More moms are turning to therapeutic products made with CBD, or cannabidiol, and some swear it helped offer relief while they were expecting. Here's what these moms—and experts—say about CBD during pregnancy. Little research is out there on CBD use during pregnancy. We take a closer look. When a woman becomes pregnant, everything she comes into contact with can potentially affect her fetus. Learn why taking CBD is not recommended while pregnant.
CBD Oil for Pregnancy: How Moms Are Using It
More moms are turning to therapeutic products made with CBD, or cannabidiol, and some swear it helped offer relief while they were expecting. Here’s what these moms—and experts—say about CBD during pregnancy.
Maressa Brown is a seasoned lifestyle journalist, writer, and astrologer. In addition to being a regular contributor to Parents.com, her bylines appear on InStyle, Shape, What to Expect, Cosmopolitan, et al. She is the author of a forthcoming parenting title to be published by Artisan Books in early 2023. A graduate of Emerson College, she’s based in Los Angeles.
December 9, 2018
Touted for offering a bevy of benefits, from pain relief to stress management, CBD, or cannabidiol, is having a real moment. The component of either a marijuana or hemp plant is non-psychoactive, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)—which only comes from marijuana—and is popping up in therapeutic products all over the internet and country. From drinking CBD mocktails as an alternative to wine to caring for sore muscles with a CBD salve or soaking in a tub with a CBD-lace bath bomb, moms everywhere are loving its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsant, and antidepressant properties.
These properties are research-proven. Clinical research has shown that CBD, which is generally taken orally as a tincture or in an edible form, can be therapeutically useful for managing anxiety and depression, chronic pain, sleep disorders, and seizure disorders. There’s also clinical evidence that CBD can be effective in suppressing nausea and vomiting, both symptoms commonly encountered by expectant moms. So, it’s no surprise that some pregnant women are getting on-board with, or simply curious about, CBD use.
What Moms Say
Maggie Frank, a mom who is also the National Educator for PlusCBD Oil, says she’s seen the product “used by women during pregnancy to help with a wide range of complaints including morning sickness, stress and anxiety, sleeplessness, food aversions as well as the aches, pains and cramps that accompany pregnancy for many.”
When Frank herself was expecting in 2015, prior to joining the company, she says she suffered from hypermesis gravitum (HG), a condition marked by chronic, severe morning sickness. “I was getting sick 20-30 times a day, was unable to nourish myself or my baby, and was constantly flirting with dehydration,” she tells Parents.com. “The medicine typically prescribed for this has a slew of potential side effects, so I refused it. My symptoms actually got worse with each passing month, to a point where my doctor was recommending bed rest in the fourth month.”
That’s when she says she started researching and learned about CBD. She was so intrigued that she discussed it with her doctor who she says “didn’t have an opinion either way, other than it didn’t seem like it would be worse than the pharmaceutical’s risks, and we needed to figure something out fast.”
Frank says she started with 3 mg of PlusCBDOil Green peppermint spray, and got relief, the very first day. “It was like someone flipped off the switch that was making me feel sick at all times,” she explains. “I was once again able to move, sleep and eat without feeling the need to vomit. Even my over sensitivity to smells dissipated!” She says that over the course of her pregnancy, she also experienced a “reduction in stress and anxiety levels, better mood, more patience, better sleep, and less aches and pains.”
Like Frank, Jennifer Farris, a health coach, yoga instructor, and mom who gave birth to her son just this past September, attests to the benefit of CBD use during pregnancy. “CBD oils noticeably reduced my anxiety during pregnancy and made it easy to fall asleep,” she tells Parents.com. “They also helped lessen joint pain with all the changes in my body during pregnancy. I used Sunday Scaries CBD Gummies, and their products are third-party lab tested to ensure there are zero traces of THC.”
What the Experts Say
The fact is that many—if not most—ob-gyns who would express concern and hesitate to recommend CBD use during pregnancy, in part due to the existing body of research, which is limited and has stated that cannabinoids could be harmful to both moms and their babies.
“The concern with phytocannabinoid/CBD supplementation and pregnancy is due to the unknown,” Frank notes. “We currently don’t have long-term research as to what happens years down the road as a result of utilizing hemp extracts in utero. Any woman using phytocannabinoids products should be aware of this and make her decision accordingly, preferably with her doctor.”
Felice Gersh, MD, ob-gyn and founder/director of the Integrative Medical Practice of Irvine in Irvine, California corroborates that experts’ concern is related to lacking data and “the fact that production is poorly regulated in most states.” While that remains to be the case, she advises her pregnant patients to avoid using CBD.
That said, Congress is poised to lift a federal hemp ban this month, that, according to The Hill, “will for the first time allow lawmakers to develop and impose best manufacturing practices and standards for this nascent industry—policies that will ultimately lead to a safer and better-quality product for consumers.”
The social, political, and scientific turning of the tide may ultimately reshape experts’ take on CBD for expectant moms. In the meantime, women are definitely advised to work with their health care provider to create a safe, healthy treatment plan that is best for them.
Is CBD Safe During Pregnancy?
