Studies present scientific evidence about how CBD oil may help relieve pain, anxiety, depression, nausea, and other pregnancy-related issues. Learn more. CBD Oil and Pregnancy: Safety & Efficacy For Maternity Pregnancy can be both a beautiful and uncomfortable experience. Many expecting mothers experience cramping, insomnia, anxiety, morning
CBD Oil and Morning Sickness – August 2022
Why Some Women May Be Thinking of Taking CBD During Pregnancy
There are studies that present scientific evidence about how CBD oil may help relieve pain , anxiety, depression , nausea , and other pregnancy-related issues.
The 2011 study that was conducted on animals demonstrates the regulation of nausea and vomiting by the manipulation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) ( 2 ) .
The results of the aforementioned study revealed the antiemetic effects of cannabinoids in response to a toxic challenge. Cannabidiol (CBD), the primary non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, was shown to suppress nausea and vomiting within a limited dose range.
However, there has been no long-term scientific research on humans exploring the efficacy and safety of CBD oil, as well as risks and side effects of CBD use in pregnant and breastfeeding women. Neither is there a study that proves that maternal CBD during pregnancy is dangerous to either mother or baby, or both. As with all medications during pregnancy, risk/benefit discussions need to be discussed with a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ACOG, and the U.S. General Surgeon have warned women against using marijuana and its byproducts, including medical marijuana, during pregnancy.
According to a 2005 study published in the journal Canadian Family Physician , as a baby’s brain is still forming, THC may affect brain development ( 3 ) .
A 2018 clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that THC , a psychoactive cannabis compound, crosses the placenta and is excreted into breast milk in small quantities ( 4 ) .
CBD is not the same as marijuana. However, the studies mentioned above show how marijuana can affect the baby’s brain and the mother’s milk.
Lack of Research on CBD Use During Pregnancy
Most experts are hesitant to recommend CBD to pregnant women despite the positive anecdotal reports that abound on CBD use during pregnancy. The hesitation comes entirely from the limited research available on the topic.
The lack of pregnancy-specific research is typical when it comes to health supplements. Still, many supplements that are believed to be safe and effective are generally avoided due to the lack of substantial evidence to support their safe use.
There are several possible reasons why research on CBD use during pregnancy is lacking:
- It is difficult to get research on pregnant patients approved.
The research parameters of any study or investigation, especially on human subjects, requires the approval of a professional ethics board known as Investigational Review Boards. These boards are strict when it comes to pregnancy and would often deny any research requests if a substance has not been proven safe in non-pregnant people through other studies.
- The complexity of pregnancy makes it challenging to account for all the variables of the study.
Pregnancy is a complex chemical process that affects women differently. Every pregnancy is a unique experience, and the symptoms may be different for each pregnancy, as well.
Thus, a supplement or remedy that could work with one pregnant woman might not work for another. This variable makes it difficult to interpret the data into something conclusive.
- The best research takes place over extended periods and often involves a large number of participants or sample size.
Clinical studies for determining the safety of a health supplement like CBD often needs to be done over several years. This process is tedious and expensive.
A single double-blind, randomized clinical trial can cost several million dollars and at least ten years to complete. Some institutions may pay for research like this. However, as of yet, no group has studied the effects of CBD alone on pregnancy.
Relief from nausea and vomiting is one of the many reasons why a pregnant mother may want to try CBD. There are anecdotal reports that promote CBD as a remedy for typical pregnancy symptoms, such as headaches, muscle cramping, abdominal pain, insomnia, anxiety, and nausea.
Still, there is no evidence to support the safety of maternal CBD use during pregnancy. Neither are there studies available to prove or disprove the safety of this compound on the developing fetus.
Considering the lack of research and clinical trials on CBD oil and pregnancy, most physicians, gynecologists, and other healthcare providers tend to dissuade pregnant women from using CBD products unless standard remedies fail for intractable nausea and vomiting of pregnancy known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
What is Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is also referred to as nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP). It is a common medical condition that affects 50% to 80% of pregnant women.
