A mother breastfeeding
By Gillian Burkhardt, MD

Is It Safe to Consume Cannabis During Pregnancy?

Adult consumption of cannabis is legal in New Mexico but it is not proven to be safe to consume in pregnancy.

Cannabis was legalized for adult consumption in New Mexico in June 2021. Since then, patients have felt more comfortable talking about how they consume products that contain hemp, cannabinoids (CBD) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Although it’s legal in our state, cannabis consumption is not considered safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding. That includes smoking, vaping, eating or drinking cannabis products and using creams, salves or lotions made from cannabis.

Approximately 1 in 20 women in the United States consume cannabis while pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Though some research suggests cannabis—also known as marijuana, pot or weed—might have some health benefits, we know that smoking of any kind is not good for the lungs or for a developing baby.

The UNM Women’s Health team agrees with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): We recommend pregnant and breastfeeding patients avoid cannabis consumption, and we need more research on how the chemicals and natural elements in cannabis affect patients and their babies.

Possible Effects of Consuming Cannabis

If you are trying to become pregnant, cannabis consumption as often as 3 times per week can interfere with fertility hormones. Heavy use could reduce a man’s sperm count or make your period less regular. Certain cannabis strains and products might also cause side effects such as:

  • Decreased coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lung problems and breathing issues
  • Memory issues
  • Trouble focusing or thinking clearly
  • Trouble sleeping

During pregnancy, THC and other chemicals in cannabis can cross the placenta—the organ that gives the baby blood. This might cause problems for the baby, such as:

  • Anemia
  • Attention problems
  • Higher rates of speech difficulties
  • Increased risk of mental health disorders
  • Low birthweight
  • Pregnancy loss
  • Premature birth

Less research is available on the effects of cannabis consumption while breastfeeding. However, THC and other chemicals can pass to the baby through breast milk. This can lead to issues with a baby’s brain development and motor skills.

Dangers of drinking, smoking, vaping while pregnant

Many women have questions about these habits before or during pregnancy

Cannabis and Morning Sickness

Some dispensaries market cannabis products as a treatment for morning sickness—nausea and vomiting that 70%-80% of pregnant patients experience in the first few months of pregnancy. But there is no evidence proving that cannabis works for morning sickness or whether perceived benefits are worth the risk in pregnancy.

If you are struggling with morning symptoms, ask a doctor or midwife for help. We can recommend safe, proven treatment options, such as:

  • Ginger – Consuming up to 1500 mg total per day speeds up digestion, reducing nausea.
  • Vitamin B6 – Taking 10-25 mg, 3 times per day improves nausea, but not vomiting.
  • Doxylamine Consuming up to 4 tablets per day of this over-the-counter sleep medication reduces vomiting and nausea by blocking certain natural substances.
  • Diclegis® This is the only medication formulated to treat morning sickness that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some health care providers prescribe cannabis and CBD to treat health problems such as epileptic seizures, chronic pain or side effects from cancer treatment. Medical cannabis is not safer than cannabis you can buy in a dispensary, and we do not recommend medical cannabis use during pregnancy.

Cannabis is not proven to be addictive. However, replacing the social or relaxing effects of cannabis can be challenging. If you would like help, talk with your doctor or midwife—we will not judge you. Our goal is to help you achieve a safe, healthy and comfortable pregnancy.

To find out whether you or a loved one might benefit from Ob/Gyn care
Categories: Women's Health