CBD Oil for Pregnancy: How Moms Are Using It
More moms are turning to therapeutic products made with CBD, or cannabidiol, and some swear it helped offer relief while they were expecting. Here’s what these moms—and experts—say about CBD during pregnancy.
December 9, 2018
Touted for offering a bevy of benefits, from pain relief to stress management, CBD, or cannabidiol, is having a real moment. The component of either a marijuana or hemp plant is non-psychoactive, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)—which only comes from marijuana—and is popping up in therapeutic products all over the internet and country. From drinking CBD mocktails as an alternative to wine to caring for sore muscles with a CBD salve or soaking in a tub with a CBD-lace bath bomb, moms everywhere are loving its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsant, and antidepressant properties.
These properties are research-proven. Clinical research has shown that CBD, which is generally taken orally as a tincture or in an edible form, can be therapeutically useful for managing anxiety and depression, chronic pain, sleep disorders, and seizure disorders. There’s also clinical evidence that CBD can be effective in suppressing nausea and vomiting, both symptoms commonly encountered by expectant moms. So, it’s no surprise that some pregnant women are getting on-board with, or simply curious about, CBD use.
What Moms Say
Maggie Frank, a mom who is also the National Educator for PlusCBD Oil, says she’s seen the product “used by women during pregnancy to help with a wide range of complaints including morning sickness, stress and anxiety, sleeplessness, food aversions as well as the aches, pains and cramps that accompany pregnancy for many.”
When Frank herself was expecting in 2015, prior to joining the company, she says she suffered from hypermesis gravitum (HG), a condition marked by chronic, severe morning sickness. “I was getting sick 20-30 times a day, was unable to nourish myself or my baby, and was constantly flirting with dehydration,” she tells Parents.com. “The medicine typically prescribed for this has a slew of potential side effects, so I refused it. My symptoms actually got worse with each passing month, to a point where my doctor was recommending bed rest in the fourth month.”
That’s when she says she started researching and learned about CBD. She was so intrigued that she discussed it with her doctor who she says “didn’t have an opinion either way, other than it didn’t seem like it would be worse than the pharmaceutical’s risks, and we needed to figure something out fast.”
Frank says she started with 3 mg of PlusCBDOil Green peppermint spray, and got relief, the very first day. “It was like someone flipped off the switch that was making me feel sick at all times,” she explains. “I was once again able to move, sleep and eat without feeling the need to vomit. Even my over sensitivity to smells dissipated!” She says that over the course of her pregnancy, she also experienced a “reduction in stress and anxiety levels, better mood, more patience, better sleep, and less aches and pains.”
Like Frank, Jennifer Farris, a health coach, yoga instructor, and mom who gave birth to her son just this past September, attests to the benefit of CBD use during pregnancy. “CBD oils noticeably reduced my anxiety during pregnancy and made it easy to fall asleep,” she tells Parents.com. “They also helped lessen joint pain with all the changes in my body during pregnancy. I used Sunday Scaries CBD Gummies, and their products are third-party lab tested to ensure there are zero traces of THC.”
What the Experts Say
The fact is that many—if not most—ob-gyns who would express concern and hesitate to recommend CBD use during pregnancy, in part due to the existing body of research, which is limited and has stated that cannabinoids could be harmful to both moms and their babies.
“The concern with phytocannabinoid/CBD supplementation and pregnancy is due to the unknown,” Frank notes. “We currently don’t have long-term research as to what happens years down the road as a result of utilizing hemp extracts in utero. Any woman using phytocannabinoids products should be aware of this and make her decision accordingly, preferably with her doctor.”
Felice Gersh, MD, ob-gyn and founder/director of the Integrative Medical Practice of Irvine in Irvine, California corroborates that experts’ concern is related to lacking data and “the fact that production is poorly regulated in most states.” While that remains to be the case, she advises her pregnant patients to avoid using CBD.
That said, Congress is poised to lift a federal hemp ban this month, that, according to The Hill, “will for the first time allow lawmakers to develop and impose best manufacturing practices and standards for this nascent industry—policies that will ultimately lead to a safer and better-quality product for consumers.”
The social, political, and scientific turning of the tide may ultimately reshape experts’ take on CBD for expectant moms. In the meantime, women are definitely advised to work with their health care provider to create a safe, healthy treatment plan that is best for them.