NVP can have a significant impact on a woman’s quality of life, whether its symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe.
NVP indications can vary from mild to severe and can happen at any time during the day or night. Symptoms can include retching, which may or may not be accompanied by vomiting, nausea, and dry heaves.
NVP typically manifests between the 4 and 9 weeks of pregnancy, and peaks between 7 and 12 weeks. In most cases, symptoms go away when a woman’s pregnancy reaches between 12 and 16 weeks. However, up to 15% of women continue to have symptoms until the 20th week of pregnancy or until the baby’s delivery.
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is the most severe type of NVP, and it affects up to 3% of pregnant women. HG is a medical condition characterized by severe nausea and constant vomiting, which leads to dehydration and weight loss . Women with HG may require hospitalization.
If NVP is affecting a pregnant woman’s ability to sleep, eat, and perform her daily activities, a consultation with her healthcare provider is advisable.
NVP symptoms that first start at the 10th week of pregnancy or later may be due to other causes. They should be discussed with a medical professional as well.
NVP Due to Medical Conditions Other Than Pregnancy
Up to 85% of pregnant women experience symptoms, such as burping, burning pain in the chest, belching, burping, or nausea. Most of these symptoms manifest during the first trimester of pregnancy.
However, some NVP symptoms may be indications of other medical conditions like heartburn, indigestion, or acid reflux. In some cases, the symptoms are caused by Helicobacter pylori, a bacterial infection that has been linked to HG.
Experts recommend testing for this bacterium, especially for women with a history of severe HG or NVP. A woman who is positive for this bacterium can be treated during her pregnancy.
CBD as Anti-Nausea
In a 2018 review , the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that CBD is generally well-tolerated with an excellent safety profile, and adverse effects may be a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and a patient’s existing medications ( 5 ) .
As an antiemetic, CBD may also be an effective cure for both nausea and vomiting produced by chemotherapy or other therapeutic treatments, as indicated in a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology ( 6 ) .
A study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology in 2015 demonstrates how CBD controls nausea by influencing the serotonin receptors ( 7 ) .
The results of the same study also suggest that CBD decreases the release of serotonin, reducing the body’s stimulation of the vomiting controls in the brain.
CBD may come in the form of an edible , tincture, or salve, and they may either be ingested or applied topically.
Marijuana for Morning Sickness: Is it Safe?
Studies on the use of CBD for morning sickness may be lacking and inconclusive, but can marijuana help with morning sickness?
Marijuana plants and hemp plants are different varieties of the Cannabis sativa species. Both varieties contain varying amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
If the hemp plant contains over 0.3 percent THC, it is technically considered a marijuana plant.
Marijuana is a cannabis plant that contains substantial amounts of THC, which is the psychoactive component primarily responsible for inducing a euphoric and intoxicating effect on the user.
Marijuana’s recreational, as well as medicinal use, continues to gain widespread and legal support in the United States. The substance has also been proposed as a potential treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum.
A 2014 study , which was conducted by researchers from the Hawai’i State Department of Health in Honolulu, HI, found that women who reported marijuana use during pregnancy were more likely to report experiencing severe nausea and vomiting compared with those not experiencing these severe symptoms ( 8 ) .
In the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, a 2006 survey of medicinal cannabis use among childbearing women was presented. The survey assessed the patterns of cannabis use in pregnancy and efficacy against morning sickness ( 9 ) .
Results of the above-mentioned survey revealed that 51% of the women using marijuana during their pregnancy reported using it for the relief of nausea and vomiting, and 92% of those women reported that marijuana was effective for those symptoms.
While the use of marijuana is being hailed on social media as a safe and effective treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), there are no known implications or recommendations at this time for its use during pregnancy. ACOG reiterated this fact in its Committee Opinion in 2015 ( 10 ) .
