Did you know that cannabis use dates back to 2000 BC?
In the early 1970s, it was categorized as a Schedule I drug, which put an end to any research related to cannabis and its effects on pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Research in the past and in recent years has discovered several compounds in the cannabis plant. CBD oil that is extracted from the hemp plant is vastly different in THC, the psychotropic compound found in the marijuana plant.
The biggest problem with CBD oil is that it is often mistaken as the same as medical marijuana, which is not at all the case. The hemp and marijuana plants look similar, but the hemp plant has much less THC than the marijuana plant.
When CBD oil is extracted from the hemp plant, there are only small traces of THC in it, therefore there are no psychotropic effects. It is legal in most developed countries for anyone’s use, including the United States, whereas medical marijuana is only legal in certain states for specific medical purposes.
Hemp CBD oil has been found to be effective for anxiety and epilepsy in various studies, but how does it affect breastfeeding moms and their babies?
What do we know about CBD oil?
What is known about CBD oil includes the following:
- There are at least 480 compounds in the marijuana plant
- Somewhere between 66 and 100 of said compounds are classified as cannabinoids
- Cannabinoids are known to interact with receptors within the central nervous system
- CB1 and CB2 are two that are currently identified
- CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the most popular compounds in the hemp and marijuana plants
- CBD does not have psychotropic effects likes its counterpart, THC which is known to create a “high” and has legal status issues
- THC is NOT suitable for pregnant or nursing women, though CBD oil shows promise
Why would new mothers need to use CBD oil?
Since some research shows that CBD oil is quite an effective treatment for sleeplessness, depression, and anxiety, it stands to reason that it would benefit new moms with these symptoms.
It isn’t uncommon for new mothers to suffer from sleep disorders, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Worse than that, new moms sometimes suffer from postpartum depression (PPD), which is the focus of some newer research regarding CBD oil. Currently, there is not enough official data, other than self-reporting mothers, related to PPD and CBD oil.
Not only do new moms suffer from these symptoms, but women who miscarry and have stillborn babies are vulnerable to PPD, insomnia, anxiety, and general depression.
Not many women report their PPD symptoms and out of those who do very few are treated using alternative or conventional medical treatments. These PPD statistics are eye-opening and astounding. This could explain the wide use of CBD oil by breastfeeding moms.
What is the problem with taking drugs for breastfeeding mothers?
New mothers don’t want to take drugs while they are breastfeeding, so they actively seek out alternative and natural treatments for their ailments. Unfortunately, most treatments come from the conventional side of medicine.
Conventional treatments include counselling along with anti-depressants like Zyban and Lexapro. The side effects of these types of drugs include weight gain, diarrhea, dizziness, and insomnia, which are less than ideal for the new mother.
While the latest anti-depressants are designed to not affect breastfeeding, there is no certainty in their effectiveness.
What is the problem with breastfeeding and using CBD oil?
The problem with using CBD oil while breastfeeding is the lack of research, clinical studies, and data about it due to the lack of research administered to nursing mothers. However, there are studies related to this topic for THC, but it’s not remotely positive.
Another factor related to cannabis in other studies is that exposure in utero has a negative effect on birth weight, increasing the need for neonatal intensive care after their birth.
What do we know about breast milk?
We know that breast milk is good for the baby. What you may not know is that due to research related to cannabis they have found out that breast milk naturally produces cannabinoids, which are the same as those found in the cannabis plant.
Apparently, cannabinoids are crucial to healthy human development. This could explain what is referred to as the breast milk coma, which relates to how quickly babies fall asleep after nursing. Cannabinoids are known for their calming effects.
It’s important to note that these studies do not confirm that breast milk contains THC or CBD.
How to cannabinoids affect a baby in utero?
Human cell membranes naturally contain cannabinoid receptors. When they are active, they support good health. The specific way to reference this compound in the human body is endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids have been found to be vital to the female reproductive system and are important for conception.
What is the challenge of finding the effects of CBD on breast milk?
The biggest challenge today for determining how CBD affects nursing mothers and their babies are due to the use of CBD oil by mothers suffering from anxiety and PPD. This makes it difficult to measure how much CBD is naturally-occurring in human breast milk.
Also, because CBD is known to closely bind with fat, it makes it more difficult to measure how much is in breast milk. After all, there is a lot of healthy fats found in breast milk. According to the CDC, there may be a new process to separate cannabinoids from breast milk, which means there could be some results for future studies.
Is it worth the risk to use CBD oil while breastfeeding?
Women with PPD are known to have issues with breastfeeding. It can be severe enough to be harmful to mother and child. CBD oil may help a mother through PPD, but there is so little data related to how it impacts human breast milk and the baby.
On the other hand, CBD oil is better than conventional drugs that some women cannot take and THC which is known to be a problem while breastfeeding.
CBD does not create an intoxicating effect and is good for reducing anxiety and depression in breastfeeding mothers. Another factor to consider is the fact that CBD oil is being prescribed regularly for children who have seizures.
Is there a specific safe dosage of CBD you should take when breastfeeding?
The lack of official research about CBD and dosing makes it difficult to determine how much is enough and what is too much to take.
The recommended starting dose is typically between 5mgs and 10mgs. You can increase the dose as you record how the starting dose impacts your mood and go from there.
CBD products include balms, edibles, and oils. Oils are the most widely used because it can be vaped, but the recommendation for nursing mothers is to put a few drops of the oil under their tongue.
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Remember that the full impact of CBD on breastfeeding mothers and their babies is yet to be discovered because of the lack of research. However, hemp is a natural plant that contains cannabinoids known to help with anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness.
We know that anti-depressants and opioids and are known to cause major side effects for the nursing mother and child.
Therefore, talk to your physician and weigh your options wisely before taking CBD products.
References & Further Reading
1. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series
2. CBD Oil for Depression, Schizophrenia, ADHD, PTSD, Anxiety, Bipolar & More
3. Cannabis – Drugs and Lactation Database
4. Prenatal, Perinatal, and Neonatal Exposure to Cannabis
5. The endocannabinoid-CB1 receptor system in pre- and postnatal life
6. Sensitive Quantification of Cannabinoids in Milk by Alkaline Saponification
7. Jekyll and Hyde: Two Faces of Cannabinoid Signaling in Male and Female Fertility
8. CBD, Pregnancy & Postpartum – Omnia Biologics
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