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Breastfeeding and Cannabis: What Do You Need To Know?

Even though marijuana is legal in some American states and there has been a corresponding increase in marijuana use, there is still little data on the effects and benefits when used for medical purposes.

For example, many questions surround CBD (an active chemical in marijuana) and breastfeeding. The exact effects of marijuana use when breastfeeding remains undetermined because of the limited number of studies in this area.

 What Are Marijuana CBD, Hemp, and THC Exactly?    

According to Altitude Organic Cannabis, the marijuana plant is a member of the Cannabaceae family of plants. It contains the active chemical ingredients THC and CBD. THC is known for its psychoactive hallucinogenic effects, commonly referred to as “getting high.”

The other active chemical in marijuana plants is CBD (Cannabidiol), and in recent years, CBD has experienced a surge in popularity. CBD is now in many products, including pharmaceutical drugs, food, and cosmetics.

Hemp is another member of the cannabis plant family. However, the THC levels in hemp plants are generally much lower than in other species, but the levels of CBD are equivalent if not increased.

 Is It a Good Idea To Use Marijuana While Breastfeeding?    

Research has demonstrated that CBD, an active ingredient of marijuana, can be stored in mothers’ milk for up to two weeks. However, we don’t know what this means for breastfed babies due to the lack of research.

Although breastfeeding is a natural and wonderful experience, it can also be overwhelming. Breastfeeding can prolong the postpartum period, which can lead to fatigue, sleep disruptions, and emotional pressures that come with caring for a baby 24 hours a day.

CBD benefits mothers by giving them a sense of calm and relief without any psychoactive effects. However, the effects of consuming CBD has on the baby as it is passed on through breast milk is yet to be determined. This has led doctors to be cautions and advice mothers against using marijuana and exposing babies to CBD through their breast milk.

 What Do We Know About THC Use During Pregnancy?    

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, unborn babies exposed to THC are more likely to experience adverse health effects. Recent consumer advice states that consuming marijuana during pregnancy can affect the development of the fetus through the THC that goes to into the fetal brain through the mother’s bloodstream.

THC can still be found in breast milk up to six days after initial exposure, and it can cause brain damage, hyperactivity, and cognitive impairment in newborns.

 CBD and Breastfeeding: What Do We Know?    

The effects of CBD on the baby, mother, and breastfed infant are not well understood, but the the FDA continues to gather data and investigate the potentially harmful effects of CBD during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

According to research on CBD and breastfeeding, mothers can pass some CBD to their babies via breast milk. Unfortunately, THC and other substances can contaminate CBD products, which could pose a risk to unborn babies or those who breastfeed.

CBD presents risks for people. Based on clinical trials with humans, some of the risks of CBD include extreme sleepiness, liver damage, and dangerous drug interactions.

 What are The Possible Effects of Cannabis on Babies?    

Researchers believe that CBD or THC could affect infant development, including altered responses to visual stimuli and a tendency to develop a high-pitched cry. Research also found that babies exposed to the chemicals in marijuana were also more likely to develop increased trembling.

From these findings, researchers and doctors have concluded that exposure to the chemicals within marijuana can lead to cognitive or behavioral deficits in babies.

In a 2018 study, milk samples from mothers who regularly consumed cannabis were examined. The study found that breastfeeding infants consume 2.5% of their mothers’ cannabis doses.

 Can the Pump and Dump Procedure Stop Mothers From Passing On Chemicals in Their Breast Milk? 

The pump and dump method of breastfeeding is where a lactating mother uses a breast pump to pump out extra milk from her breasts and then dumps it rather than feeding it to her baby. Mothers do it for several reasons, but the most common reasons are to get rid of some of the extra milk they produce or they are concerned about the content of their breast milk.

The pump and dump method works for chemicals that only stay in the body for a short time, but this is not the case with marijuana. Research has shown that THC can stay in the bloodstream for up to six days, rendering the pump and dump method ineffective in preventing mothers from passing THC or CBD to their babies through their breast milk.

 Key Takeaway 

Medical marijuana has benefited many mothers by relieving some of the stress and anxiety they feel due to caring for their babies all day. However, CBD and THC can stay in breast milk for a couple of days and may get passed on to the babies. The full effects of CBD and THC still need further studies, but we do know they cause adverse effects like hyperactivity and cognitive and behavioral problems in babies.

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