Interestingly, none of the states with legal medicinal marijuana laws list pregnancy as a contraindication for recommending or dispensing medicinal marijuana.
Marijuana Use and Pregnancy: What Research Says
CBD is different from marijuana, but when dealing with morning sickness, both are not recommended by experts.
In a clinical report published in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) journal, researchers provided data on the prevalence of marijuana use among pregnant and lactating women. Several state-specific surveys revealed that the rate of marijuana use among pregnant women is on the rise, and the results elicit serious concerns ( 11 ) .
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that women who are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant should avoid cannabis use. The agency says that chemicals in marijuana, specifically tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cause many health complications in newborn babies, including still or low birth weight.
CDC cited several research and studies that reiterate how marijuana passes through one’s system and harm the baby’s development.
The research was conducted in 2011 by doctors from the Cain Foundation Laboratories, Jan & Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital. They examined the lasting impacts of prenatal cannabis exposure (PME) demonstrates that prenatally cannabis-exposed children exhibit cognitive deficits, which implies that maternal cannabis consumption has hindered the proper maturation of the baby’s brain ( 12 ) .
In another 21011 study on PME, with data collected between 1982 and 1985, researchers found a relationship between PME and delinquent behavior ( 13 ) . The results were published in the Neurotoxicology and Teratology Journal.
The researchers concluded that an intervention to stop marijuana use during pregnancy would decrease the rates of delinquency in the offspring and may help children with high levels of depressive symptoms or attention deficits.
Pediatric Research published a 2012 study that examined the association between cannabis use before and during pregnancy and birth outcomes. Results showed that cannabis use in pregnancy was associated with low birth weight, preterm labor, admission to the neonatal intensive care unit, and small for gestational age ( 14 ) .
“We have to get behind the message that marijuana is on the same level as smoking or alcohol use during pregnancy. We already recommend no safe amount of tobacco during pregnancy, no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy. We should be recommending no safe level of marijuana during pregnancy.”
—Nathaniel G. DeNicola, MD, MSc, University of Pennsylvania Social Media & Health Innovation Lab
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) also recommends that marijuana use should be avoided during pregnancy, claiming that THC can pass through the placenta, causing developmental problems. THC permeates quickly into the placenta, blood, liver, brain, and breast milk and also clears quickly from these tissues.
Nathaniel G. DeNicola, MD, MSc of the University of Pennsylvania Social Media and Health Innovation Lab, said that marijuana is on a similar level as smoking or alcohol use during pregnancy.
He explained further that there is no recommended safe amount of tobacco or alcohol during pregnancy, and there is also no recommended safe level of marijuana when pregnant.
According to DeNicol, there is some evidence of decreased fetal growth, low IQ scores, attention problems, and reduced cognitive function in children exposed to marijuana in utero.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., delivered an advisory on the health risks related to marijuana use in adolescence and during pregnancy.
He urged physicians and health care professionals to educate the youth and pregnant women about the potential dangers of marijuana on the developing brains of infants and adolescents.
“No amount of marijuana use during pregnancy or adolescence is known to be safe… Until and unless more is known about the long-term impact, the safest choice for pregnant women and adolescents is not to use marijuana.”
—U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H.
Dr. James Lozada, an OB/GYN anesthesiologist at Northwestern University, believes that CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors differently from THC.
Dr. Lozada is concerned because the said receptors impact neonatal fetal brain development. Thus, he cautions women to take a safe approach by entirely avoiding CBD use.
The same sentiments are held by Dr. Talitha Bruney, medical director for the Comprehensive Family Care Center, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health at Montefiore Health System. She is worried about the unregulated nature of the CBD oil industry, saying that there are no consistent formulations of CBD oil, as well as no firm guidelines on the delivery form and recommended dosage.
In BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology Journal, a 2016 study on mice shows that THC inhibits the development of embryonic cells. While cannabis exposure in utero has been connected to early pregnancy failure, congenital abnormalities, and developmental delay, the mechanisms of such outcomes are mostly unexplained ( 15 ) .
Researchers of the above-mentioned study also found that anandamide hinders the development of embryo cells.
Anandamide, a fatty acid neurotransmitter, plays an essential role in the endocannabinoid system. In the body, it performs similarly to the cannabinoids, activating the endocannabinoid system so it can maintain homeostasis. Anandamide is vital in thought processes, memory , and control of movement.
A 2017 review by Eugene Scharf of the Department of Neurology in Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, showed that CBD increases anandamide levels ( 16 ) .
Some Exceptions: CBD Oil on a Positive Perspective
Given the warnings from reputable organizations, along with results from studies that suggest adverse prenatal and neonatal outcomes linked to marijuana use during pregnancy, one may be inclined to conclude that any CBD oil product containing a significant amount of THC is unsafe for pregnancy.
However, as the existing body of research is limited, the question of whether CBD oil use for pregnancy is safe or not may be subject to debate for most people.
In a study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2016, scientists found that using CBD-rich cannabis to cure acute and chronic symptoms during pregnancy did not result in significant adverse neonatal outcomes unless there were other risk factors such as cigarette smoking ( 17 ) .
Researchers believe that the association between maternal marijuana use and adverse outcomes are due to related tobacco use, indicating that CBD oil and marijuana use cannot be blamed solely for any unfavorable pregnancy consequences.
Medical researcher and Medical Marijuana, Inc. president Dr. Stuart Titus, Ph.D., explained the science behind CBD’s benefits and the body’s cannabinoid system.
According to Dr. Titus, CBD helps with the development of healthy brain cells. He also confirms that he has seen pregnant mothers thrive on CBD-rich diets and give birth to healthy babies.
The leading researcher also added that physicians and obstetrician-gynecologists (OB-GYNs) do not recommend CBD oil use during pregnancy due to a lack of conclusive, longitudinal human studies on the subject.
Given that long-term studies and extensive research on the effects of CBD oil use on the fetus are not currently available, experts advise pregnant women to consult with their doctors before using CBD during their pregnancy.
Morning Sickness Remedies
Morning sickness can be debilitating, and frequent vomiting can lead to dehydration, which is dangerous for both the mother and baby. Most pregnant mothers are not too keen on taking pharmaceuticals that may cause adverse side effects.
Experts advise women looking to relieve morning sickness to try the following lifestyle and home remedies.
- Carefully select foods. Choose foods that are easy to digest, rich in protein, and low in fat.
Avoid foods that are seasoned with too much spice or cooked in too much oil. Bland foods like rice, bananas, applesauce, and toast are good options, and they are easy to digest.
Salty foods, as well as foods that contain ginger, are sometimes helpful.
- Snack frequently. An empty stomach can make nausea worse. Nibbling on small quantities of food throughout the day, rather than eating three large meals can help prevent nausea.
- Increase fluid intake. Sip water or ginger ale, and aim for at least six cups of non-caffeinated beverages daily.
- Avoid nausea triggers. One should keep away from foods or smells that seem to make nausea worse. Breathe fresh air as much as possible.
- Take prenatal vitamins with caution. Taking the vitamins with a light snack or before bed may help one to avoid feeling nauseous.
Alternative Medicine for Morning Sickness
Several alternative remedies have been suggested for morning sickness, including:
- Acupressure. Results of a 1994 study , which was published by the National Institutes of Health, indicate that acupressure at the PC-6 anatomical site is effective in reducing the symptoms of nausea but not the frequency of vomiting in pregnant women ( 18 ) .
Acupressure wristbands may be purchased without a prescription in most pharmacies. Makers of wristbands say the products work to relieve nausea by applying pressure to the point on the inside of the wrist, stimulating the nerves and sending interfering signals to the brain that may disrupt the nausea signals.
