right away, the earlier CBD use won’t cause miscarriage.
In some cases, your OB/GYN may prescribe progesterone to offset any potential miscarriage risk, notes Dr. Gersh. “Taking supplemental progesterone may provide some protection from the effects of CBD exposure early in pregnancy. [as it] sometimes helps prevent miscarriage.”
CBD is not safe to take during pregnancy. There are a few potential risks to know about.
Potential Risk of Miscarriage
Animal studies have found a link between CBD use and early miscarriage. While animal studies do not directly translate to humans, you may want to stop taking CBD as a precaution if you are actively trying to conceive.
Potential Reproductive Harm
Another animal study linked CBD use in pregnancy with lower sperm production in male offspring. So, if you give birth to a boy, there could be a risk to his future reproductive health. Again, results from animal studies do not always carry over to humans. However, it is best to play it safe.
Worsening of Pregnancy-Related Side Effects
Many people like CBD because of its minimal side effects. However, some people experience tiredness or diarrhea when using CBD. These side effects could negatively affect your pregnancy. No one wants to be even more tired than pregnancy already makes a person, and diarrhea may lead to dehydration—a dangerous state when pregnant.
When Can I Resume Using CBD?
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you should continue to hold off on CBD use. “CBD. will cross into the breast milk and go to the baby,” warns Dr. Gersh.
There is some evidence that CBD in breastmilk may negatively affect infant motor development. And since it stays in your milk for a while, this isn’t something you can “pump and dump.” “Some studies have shown that CBD oil derivatives can be found in breastmilk for up to six days after use,” Dr. Mouanness points out.
Once you have fully weaned your baby from the breast, it is safe to start using CBD again. At this point, there is no longer any risk to your child. There are pros and cons to taking CBD, but those are up to you to discuss with a doctor once you’re no longer sustaining your child with your body.
Pregnancy Safe Alternatives
If you are seeking relief from certain pregnancy symptoms, there are a few natural remedies that may help.
Ginger is an ancient remedy proven to help with nausea and vomiting. Dr. Gersh notes that you can consume ginger in any of its forms, including candied, pickled, or as a tea, to get the positive effects.
If you can’t get the sleep you need, magnesium, an essential vitamin, may help. Magnesium has a calming effect when taken regularly, which, along with promoting good sleep, may help combat anxiety and depression. Taking a magnesium supplement blocks pain receptors, so it may also decrease headaches and other aches and pains.
Dr. Mouanness notes that vitamin B can significantly reduce pregnancy-induced nausea. However, he also points out that you should not take any more vitamin B than the amount already included in your prenatal vitamins unless directed to by a doctor, since we don’t know enough about its effects on a developing fetus.
Be sure to consult with a healthcare provide before starting any new supplements or medications.
A Word From Verywell
CBD has many benefits, but the possible risks to a developing fetus make it unsafe to use during pregnancy. Miscarriage and effects on future fertility or infant motor development are possibly related to its use, and until we learn more, the risk is not worth it.
That doesn’t mean you have to suffer through uncomfortable or unbearable pregnancy side effects, though. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an OB/GYN, midwife, or healthcare provider for ideas on how to safely treat your symptoms.
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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