We’ve heard it for decades. “Don’t smoke while pregnant! It’s dangerous for the baby!” But they mean smoking cigarettes. What about marijuana?
It’s said to help curb morning sickness. As well as the aches & pains that come with pregnancy. If it helps the mother with all those, it can’t be all bad, can it?
Well…unfortunately, yes it can. While smoking marijuana/weed/pot while pregnant doesn’t pose a fraction of the danger to your baby as alcohol or harder drugs, it does still pose risks to the baby’s health. Let us explain how and why.
Is Marijuana Safer for the Body Than Cigarettes?
Technically, yes. But only technically.
Weed/Pot contains many of the same chemicals you find in cigarettes. Burning it causes the same chemical reactions, which cause toxic effects within the body after you smoke.
Now, vaping and edibles avoid those chemical reactions. They’re less harmful to the body than smoking pot, which is good. But you’re still taking in chemicals like THC, which lingers in the body for weeks after consumption. This means that marijuana edibles are definitely safer than smoking weed, but still not 100% “safe.”
How Does Marijuana Affect an Unborn Baby?
Everything a mother does while pregnant can have an effect on her child. From the food you eat to the water you drink.
Cigarettes, alcohol, and other substances can cause terrible damage to the baby’s health. Think fetal alcohol syndrome, prenatal addiction, birth defects, and so on. Devastating long-term conditions that can ruin the baby’s life before it even starts.
These effects come about because the child shares the mother’s blood supply while in the womb. Chemicals that get into the mother’s bloodstream—like alcohol, or nicotine from cigarettes—end up in the baby’s bloodstream too.
This is why using pot when pregnant isn’t “safe.” Smoking, vaping, or consuming marijuana gets into your bloodstream and passes to the baby. So yes, it does affect unborn babies.
“But marijuana has so many positive effects!” Yes, current research does indicate a lot of good uses for things like CBD oil. Let’s remember though, that scientists conduct this research on adults (and in some cases with children). It’s not targeted to unborn babies. They must rely on the mother’s immune system completely, which means they may experience different effects than what we as adults do.
What kind of effects does marijuana cause for unborn babies? Research gives us the following possible effects:
- Learning difficulties
- Low birth weight
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Memory & attention problems (these findings are not consistent though)
- Aggression issues (measured up to age 10!)
The scariest effect: Marijuana use can make your child more vulnerable to foreign bodies…like deadly viruses. While still in the womb.
Does this mean every baby will experience these effects? No, of course not. They may experience no effects at all (and we join you in wishing for that!). Still, the possibility does exist, and we need to be aware of it.
Here’s an example of the research we just referenced, from Today’s Parent:
“There are more than 400 active chemicals in cannabis, some of which cross the placenta and enter the baby’s brain and tissue. Most research has focused on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of marijuana, and cannabidiol (CBD), the primary non-psychoactive component. After a pregnant woman uses weed, the amount of THC in her baby’s blood is about a third to a tenth of the level in her own blood. And CBD has been found to increase the placenta’s permeability, allowing for THC and other foreign substances to pass into the baby’s blood more easily.“
What kind of effect would increased THC amounts in an unborn baby’s blood have? Serious ones. According to a 2020 study of 11,489 children published in JAMA Psychiatry:
“…prenatal cannabis exposure and its correlated factors are associated with greater risk for psychopathology during middle childhood. Cannabis use during pregnancy should be discouraged.”
Psychopathology is the study of mental disorders. The study found that marijuana use by pregnant mothers increased the chances their unborn children would develop disorders like clinical depression…or schizophrenia!
Need more proof? Here are quotes from several highly-rated medical research sources:
DrugAbuse.gov: “Research has shown that pregnant women who use marijuana have a 2.3 times greater risk of stillbirth.”
CDC: “Some research shows marijuana use during pregnancy may make it hard for your child to pay attention or to learn; these issues may only become noticeable as your child grows older.”
Science Daily: “…there is substantial evidence that exposure to cannabis in pregnancy is associated with having a low-birthweight baby, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy discontinue cannabis use because of concerns about impaired neurodevelopment and exposure to the adverse effects of smoking.”
Marijuana is worse than a “risk” to your child’s health. It’s a direct threat!
Smoking Pot While Pregnant Represents a Danger to Your Unborn Child. Please Avoid It.
Now we can answer the question. No, it is not safe to smoke marijuana/weed/pot while pregnant.
Despite this, many women do. About 1 in 20 women in the United States reports using marijuana while pregnant. You might think, “I’ll switch to vaping, that eliminates the smoke.” True! Unfortunately, this still introduces THC to the baby through your bloodstream.
We know it’s hard to give up a habit…especially if you think it helps your health (and it may indeed help). When pregnant however, you’re making decisions for two. Marijuana use is one habit we recommend you do give up. For your baby’s sake, if nothing else. It represents a risk to your baby…but it’s one you can control.
Now, it’s not as dangerous as a substance like meth. That’s horrible for you and our baby! The two are miles apart. Nevertheless, marijuana can still endanger an unborn, highly vulnerable baby.
Other, safer options do exist to help with morning sickness and pain. Ask your gynecologist for their recommendations.
More information on the effects of marijuana on babies: CDC.gov – What You Need to Know About Marijuana Use and Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant and having trouble stopping marijuana use, please contact us for help. We can help you stop the habit safely, and protect your baby’s health.
Did you smoke marijuana while pregnant? Please share your experience.