Reviews on acupressure wristbands have had mixed results, but some women seem to find the wristbands helpful.
- Acupuncture. In a 1997 review published by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found clear evidence that needle acupuncture is effective for adult post-operation and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and probably for the nausea of pregnancy ( 19 ) .
- Ginger. Ginger supplements may help alleviate morning sickness for some women. Research led by Mengjian Ding from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Queensland in Australia in 2013 suggests that ginger is a safe and effective treatment for pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting (PNV) (20 ) .
- Hypnosis. A 2015 study published in the Journal of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology examined the use of hypnosis for the management of anticipatory nausea and vomiting (ANV) (2 1 ) . Results show that the safety and efficacy of hypnosis are well established.
- Aromatherapy. Although there is limited research on the topic, certain scents, using essential oils (aromatherapy), can help some women deal with morning sickness
Results of a 2014 review published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal suggest that lemon scent can be useful in reducing nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (22 ) .
Moderate to severe NVP may lead to dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes, such as sodium or potassium, putting the health of both mother and baby at risk.
A consultation with a doctor, such as an OB-GYN, is one’s best course of action when dealing with nausea. Doctors can recommend a safe option based on the severity of one’s symptoms.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Surgeon General, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly advise pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to avoid marijuana altogether.
Experts do not consider CBD oil safe for use during pregnancy, as CBD products may still contain trace amounts of THC.
There are not enough studies on the use of CBD during pregnancy. Its effects on mothers and babies are still unknown.
Thus, most health professionals recommend that pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and those contemplating pregnancy not to use CBD.
CBD Oil and Pregnancy: Safety & Efficacy For Maternity
Pregnancy can be both a beautiful and uncomfortable experience. Many expecting mothers experience cramping, insomnia, anxiety, morning sickness, and many more symptoms throughout the course of their pregnancy.
One of the newer and more exciting health supplements to hit the market recently that’s been shown to support many of these symptoms is CBD Oil. This oil is made from one of the active compounds in the hemp plant known as cannabidiol — CBD.
But exactly what is CBD oil? How do you take it, and what effects can it have on your pregnancy? Read on to learn everything you need to know about taking CBD oil during pregnancy.
What is CBD Oil and Is It Safe During Pregnancy?
CBD stands for cannabidiol — one of over 400 different compounds found in the cannabis plant. The chemical structure of CBD is unique in that it closely resembles some of the hormones produced by our body known as the endocannabinoids.
The similarities in the structure of CBD to these hormones allow CBD to interact with the endocannabinoid system — made up of a series of receptors around the human body. This system has many uses but the most important is its role in regulating homeostasis (balance).
This ability to interact with regulatory systems like the endocannabinoid system is what gives CBD so many health benefits. Instead of working through just one organ, it’s able to interact with organs all around the body.
CBD has been shown to support muscle relaxation (such as cramping or muscle injuries) , boost immune function , reduce inflammation , block excessive pain transmission from reaching the brain , and regulate the nausea center in the brain to fight morning sickness and other forms of nausea or vomiting .
You can find CBD in many different forms, including capsules, edibles, and oils. Out of all the different types of CBD products, CBD oils are the most popular. They’re easy to use, the dose can be tailored to match your specific needs, and they have a long shelf life.
What’s the Difference Between CBD & THC?
CBD and THC are the two most common compounds in the cannabis plant. Both compounds are similar in structure — they even have the same molecular structure: 30 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms.
Although similar in structure, CBD and THC each have a very different effect on the body.
THC is the main psychoactive compound in the marijuana plant — it’s what produces the high associated with marijuana use. It works by stimulating the endocannabinoid receptors in the body, activating the release of serotonin, and other neurotransmitters.
CBD, on the other hand, is completely non-psychoactive. It doesn’t activate the endocannabinoid receptors directly, and will instead work indirectly by slowing the breakdown of our naturally occurring endocannabinoids.
