Is CBD safe to use during pregnancy?

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CBD and its impact on the body have been garnering increasing interest over the last few years. This is not surprising considering the research that continues to be published on the many benefits that CBD carries. Some of the perks of using CBD include combating anxiety, boosting the appearance of your skin, and mitigating chronic pain. Many people tout these benefits, however, there is still an ample amount of research that needs to be conducted before we can understand the full impact of CBD on the body. Though the internet is abound with testimonials, it is imperative that those who have sensitive health conditions approach any treatment with extra care. In particular, those who are pregnant and breastfeeding need to pay special attention to anything they consume. Below you’ll find all the information you need to know about CBD oil and pregnancy. 

What are some pregnancy-related discomforts people might experience?

The reason behind why people believe that CBD would be beneficial to pregnant people is because CBD has been shown to combat many of the discomforts that pregnant people face. These symptoms are not exclusive to those who are pregnant but are also shared by many others. This includes nausea and vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. 

CBD oil pregnancy nurturing baby

During pregnancy, the body creates a nurturing environment for your baby. This can have the effect of making you feel very uneasy. Along with the expansion of your midsection, your hormones will fluctuate and cause alterations in your mood. Many people also report swelling in their fingers and ankles, which can be uncomfortable at best, but can sometimes be downright painful. Additionally, some people experience bouts of fatigue. These discomforts are fairly common in most people. However, there are some that are much more extreme. 

Some people report that they endured a weaker bladder while pregnant, while other people suffer from hair loss, changes in body hair growth, and yeast infections. It is important to note that everyone’s body is different, and pregnancy obviously has a substantial effect on your internal processes. For this reason, symptoms may show up in varying ways and it is crucial to remain vigilant and track any changes. 

Should pregnant people avoid CBD?

There are countless studies that show that marijuana use during pregnancy can have disastrous effects on the baby because of the THC cannabinoid. Though hemp-derived CBD contains very little THC—it must contain <0.3% by dry weight—there still remains a small amount of THC. Further, there are simply not enough studies that have been conducted that demonstrate that CBD is safe to use when pregnant. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that those who are pregnant or considering pregnancy should refrain from any use of marijuana or its by-products. 

However, if you consumed a bit of CBD before learning that you are pregnant, you should not panic. Though there is a large body of evidence that shows the harmful impact of marijuana on a developing baby, the research mainly looks at repeated and regular marijuana use.

What are the risks associated with consuming CBD while pregnant and why?

As we’ve mentioned, even the lowest possible dose products can be considered unsafe during pregnancy. Studies show that marijuana use during pregnancy can lead to smaller, underweight babies. For this reason, many governing bodies such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the ACOG as well, warn pregnant people against any kind of marijuana consumption, including the use of by-products. 

In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “strongly advises” against the use of marijuana products during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The agency argues, “Based on what we do know, there is a significant cause for concern […] High doses of CBD in pregnant test animals have caused problems with the reproductive system of developing male fetuses. According to the FDA, the U.S. Surgeon General recently advised consumers that marijuana use during pregnancy may affect fetal development because THC can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream. Additionally, research suggests that the use of marijuana can increase the risk of premature birth and potentially stillbirth. Even after pregnancy, The FDA notes CBD can also be transferred to babies directly through breastmilk.

How does CBD work within the body? How does this affect pregnancy or the fetus?

Much still needs to be discovered about CBD and the way it interacts with the body. What we do know is that CBD works primarily in the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and can help regulate several physiological functions. The ECS is responsible for the processes involved in sleep, mood, appetite, and memory among many others. It is composed of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Experts have identified two main endocannabinoids: anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG). These two endocannabinoids bind to the two main receptors known to reside in the body, CB1, and CB2. CB1 receptors are mainly found in the central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are primarily located in your peripheral nervous system and especially immune cells. Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor in order to activate them and the result will depend on where the receptor is located, and which endocannabinoid binds to it. Once the endocannabinoid binds to a receptor and triggers a response, enzymes move and break it down. 

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The usefulness of CBD is due to the fact that, as a natural substance, it is a phytocannabinoid (much like the endocannabinoids that the body naturally produces). This means that it is able to supplement your body’s store of endocannabinoids. While in a typical human this can have a myriad of potential benefits, for a pregnant person this chemical reaction in the body can be damaging to a not-yet-developed fetus, particularly because the baby is still developing its endocannabinoid system. The lack of research means that there is no way of knowing if the phytocannabinoids bind to their receptors in the same way as they do to adult receptors, if at all. 

What are some natural alternatives to CBD for pregnancy related discomforts?

As mentioned earlier, each person will experience pregnancy and its symptoms in unique ways that are difficult to predict. However, there are some shared discomforts that pregnant people often report like nausea, insomnia, and anxiety. Though it is not advised that you consume CBD while pregnant, there are several home remedies that can help to manage your symptoms so that the experience is tolerable.

CBD and pregnancy woman choosing snack

It might seem counterintuitive, but if you are experiencing nausea during pregnancy it is advised that you eat—even while the thought of eating might make you feel even more ill. Instead of forcing yourself to eat a few large meals, try munching on smaller snacks more often. This ensures that your stomach is never empty, which can aggravate nausea. 

For insomnia, try drinking warm milk and running a bath before bed. This may help you relax. Regardless of how tired you feel, resist taking any sleeping aids. This includes those that brand themselves as natural supplements, along with any over-the-counter medication. If your insomnia persists, ask your doctor about medication that is safe to take while pregnant. As for anxiety, surging hormones during this period will likely make it difficult to manage potentially shifting moods. Having someone to talk with openly about your feelings, such as a therapist or loved ones, might prove to be beneficial and make a significant difference in your mental health.

Conclusion

Both pregnancy and nursing are intense experiences and can certainly take their toll on your body, both mentally and physically. It is incredibly important that you are kind to yourself during this time. This includes making sure that any substance you consume is safe for yourself and your baby. Before trying any treatment plan, be sure to consult your doctor to see if it’s appropriate and safe for you. 

Written by Rahaf Sheikh-Khalil

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