Marijuana Use During Pregnancy

By Wanda Crosby, R.N., C.C.E, VP of Medical Services

 Part 2: Effects to Mom

This is the second in a 2-part series discussing marijuana use during pregnancy.  If you have not read the first blog about how it effects the baby in the womb, we encourage you to read it here:

In today’s blog we’ll talk about how marijuana use affects the baby in the womb.

Are there risks to me as a pregnant woman?
Yes the effects of spice can be mistaken for pre- eclampsia or toxemia.  Spice can also cause heart palpitations, tachycardia (very fast heartbeat), and seizures.  Research has also shown that women who use marijuana have a 2.3 greater chance of having a stillborn.  Finally, marijuana use may negatively affect your labor in a variety of ways.

What kind of time frame would I have to safely use marijuana in my pregnancy?
None at all!  Studies show that marijuana can be harmful for embryonic development as early as 2 weeks – about the time you are realize you may be pregnant.

The use of marijuana has been linked to a condition called anencephaly, where parts of the brain and skull are not developing.  This impact can be identified as early as 1 – 4 weeks in your pregnancy. It also shows that the cognitive and emotional brain centers are affected at 18-22 weeks.

But I’ve heard marijuana is good for relieving nausea. Can’t I take it for morning sickness?
Marijuana might not offer the resolution you think.  Consuming it during pregnancy can also result in Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. The symptoms of this syndrome include severe abdominal pain, unrelenting nausea and intractable vomiting that standard medications will not relieve – the exact situation you were looking to avoid!

In addition, remember that ACOG does not recommend the use of marijuana in pregnancy for any purpose.

What about after my pregnancy can I use marijuana then?
Not if you are planning to breastfeed your baby, as THC is transferred in your breastmilk.  With regular use, THC can actually reach very high levels in the mother’s milk.  Since the baby’s brain is still developing, the effects can still cause damage. Use of marijuana during the first month of life has been found to show a decrease in motor development at age 1.

So how do I stop?
Talk to your prenatal caregiver openly and honestly about your use and your desire to stop. They can recommend ways to ease the withdrawal syndrome that may accompany stopping.  Symptoms of withdrawal may show up as early as 10 hours after stopping usage and last for as long as 48 hours and may include restlessness, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, anorexia, muscle tremor, increase reflexes and changes in heart rate, blood pressure, sweating and diarrhea. You may also experience a compulsion to take repeated hot showers, which seem to relieve some of the other withdrawal symptoms.

We want a healthy pregnancy for you and your child!  As you can see, marijuana poses many potential risks during this critical time for the both of you. If you still have questions or are uncertain about what to do, we encourage you to speak openly and honestly with your prenatal provider.  They are present to help you in getting the best outcome for you and your baby.

 

References:
Marijuana Use in Pregnancy, Nursing for Women’s Health Oct/Nov2015
Marijuana Use during Pregnancy Affect Baby’s Brain, by Tanya Lewis Jan 27,2014
Can Marijuana Use During and after Pregnancy Harm the Baby? NIH /Marijuana
Is it Safe to Use Marijuana During Pregnancy/ The Baby Center Editorial Team/2017

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