It also interacts with other receptors in the body associated with inflammation and the transmission of pain in the spinal cord. Many of the medicinal effects associated with cannabis owe these benefits to the CBD content.
In basic terms — THC makes you high, CBD makes you feel better.
All cannabis plants manufacture both CBD and THC — however, depending on the type of cannabis, the ratios can be radically different. There are big differences between hemp and marijuana plants where CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids are extracted.
Hemp plants, for example, produce almost no THC but will contain high levels of CBD instead.
Marijuana plants (the type people smoke to get high), are the opposite, producing primarily the psychoactive cannabinoid THC and lower levels of CBD.
For the context of this article, the CBD oils we’re talking about are all made from the hemp plant — not marijuana.
Why Are Pregnant Women Taking CBD Oil?
Pregnancy, in all its beauty, places a lot of strain on the body. There are a lot of side-effects pregnant women may experience that can impact daily life — some more severe than others.
For example, a common condition a large number of women experience during pregnancy is hyperemesis gravidarum — excessive morning sickness.
This condition can be debilitating, making it nearly impossible to leave the house when it’s at its worst. Additionally, frequent vomiting can easily result in dehydration — which is dangerous for both the mother and baby.
There are medications available for this condition, but most of them come with their own set of negative side-effects.
One such medication doctors frequently prescribe is called Prochlorperazine. This medication stops the feeling of nausea by acting directly on the nausea center of the brain. The problem is that it also causes side-effects such as insomnia, dizziness, blurred vision, and anxiety. It merely shifts the problem from nausea to something else.
CBD is becoming one of the most popular alternatives to medications like this for expectant mothers. It offers many of the same benefits of reducing nausea symptoms — without the negative side effects.
In fact, CBD actually addresses many of the side-effects anti-nausea medications like Prochlorperazine produce — including anxiety and insomnia.
This is only one example, but there are a number of different reasons why pregnant women are seeking out CBD-infused products to support various symptoms throughout the course of their pregnancy.
The most common reasons pregnant women may want to consider using CBD supplements:
- Sleeping problems and insomnia
- Mood disorders
Are Cannabinoids Safe During Pregnancy?
There are well over 67 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant — only a small handful of which are psychoactive. This includes THC as the primary psychoactive component.
The first thing we need to make crystal clear here is that THC-containing products, like marijuana, are not safe during pregnancy. There’s evidence that suggests smoking marijuana during pregnancy results in a lowered birth-weight and delays in brain development [1, 2].
When we smoke marijuana or use products that contain THC — we have to remember that this compound is going to pass straight through the placental barrier and interact with our baby’s brain.
This goes for most other supplements we take while pregnant. Everything we put into our body will ultimately reach the baby — everything from the food we eat to the air we breathe.
But What About CBD & Other Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids?
There are experts who are hesitant to recommend CBD during pregnancy — but this isn’t because the compound is inherently dangerous in any way — in fact, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence  and preliminary research , indicating that CBD is indeed safe during pregnancy.
The hesitation of CBD comes purely from the lack of research available on the topic.
Currently, there’s no long-term research available in the scientific literature exploring whether CBD oil is safe and effective during pregnancy — However, there isn’t anything that proves this compound is dangerous either.. This is a topic that’s been relatively ignored despite the widespread interest in cannabis research in recent decades.
Without the research to prove that CBD is indeed safe and effective during various stages of pregnancy — most experts will err on the side of caution and avoid it.
This lack of pregnancy-specific research is common when it comes to health supplements. Many supplements thought to be safe and effective are generally avoided anyway simply due to the lack of research.
There Are 3 Good Reasons for This Lack of Research:
1. It’s Hard to Get Research Involving Pregnant Patients Approved
In order to conduct any research, especially on humans, a professional ethics board needs to approve the study parameters. These boards are especially strict when it comes to pregnancy and will often deny any research requests if there hasn’t already been enough proof that the substance is safe through other studies.
