Marijuana Use and Pregnancy

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Call it marijuana, call it pot, or call it by its legal name, cannabis. Evidence shows humans have had a relationship with the plant for thousands of years and the number of states in the U.S. in which marijuana is legal for recreational or medicinal use continues to grow. But that doesn’t mean marijuana is safe for women to use during pregnancy.

When you smoke marijuana (and that includes vaping) or consume marijuana edibles (foods that contain marijuana), the chemicals responsible for making you feel relaxed or high – tetrahydrocannabinol or THC for short, along with some other ones that affect your body – cross the placenta and reaches your baby.

Affects of Marijuana on Your Baby: What the Research Shows

There is limited research on the effects of marijuana on a developing fetus when the mother smokes or eats marijuana, but current research is showing that:

  • Exposure to marijuana may disrupt the normal brain development of a fetus
  • Babies whose mothers used marijuana during pregnancy may be smaller at birth
  • Marijuana use may cause a higher rate of stillbirth
  • The use of marijuana and cigarettes during pregnancy may increase the risk of preterm birth
  • Children whose mothers used marijuana during pregnancy may develop learning and behavioral problems
  • Secondhand smoke from marijuana may be as harmful as secondhand smoke from cigarettes

Effects may begin as early as the first trimester, even before you know you are pregnant. If you are planning to become pregnant and you use marijuana, the best way to decrease the risks to your baby is to stop before you are pregnant.

Marijuana and Morning Sickness

Despite what you may have heard, there is no evidence that marijuana helps with morning sickness. If you are having morning sickness, tell your doctor so he or she can work with you to find a treatment that will help and not harm your baby.

Affects of Marijuana on Your Health

Marijuana can also affect your health, as a pregnant mother:

  • It can make you dizzy and fall, which could hurt you or your baby.
  • It can affect your judgment, putting you at risk for injury.
  • Smoking marijuana lowers your body’s level of oxygen, putting you at risk for breathing problems.
  • Smoking marijuana can damage your lungs.

Research is still ongoing as to the effects of marijuana on pregnancy, but doctors recommend women who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant avoid marijuana. If you are using marijuana and want to quit, we have resources that can help. Just ask.

Source: The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology

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