It is best to refrain from taking CBD while pregnant. Learn more about why you may want to hold off on taking CBD until after baby arrives. Little research is out there on CBD use during pregnancy. We take a closer look. 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.
Can I Use CBD While Pregnant?
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR Family and Scary Mommy, among others.
Verywell Family articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and family healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Andrea Chisolm, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN who has taught at both Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. She has over 20 years of clinical experience and is currently is in practice at Cody Regional Health in Cody, Wyoming.
ronstik / Getty Images
Pregnancy comes with a slew of unpleasant side effects, like extreme nausea or persistent backaches, but many common medications are no longer safe once you have a baby on the way. If you’re on the hunt for something natural to cure your morning sickness, a strained lower back, or even pregnancy-related anxiety, you may start to wonder about CBD.
As wonderful as this substance may seem, it is not safe to use during pregnancy. Although there isn’t enough research yet to say for sure what could go wrong, there are a few potential concerns to know about. And until we know more, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid CBD while pregnant.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a component of the cannabis plant. CBD has many therapeutic benefits, such as helping to alleviate chronic pain, anxiety, and depression, insomnia, and nausea and vomiting. There are a few choices for how to take CBD, including topicals, gum, sublingual drops, and gel caps.
CBD won’t make you stoned, though. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another well-known component of the cannabis plant, CBD does not intoxicate. Many people prefer to use CBD because it gives them the benefits of cannabis without the associated “high.” In general, you can get CBD anywhere in the country, since it’s federally legal.
Is It Safe to Use CBD During Pregnancy?
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says it “strongly advises against” taking CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. You should avoid CBD during pregnancy, largely because its effects on a developing fetus are simply unknown. We do know that THC can enter a developing baby’s brain, so there is reason to believe CBD may be able to as well.
“There is the potential risk that [CBD] could affect embryo implantation and promote miscarriages,” cautions Felice Gersh, MD, a California-based OB/GYN and award-winning author of two books on fertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
The FDA is still collecting data on the exact risks of taking CBD during pregnancy, but until we hear any different, you should not consider CBD as a safe option when you are expecting.
Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking CBD while pregnant.
What If I Use CBD Before Realizing I’m Pregnant?
If you regularly use CBD, or you just happened to try it out before you got that positive pregnancy test, don’t panic. According to Marco Mouanness, MD, an OB/GYN and fertility expert at the Rejuvenating Fertility Center in New York City, you are probably fine. Along with discontinuing your CBD use, he advises reaching out to your OB/GYN so they can monitor you as necessary.
Since we really don’t know enough about CBD’s effects on pregnancy and a developing fetus, we have to rely on what we know about THC, since they are both cannabis components. Animal studies show a connection between THC and early miscarriage, but Dr. Mouanness points out that if you get a positive pregnancy test, you haven’t miscarried. As long as you stop using CBD right away, the earlier CBD use won’t cause miscarriage.
In some cases, your OB/GYN may prescribe progesterone to offset any potential miscarriage risk, notes Dr. Gersh. “Taking supplemental progesterone may provide some protection from the effects of CBD exposure early in pregnancy. [as it] sometimes helps prevent miscarriage.”
CBD is not safe to take during pregnancy. There are a few potential risks to know about.
Potential Risk of Miscarriage
Animal studies have found a link between CBD use and early miscarriage. While animal studies do not directly translate to humans, you may want to stop taking CBD as a precaution if you are actively trying to conceive.
Potential Reproductive Harm
Another animal study linked CBD use in pregnancy with lower sperm production in male offspring. So, if you give birth to a boy, there could be a risk to his future reproductive health. Again, results from animal studies do not always carry over to humans. However, it is best to play it safe.
Worsening of Pregnancy-Related Side Effects
Many people like CBD because of its minimal side effects. However, some people experience tiredness or diarrhea when using CBD. These side effects could negatively affect your pregnancy. No one wants to be even more tired than pregnancy already makes a person, and diarrhea may lead to dehydration—a dangerous state when pregnant.
When Can I Resume Using CBD?
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you should continue to hold off on CBD use. “CBD. will cross into the breast milk and go to the baby,” warns Dr. Gersh.
There is some evidence that CBD in breastmilk may negatively affect infant motor development. And since it stays in your milk for a while, this isn’t something you can “pump and dump.” “Some studies have shown that CBD oil derivatives can be found in breastmilk for up to six days after use,” Dr. Mouanness points out.
Once you have fully weaned your baby from the breast, it is safe to start using CBD again. At this point, there is no longer any risk to your child. There are pros and cons to taking CBD, but those are up to you to discuss with a doctor once you’re no longer sustaining your child with your body.
Pregnancy Safe Alternatives
If you are seeking relief from certain pregnancy symptoms, there are a few natural remedies that may help.
Ginger is an ancient remedy proven to help with nausea and vomiting. Dr. Gersh notes that you can consume ginger in any of its forms, including candied, pickled, or as a tea, to get the positive effects.
If you can’t get the sleep you need, magnesium, an essential vitamin, may help. Magnesium has a calming effect when taken regularly, which, along with promoting good sleep, may help combat anxiety and depression. Taking a magnesium supplement blocks pain receptors, so it may also decrease headaches and other aches and pains.
Dr. Mouanness notes that vitamin B can significantly reduce pregnancy-induced nausea. However, he also points out that you should not take any more vitamin B than the amount already included in your prenatal vitamins unless directed to by a doctor, since we don’t know enough about its effects on a developing fetus.
Be sure to consult with a healthcare provide before starting any new supplements or medications.
A Word From Verywell
CBD has many benefits, but the possible risks to a developing fetus make it unsafe to use during pregnancy. Miscarriage and effects on future fertility or infant motor development are possibly related to its use, and until we learn more, the risk is not worth it.
That doesn’t mean you have to suffer through uncomfortable or unbearable pregnancy side effects, though. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an OB/GYN, midwife, or healthcare provider for ideas on how to safely treat your symptoms.
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Sarrafpour S, Urits I, Powell J, et al. Considerations and implications of cannabidiol use during pregnancy. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2020;24(7):38. doi:10.1007/s11916-020-00872-w
Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: a large case series. The Permanente Journal – Kaiser Permanente. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041.
Parker LA, Rock EM, Limebeer CL. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2011;163(7):1411-1422. DOI:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176.x
Huestis MA, Solimini R, Pichini S, Pacifici R, Carlier J, Busardò FP. Cannabidiol adverse effects and toxicity. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2019;17(10):974-989. doi:10.2174/1570159X17666190603171901
Dalterio SL, DeRooij DG. Maternal cannabinoid exposure Effects on spermatogenesis in male offspring. International Journal of Andrology. 1986;9(4):250-258. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2605.1986.tb00888.x.
Reeves N, Potempa K, Gallo A. Fatigue in early pregnancy: an exploratory study. Journal of Nurse-Midwifery. 1991;36(5):303-309. doi:10.1016/0091-2182(91)90045-Q.
Cannabis. In: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). National Library of Medicine (US); 2006.
Kirkland AE, Sarlo GL, Holton KF. The role of magnesium in neurological disorders. Nutrients. 2018;10(6):730. doi:10.3390/nu10060730.
Na H-S, Ryu J-H, Do S-H. The role of magnesium in pain. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, eds. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System. University of Adelaide Press; 2011.
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.
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.