CBD and Pregnancy: Can You Use CBD While Pregnant?
CBD and pregnancy appear to be a perfect match. The endless pain, nausea, stress, and irritability of pregnancy are just a few obstacles women face during their nine-month journey.
Given that CBD potentially treats all of the above symptoms, it’s unsurprising that many women use CBD while pregnant. But is CBD safe? Everything has risks – including CBD – but the stakes are much higher when a baby is involved.
So can you use CBD while pregnant, or is it too risky for a developing fetus? Before you try, it’s crucial to understand the risks and benefits of CBD use during pregnancy.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for “cannabidiol,” a prominent cannabinoid found in the Cannabis sativa L. plant – also referred to as “marijuana” or “hemp,” depending on the THC content.
CBD and THC have similar health benefits, but CBD’s most significant selling point is the lack of intoxicating effects. CBD interacts with our bodies without directly triggering the same receptors as THC.
This significant difference makes CBD a better choice for daytime use, allowing people to improve symptoms and daily function without being hampered by THC.
Initially limited to oil, hemp-derived CBD is now available in a wide range of different products, like vapes, edibles including CBD gummies, drinks, creams, hemp joints, and topicals.
What Are Some Benefits of CBD Oil?
Some benefits of CBD oil may include pain relief, relaxation, appetite stimulation, mental clarity, and more.
However, aside from certain forms of epilepsy, the FDA has yet to acknowledge CBD’s other potential therapeutic uses.
Here are a few noteworthy ones.
- Anxiety and Depression: a 2014 study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that CBD acts on the serotonin receptors to help regulate mood in animal subjects.
- Epilepsy: high doses of CBD are proven to treat rare, severe forms of childhood epilepsy. One 2019 study in Molecules found the effects of CBD reduce neural excitability and synaptic transmission by acting on the serotonin and GPR55 receptors.
- Inflammation: according to a 2019 publication in Antioxidants, CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects may come from its interaction with the PPARS receptors.
- Pain: the Antioxidants study above also explored various uses for the PPARS receptors, such as pain regulation. However, a 2020 experiment published in the Journal of Pain Research suggests that CBD dulls the TRPV1 “vanilloid” receptors, reducing pain signals.
- Sleep: a 2020 examination of existing data from Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience noted that CBD’s indirect activity on the CB1 endocannabinoid receptor may help regulate sleep.
Why Some Pregnant Women Use CBD Oil
Some pregnant women use CBD oil to alleviate the many related symptoms. Moms often report using cannabis (CBD or THC) helps relieve pregnancy-related issues like:
- Morning sickness
- Aches and pains
- Gastrointestinal problems (bloating and gas)
However, while the short-term effects are undeniably positive, we have little research on CBD’s impact on the human reproductive system or pregnancy. Some of the scientific community sees this trend as a cause for concern and strongly advises against using CBD while pregnant.
“Perceived Lack of Risk”
Some argue that cannabis and cannabinoid extracts are unsafe, while others feel the opposite way.
The truth lies in between – we don’t know where, and that’s the problem. Dr. Katie Toft, the clinical director at Premier OBGYN of Minnesota, says, “a perceived lack of risk may be contributing. Changing social attitudes are contributing as well.”
Expectant moms focus on the beneficial effects of CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. Consequently, they put themselves in a false sense of security to experiment with CBD freely.
From over-the-counter to prescription medications, developing fetuses don’t respond well to many types of drugs. In some cases, women may have to stop taking certain medicines during pregnancy.
Regardless, this limitation can make it hard to find relief from the unpleasant pregnancy side effects.
CBD seems like the perfect solution. It’s a natural extract considered safe and non-addictive by organizations like the WHO.
With that kind of endorsement, using CBD during pregnancy looks like an excellent option.
Is It Safe To Use CBD While Pregnant?
No, it isn’t safe to use CBD while pregnant – at least according to medical experts. But CBD could also be perfectly safe. Researchers don’t want to give cannabidiol their stamp of approval for pregnancy without concrete supporting evidence.
So to nobody’s surprise, consumers and experts are sharply divided on the issue.
Considering the FDA’s rather turbulent history with (or perhaps against) hemp-derived CBD, it’s not surprising that they oppose it. “FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding,” they say.
