FDA wants you to know there may be serious risks to using cannabis products, including those containing CBD, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
FDA recently completed an evaluation of some hemp seed-derived food ingredients and had no objections to the use of these ingredients in foods. THC and CBD are found mainly in hemp flowers, leaves, and stems, not in hemp seeds. Hemp seeds can pick up miniscule amounts of THC and CBD from contact with other plant parts, but these amounts are low enough to not raise concerns for any group, including pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
What do we know about the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding?
FDA is studying the effects of CBD use from different angles, such as: (1) the use of CBD-containing products, like food, cosmetics, or supplements, over a person’s entire life; and (2) the effects of using these various products in combination. There are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD.
There is no comprehensive research studying the effects of CBD on the developing fetus, pregnant mother, or breastfed baby. FDA is continuing to collect and study the data on the possible harmful effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. However, based on what we do know, there is significant cause for concern.
Cannabis is a plant of the Cannabaceae family and contains more than eighty biologically active chemical compounds. The most commonly known compounds are THC and CBD. One type of cannabis plant is marijuana, which contains varying levels of THC, the compound that produces the “high” that is often associated with marijuana. Another type of cannabis plant is hemp. Hemp plants contain extremely low amounts of THC. CBD, which does not produce a “high,” can be derived from either marijuana or hemp.
This change can negatively affect sleeping patterns, stress levels, and much more, leading to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia — all of which can be addressed by CBD.
There are even some studies showing CBD safe for small children (not infants) — even in high doses while being used to treat seizure disorders.
1. Sleeping Issues
Have you used CBD while breastfeeding? What was your experience like? Leave your comments below.
It’s at your own discretion and the discretion of your doctor to decide whether or not CBD is the right supplement for you — especially while breastfeeding.
Studies have shown that people taking doses larger than 200 mg of CBD can fall asleep sooner, stay asleep longer, and report feeling more refreshed the following morning than the control group taking nothing to help their sleep.
CBD remains out of the purview of the FDA, leaving each company or brand in control of monitoring the product’s safety. “Some companies are able to afford testing and studies,” says Thomas. “Others aren’t.”
Increased duration of breastfeeding does, however, extend the postpartum period, which may result in fatigue, interrupted sleep, and the emotional pressure that can accompany feeding a little one 24/7. As wonderful as breastfeeding may be, it can also be overwhelming, leaving nursing mothers exhausted and in need of relief; after all, being a source of unconditional comfort is draining. Widely available CBD might seem like a godsend, offering an instant feeling of calm without a hangover or any of the psychoactive affects of marijuana. But here’s the rub: Even though CBD is natural, we don’t yet know how CBD affects a developing baby and child, and what the longterm effects might be to a baby who has been exposed to CBD through breastmilk.
Geary (who notes that as a pediatrician with a license to provide medical marijuana —CBD and THC products—she’s not an anti-marijuana doctor), says using CBD when breastfeeding just isn’t a safe gamble. “During the time of the developing fetus, through until age three years of life, the infant’s brain reaches 80% of its full adult volume. Any unnecessary exposure, especially in those vulnerable first three years, is worth considering very seriously.”
Risks of Using CBD When Breastfeeding
Geary adds, “Every mother’s metabolism is different; the absorption into the blood stream is different, and the actual dosage of the CBD listed is not considered accurate or reliable.” She also brings up a point about the lack of regulation surrounding CBD products. This March, the FDA issued a statement promising to advance regulatory practices of CBD, admitting wide gaps in data and a lack of market transparency. The same report notes, “we are not at a point where we can conclude that unapproved CBD products are safe for use” in lactating women. Thomas adds that for reliable data, we’ll need to evaluate a couple thousand people over at least 15 years. Current data doesn’t meet either of those criteria.
Thomas adds that although CBD can seem like a “pathway to self-care,” it’s only one of many wellness tools. She urges women to get to the “root of the stress or anxiety on the road to recovery.” Asking for help is critical. “When we think of stress and how to mitigate it because life is too much, that becomes a pathway for pain and trauma to embed,” she says. But it’s also an opportunity to do the work necessary to heal. “Reaching for a cure-all,” she says, “helps us turn away from a life we’ve created when we need to be so committed to it right now.”
Ahead, our experts help us sift through what we do know about using CBD when breastfeeding, so nursing mothers can make informed choices.
Try to use nursing sessions as a time to pause and reset, letting the oxytocin that’s released during breastfeeding help you enter a state of calm. Play soothing music or a guided meditation, practice deep breathing, and remember that this stage of life is temporary.