2. Pregnancy Makes it Hard to Account for All the Variables of the Study
Pregnancy is a complex chemical process and affects women differently. No pregnancy is alike — we all experience the side-effects differently.
This makes it very hard to study the effects of a supplement like CBD because what might work for one person won’t for another — not because the CBD doesn’t work, but because the causes of that particular symptom might be different from one person to the next. This makes interpreting the data into something meaningful very challenging.
3. Research Takes Place Over Long Periods of Time
The last point we’ll touch here is that the research for determining the safety of a health supplement needs to be done over long periods of time — often several years.
Research like this is tedious and very expensive. A single randomized, double-blind clinical trial can cost several million dollars and take a decade or more to complete.
There are institutions that will pay for research like this, but as of yet, no one has stepped up to take it on for this particular question.
There are simply other areas of interest more important to research at the moment (like some of the exciting clinical trials currently underway exploring the use of CBD with anxiety or other common medical conditions).
On top of that, there simply isn’t any indication that CBD poses any threat to a fetus or pregnant mother as it is. It would be nice to have some rock-solid research behind us to definitively prove it — but there’s a good chance all this time and effort will only prove what we already know — that CBD poses little threat during pregnancy.
There Are Virtually No Indications That CBD is Unsafe During Pregnancy
Despite the lack of research on using CBD during pregnancy, there are virtually no examples of research to draw on that suggest the compound is unsafe.
In an ideal world, you won’t need to take anything during your pregnancy aside from wholesome food and mild herbal teas. However, sometimes you may need relief from the uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy.
CBD is an excellent option to try before escalating to some of the more harmful pharmaceutical options doctors may prescribe in its place.
Women around the world are using CBD to manage spikes in uncomfortable symptoms and avoid using pharmaceutical drugs as much as possible during their pregnancy. This has been going on for years, and I have yet to hear of even one case study to suggest CBD has any significant adverse effects on the mother or the baby.
With that said, there are a few important steps you can take to keep your level of risk to a minimum when using CBD, as well as any other supplement while pregnant.
How to Use CBD Safely While Pregnant?
1. Start Low & Go Slow
When it comes to using health supplements during pregnancy, the key is to start low and slow — meaning that you should always start with the lowest possible dose, and build it up gradually until you reach the recommended dosage.
2. Talk to Your Doctor Before Using CBD
It’s also important to remain transparent with your doctor about any health supplement you plan on taking.
Pregnancy is a complex process, and there are a number of individual factors to consider depending on other medical conditions you may have and what medications you may be taking.
Your doctor has the medical know-how to decide whether CBD is appropriate for your individual case.
3. Keep Notes on Your Doses and Progress
One of the best steps you can take when introducing a new supplement or medication in your health regimen is to take notes of your dose and how you respond to it during the course of the treatment. This will help you and your medical practitioner understand how the CBD or other supplement is working (or not).
Keep Track of Things Like:
- What dose of CBD did you take?
- How did your symptoms feel today?
- Were symptoms improved after taking the CBD?
- Did you experience any side-effects?
- Which CBD product did you take?
5. Only Use High-Quality Products
Many health supplements are unregulated — meaning that virtually anybody can buy the raw materials and put together health supplements. This leaves a lot of room for low-quality products on the market — some of which contain harmful compounds you wouldn’t want to bring anywhere near your baby.
In the case of CBD oils, the biggest problem is the contamination of heavy metals, pesticides, and organic solvents. All of these things can be harmful to the health of your baby.
Luckily, there’s a solution to this issue — which comes in the form of third-party testing.
This is an optional step CBD manufactures can do to prove the quality of the products they produce. A company will send a sample of its batch of products to an independent lab (not connected to the company). This lab will test the sample and provide a detailed analysis of the heavy metal, pesticide, solvent, and organic contaminant contents.
I recommend doing some research before you buy. Look for these third-party tests and make sure they’ve all passed before you buy that particular product.