Little research is out there on CBD use during pregnancy. We take a closer look.
It’s hard to turn on the TV or hop on social media without hearing mention of CBD. It’s on everyone’s minds lately. CBD—cannabidiol—is a chemical derived from cannabis. CBD is non-psychoactive and contains no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. So, it doesn’t produce the high associated with marijuana. Since this therapeutic agent is legal in some states, it’s enticing to those who want relief minus mind-altering effects.
Countless products containing CBD have popped up, touted as natural remedies for ailments ranging from joint pain and seizures to anxiety and insomnia. CBD is thought to alleviate conditions like inflammation, migraines, nausea and sleep disorders. And women are getting in on it, too, using it for issues like hormone regulation, beauty benefits, menopause and premenstrual syndrome symptom alleviation, and sex life enhancer.
CBD is sold in various strengths and forms including oils, capsules, edibles and topicals at health food stores, smoke shops and pharmacies (if it’s legal in your state). You might dab CBD lotion on problematic areas or drizzle CBD oil into your coffee. Or maybe you munch on CBD edibles like chocolates or gummies.
But is CBD safe during pregnancy?
Some pregnant women have been curious about using CBD oils, lotions, creams or other topical products to alleviate pregnancy-related issues like moodiness, anxiety and muscle pain. These women theorize that applying CBD on top of your skin—instead of digesting it—means that it won’t end up in their bloodstream. In fact, in California, the number of pregnant women using cannabis almost doubled between 2009 and 2016, according to a study out of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, the only U.S. healthcare system that screens all pregnant women for prenatal marijuana use.
Still, little research is out there on CBD use during pregnancy. No conclusive evidence shows that taking CBD during pregnancy is or isn’t safe. So, it’s wise not to use CBD to soothe your ailments. It’s not proven how it impacts your body and developing fetus. No long-term research exists as to what happens years down the road after taking CBD during pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women who are pregnant or thinking about conceiving shouldn’t use marijuana or any of its by-products, including medical marijuana. THC, CBD’s cousin, may interfere with baby’s brain development and function and may be linked to stillbirth, lower birthweight and other unwanted outcomes. Even the lowest-dose products aren’t considered safe during pregnancy.
Yes, CBD isn’t THC. It’s much safer and has minor side effects like tiredness and diarrhea. Still, exactly how it works is unknown. It may even impact your hormones, which is something you don’t want to interfere with during pregnancy. Plus, CBD is a new and largely unregulated market. Products, even ones marketed as pure CBD, may be contaminated with pesticides, toxic metals and bacteria that you don’t want near your fetus.
Talk with your health care provider about any questions you have regarding CBD use during pregnancy.
What You Need to Know About Taking CBD While Pregnant
By The Recovery Village | Editor Melissa Carmona
Medically Reviewed By Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN A licensed behavioral health or medical professional on The Recovery Village Editorial Team has analyzed and confirmed every statistic, study and medical claim on this page. | Last Updated: May 26, 2022
The FDA strongly advises against taking cannabidiol (CBD) while pregnant or breastfeeding, as there is not enough research to support its safety.
When a woman becomes pregnant, everything she comes into contact with can potentially affect her fetus. While there are several beneficial products that women can take, such as prenatal vitamins, other substances negatively impact the fetus. These can include certain types of foods, prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal substances.
IS CBD Safe for Pregnant Women?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a compound found within the cannabis plant. Although there is not enough research outlining the beneficial or negative effects of CBD, many people around the world use it for therapeutic purposes. Unlike another common compound found in cannabis (THC), CBD does not provide mind-altering effects.
If you are wondering if you can take CBD oil while pregnant, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly advises against taking CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. There does not yet exist a strong body of research around CBD during pregnancy. Taking CBD while pregnant can pose some harmful risks for babies in the womb. Until the FDA can study more data and answer questions surrounding CBD products and their effects on pregnant and nursing mothers, taking CBD is not recommended.
While using CBD is thought to be safer than smoking cannabis itself or THC-rich products, this does not mean it is safe for pregnant women.
The Effects of CBD on a Fetus
There is a lack of conclusive data to determine the effects of CBD hemp oil on a fetus. To avoid the potential risks on human babies, the few studies conducted on this subject have been on animals.
In one study, CBD exposure in the womb has neurobehavioral consequences. A growing fetus is equipped with an endocannabinoid system (all humans are). Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors and seem to help with early neuron development and cell survival. Artificially manipulating that system early in development had a long-lasting impact on the animal subjects’ brains.
In another study conducted on pregnant mice, CBD doses led to reproductive problems for male fetuses throughout their lives. It is important to note that the results of animal studies may not be transferable to human subjects, so more research is needed.
If you have any questions about using substances or medications while pregnant, including CBD, you should always speak with your doctor before trying anything new. Your doctor can determine if the potential benefits of a particular medication outweigh the risks of using the product during pregnancy.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, seek professional help right away. The Recovery Village has several treatment options for those who are looking to live healthier, substance-free lives. You can find treatment programs in your specific area here.
As the content manager at Advanced Recovery Systems, Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more