When you are with child, your baby gets everything you’re getting. Everything that you eat, drink or ingest in any way, the baby receives through the umbilical cord. Many women begin eating organic foods, quit drinking coffee, take supplements, and refrain from even dying their hair to protect their baby from any harmful chemicals that could cause birth defects or even correlated lifelong illnesses.
However, since many people consider marijuana as a low-tier, mostly non-threatening substance, smoking marijuana while pregnant is not uncommon. In 2009, about 4% of women were reported to be smoke weed during pregnancy. Shockingly, but not entirely surprisingly, that number was nearly doubled by 2016. A study from Kaiser showed that, in 7 years, prenatal marijuana use rose to over 7%. Since the number is rising every year, it’s important to clear up any misconceptions about what smoking weed while pregnant does to both the mother and the baby.
The Developmental Impacts of Smoking Weed During Pregnancy
Many women find that smoking weed while pregnant helps with morning sickness, loss of appetite, insomnia, and other pains associated with pregnancy, although this has not been scientifically proven. Because increased stress can negatively affect the baby and can be distressing for the mother, pregnant women have become more lenient with marijuana use during their pregnancy.
Although they might find relief in the drug, marijuana and pregnancy is a dangerous combination. THC, which is the main chemical in marijuana, can be detrimental to the baby’s health. When a mother ingests THC, the psychoactive component will transfer to the baby’s brain and tissue through the umbilical cord then placenta. Essentially what this means is that when you consume marijuana, your baby consumes marijuana.
It has been shown that using marijuana while pregnant can restrict the flow of blood and oxygen to the placenta, which will inhibit the fetus’s ability to properly develop and can even affect their behavior and overall health later in life. Dozens of studies in recent years have shown that smoking weed while pregnant can cause any of the following conditions:
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Behavioral issues
- An undersized head
- Inhibited brain development
- Drug withdrawal
It doesn’t matter what way you ingest marijuana while pregnant. Whether it be through edibles, creams, dabs, vapes, drinking, or smoking it, it will still affect the babies brain development. However, the act of smoking or vaping is considerably more dangerous than consuming edibles or using topicals, as there are additional chemicals in the smoke alone. In certain extreme and devastating cases, smoking weed while pregnant may result in a stillborn.
Smoking Weed While Breastfeeding
Women are also strongly encouraged to refrain from using marijuana while breastfeeding. This is because, in the same way, that a baby absorbs THC through the umbilical cord, it can also be received it through breastmilk, although the dose that the child receives through the breast milk is only a fraction of what it receives in the womb.
The compounds in marijuana (with the active component THC being the most harmful) are known to bind into a bodies fat deposits in the body, even for as long as three months. Since the nutrients in a mother’s breast milk come from the fat in their breasts, THC and other psychoactive chemicals can be transferred to the child through breastfeeding.
The Effects Of Marijuana Consumption Later In Life
It has been difficult to initiate any sort of studies regarding the effects of marijuana on different groups of people, especially since marijuana is still federally illegal. But with more and more states legalizing recreational and medicinal use of marijuana and others quickly following suit, doctors and scientists are seeing more opportunities to study the drug and its users.
As research on smoking marijuana while pregnant progresses, doctors are able to study children of an older age, typically between the ages of nine and fourteen. Their findings have shown that children whose mothers smoked weed while they were pregnant with them experience difficulties in academics, behavior, and emotional stability later in life. This is likely due to the inhibited brain development that occurred in the womb.
There are already dozens of studies out that show how smoking weed while pregnant may result in numerous birth defects and developmental delays in the child. However, this correlation has not been officially proven and is not entirely accepted in the medical community as fact. Even the claims that marijuana can help with some of the discomforts of pregnancy is not proven. At the end of the day, even the slightest chance that smoking weed during pregnancy deters most mothers away from indulging in the behavior.
If you are a regular marijuana user, we recommend quitting marijuana as soon as you get pregnant and waiting to resume, if you must resume at all, until after breastfeeding. Some people might find it difficult to deal with the withdrawals but it’s okay to ask for help. If you feel as though you need assistance in quitting marijuana, please contact Treatment Centers XL. You don’t have to do this alone.