You may also want to consider using creams during your pregnancy as they are safer than ingestible forms because the CBD doesn’t pass into the bloodstream.
6. Use CBD Products Made from Isolate Only
There are two main types of CBD product available — full-spectrum extracts and CBD isolate.
Full-spectrum extracts contain all the phytochemicals naturally produced in cannabis, while CBD isolate has had all compounds except the CBD removed.
While both options have their own positives and negatives, for pregnancy it’s recommended that you opt for a CBD isolate. These products have removed the other cannabinoids, including THC — which is considered unsafe during pregnancy.
This way you can rest assured the only compound you’re using is the one you planned for — CBD.
How to Use CBD Products (After Pregnancy)?
There are a few different ways you can use CBD oils. Let’s go over the three most common.
1. Oral Ingestion
Most expectant mothers who take CBD oil choose to orally ingest the oil.
This simply involves applying the dropper directly in the mouth and swallowing the oil. Alternatively, you can mix the oil in with a smoothie or other meal to disguise the naturally bitter flavor.
The bottom line is that CBD oil taken this way ends up in the gut where it’s absorbed over the course of about 2 hours into the bloodstream.
CBD oil products can be purchased online from trusted vendors such as CBDistillery, Royal CBD, Charlotte’s Web. They come in a variety of options (ranging from 250mg, 500mg to 1000mg) in the form of tinctures, beverages, edibles, and capsules, which are all easily consumed.
2. Sublingual Administration
“Sublingual” refers to holding something underneath your tongue where the oil and active ingredients are absorbed by the capillaries beneath the tongue.
This means of administration produces effects relatively quickly (within about 15 minutes). Once done, you can simply swallow what’s left of the oil.
This form of administration is best for symptoms that appear suddenly as it allows you to address them in a shorter window of time.
3. Topical Application
You can also use CBD oils topically for things such as skin irritations, inflammation, wounds, and muscle aches. This form of use has far fewer restrictions than other forms of supplementation and is the safest form of administration.
Only a small fraction of the CBD content actually makes its way into the bloodstream when used topically. So you can use higher doses, and you don’t need to be as cautious about monitoring for side-effects.
With that said, this form of administration will only provide relief for symptoms involving the skin and muscles. It won’t do much for any of the systemic effects CBD is suggested to support.
I know many women that use CBD oil topically in this way on the abdomen for cramping and on the lower back to alleviate pain.
Final Thoughts: Using CBD During Pregnancy
There are many reasons why a pregnant mother may want to give CBD a try. This compound is useful for common side-effects experienced by pregnant women — including muscle cramping, abdominal pain, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and nausea.
The safety of CBD during pregnancy is taken with a lot of caution — and with good reason, we don’t have any reliable studies to prove or disprove the safety of this compound on the developing fetus.
We’re caught in a situation where CBD hasn’t been proven safe, nor has it been proven unsafe.
Therefore, the best course of action is to remain cautious when using CBD oil. This is the case with all supplements while pregnant.
Pay attention to how your body responds and be transparent with your doctor about anything you’re taking or thinking of taking while pregnant.
With all of that said, there really isn’t any clear reasons why CBD would pose any danger to yourself or your baby. There have been dozens of studies on the supplement with populations including small children — all of which have concluded that CBD is both a safe and effective supplement for a wide range of symptoms — even at high doses.
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- The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2017). The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: The current state of evidence and recommendations for research. National Academies Press.
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- Crippa, J. A., Crippa, A., Hallak, J. E., Martín-Santos, R., & Zuardi, A. W. (2016). Δ9-THC intoxication by cannabidiol-enriched cannabis extract in two children with refractory epilepsy: full remission after switching to purified cannabidiol. Frontiers in pharmacology, 7, 359.
- Porter, B. E., & Jacobson, C. (2013). Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy. Epilepsy & Behavior, 29(3), 574-577.
Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.