“FDA wants you to know there may be serious risks to using cannabis products, including those containing CBD, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.”
American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is also concerned about our lack of data. They warn that women who use “…cannabinoid-containing products to treat a medical condition or to treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy should be counseled about the lack of safety data and possible adverse effects of THC in these products on a developing fetus.”
Hemp-derived CBD can still contain trace amounts of THC, even if it’s broad-spectrum or isolate. Some CBD vendors aren’t thorough enough to remove all the THC from their products.
The Centers for Disease Control also has an unfavorable opinion on CBD and pregnancy. They explain: “Using marijuana while breastfeeding can allow harmful chemicals to pass from the mother to the infant through breast milk or secondhand smoke exposure. To limit potential risk to the infant, breastfeeding mothers should be advised not to use marijuana or products containing cannabidiol (CBD) in any form while breastfeeding.”
Support for Using CBD During Pregnancy
Despite the big organizations warning about using CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding, CBD’s reputation precedes it. We know CBD can treat rare severe forms of epilepsy, and there’s plenty of preliminary evidence suggesting other beneficial effects of CBD.
But with little data, most of CBD’s support in this regard comes from everyday users. They don’t agree with the FDA, AAP, or CDC.
We’ll cover some testimonies shortly. For now, let’s look at some research.
What Experts Say About Using CBD Oil While Pregnant
Experts don’t support CBD use in pregnancy, again due to the lack of data. It doesn’t help that the results they see are contradictory.
For example, a June 2010 study by Gelder et al. concluded that cannabis use during pregnancy did not correlate with low birth weight or premature birth.
Meanwhile, Gunn et al.’s April 2016 data analysis determined that cannabinoid consumption during pregnancy can increase the risk of anemia and low birth weight.
Are We Doing it Wrong?
A 2016 publication in Obstetrics & Gynecology reviewed 31 studies that had found unfavorable links between “marijuana” and pregnancy. Surprisingly, researchers never considered tobacco use in their papers.
When adjusted for smoking and other variables, cannabis isn’t an independent threat to fetal health.
What Pregnant Moms Say About Using CBD Oil
Pregnant moms who use CBD oil appear to enjoy its benefits and don’t notice any prenatal issues. For instance, according to Reddit user r/m-v-0_0:
I take CBD oil about twice a week for third-trimester uterus discomfort and painful contractions. It works great. I don’t feel high at all, and my baby continue[s] to do great.”
Similarly, Reddit user r/brookebuilder says:
“Use it! Love it. GREAT for my anxiety since I can’t take my diazepam and also helps me sleep!”
One thing worth noting is that most of the responses were hesitant, meaning posters were either apprehensive or completely against CBD during pregnancy.
Is CBD Oil Safe To Use While Breastfeeding?
CBD is not safe to use while breastfeeding, according to health experts. The CDC believes THC can appear in breast milk.
The organization’s stance on CBD is more theoretical. Rather than citing the potential risks of CBD itself, they mention the dangers of THC traces and contaminants in these products.
Why It Can Be Risky To Use CBD During Pregnancy?
It can be risky to use CBD use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. But since we have contradictory information, there’s no telling what – if any – risks there are. Using CBD in any form while pregnant could be a helpful tool or a double-edged sword.
Not Enough Research
We all know the old saying, “knowledge is power.” Unfortunately, we lack the knowledge – and therefore the power – to determine if CBD is safe, how much you need to take, and whether it can cause short-term or long-term harm to a developing fetus.
But it’s not just the lack of conclusive research that has us in the dark.
In an unregulated market, quality is a serious issue. Many companies make excellent CBD products, but even they could slip up. Meanwhile, some hemp CBD extracts are poorly made, barely tested (if at all), and contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, fungi, and other contaminants.
In other words, you might not know what you’re buying.
Summary: Can You Take CBD While Pregnant?
Yes, you can take CBD while pregnant. Whether you should is another story. So far, the FDA, CDC, and the AAP don’t recommend pregnant women to consume CBD. However, this could change with conclusive large-scale human evidence.
If you’re pregnant, it’s best to speak with a doctor or OBGYN before taking any drug or supplement, including CBD. Weigh the risks and benefits since they might impact your baby’s long-term health.