CBD Oil: Is It Safe to Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding? All What to Expect content that addresses health or safety is medically reviewed by a team of vetted health professionals. Our FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. CBD has been hailed as a remedy for health issues including pain, digestive issues, and insomnia. Could it be the answer to the common symptoms of pregnancy? Find out why this isn’t the case.
CBD Oil: Is It Safe to Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding?
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The use of CBD oil is a popular trend, touted as a remedy for everything from anxiety to nausea. But since it comes from the cannabis plant, is it really okay to try if you’re pregnant?
CBD oil seems to be all the rage these days as a treatment for a whole range of ailments, including stress and pain. The growing acceptance and legality of marijuana in many states has unleashed a flood of CBD oil products on the market. You can find CBD-spiked lattes, gums, candies, lotions and beauty products almost everywhere, with fans hyping their healing powers.
But none have been approved by the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) or regulated in terms of dosage, formulation or method of delivery. And though CBD oil, which comes from the cannabis plant, doesn’t seem to be addictive, it has not been shown to be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
What is CBD oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting the essence with a neutral, usually edible oil. Unlike THC, pot’s most active ingredient — and the one that gets you high — CBD is touted for its medicinal properties but doesn’t give you a buzz.
People use CBD oil by putting a few drops under the tongue, applying it to the skin or inhaling a vapor made from the oil. Proponents say it has a calming effect that helps with stress and sleep.
What is CBD oil used for?
Most people who use CBD oil are seeking relief from insomnia, pain, anxiety, depression or nausea. While there is research on its use as a treatment for a variety of more serious conditions, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, anxiety and even traumatic brain injury, doctors warn that it can interfere with other medications and may cause side effects including depression.
Is CBD oil safe to use during pregnancy?
While there’s scant research on the use of CBD oil during pregnancy, experts say to avoid it.
More on Pot, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy should not use marijuana or any of its byproducts, including medical marijuana.
Studies show that marijuana use during pregnancy can lead to smaller babies with a lower birth weight and other unwanted outcomes.For that reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), ACOG and the U.S. surgeon general all warn pregnant women not to smoke or vape marijuana or use any byproducts.
Don’t be alarmed if you sipped a CBD-spiked soda before learning you’re pregnant, however (but do mention it to your practitioner). Though there is evidence that the active ingredients in marijuana can harm a developing baby, the existing research has looked mainly at repeated, regular pot use among pregnant women.
If you are pregnant and tempted to try CBD oil, the best thing to do is to discuss it with your doctor. He or she can offer other, pregnancy-safe ways to improve your symptoms, and advise you of all the potential risks and side effects of CBD oil — both for you and the baby.
What are the possible risks or downsides of using CBD oil while pregnant?
Comprehensive research on healthy pregnant women and CBD doesn’t yet exist. But even the lowest-dose products aren’t considered safe during pregnancy.
Research shows that when moms smoke or eat marijuana, chemicals cross the placenta and reach the fetus. Exposure to marijuana could disrupt normal fetal brain development and increase your risk of giving birth to a smaller or even stillbirth baby, although there is no data to suggest CBD oil alone carries the same risks.
Nonetheless, CBD oil is a new and largely unregulated market. There are scores of case reports of products marketed as “pure” CBD contaminated with substances you want nowhere near a growing baby, including THC, pesticides, toxic metals and bacteria.
Is CBD oil safe to use while breastfeeding? What are some of the risks?
While there are no studies on the use of CBD oil use while breastfeeding, experts advise against that too. Studies show that chemicals ingested during marijuana use can be passed through breast milk, potentially affecting your little one (though there are no studies that directly show how CBD oil could affect a nursing baby).
Another reason to skip CBD oil while nursing: Using it could make you feel sleepy or slightly intoxicated, so you risk having impaired judgement while caring for your child.
What are alternatives to CBD oil when I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
During pregnancy, your body creates a warm, nurturing environment for your baby — and a cascade of uncomfortable symptoms for you.
Surging hormones, shifting fluids and a burgeoning bump in your midsection can cause nausea (in the morning and anytime, especially during the first trimester), insomnia, moodiness and anxiety. Coping with drugs or alcohol isn’t safe, but there are a range of options to manage your symptoms and help you feel better:
One surprising strategy for nipping nausea in the bud is to eat, even if the thought of food turns your stomach. Try munching on smaller snacks and meals more often, and make sure your stomach never gets completely empty (that’s when you’re more likely to retch).
Keep plenty of food on hand. Ask someone who isn’t dizzy with nausea to run to the store and stock your kitchen with tummy-soothers like plain crackers, bananas and soups, and make sure you keep something to nosh on by your bedside.
Avoid highly spiced, fried or greasy foods, which can upset your stomach even if you aren’t pregnant. Some moms-to-be swear by ginger — in candies or steeped and sipped as tea. Others say crunching ice or sucking fresh lemon juice helps soothe their stomachs.
If these and other drug-free queasiness cures don’t do the trick, ask your doctor about prescription medication for severe nausea. And remember — there is no evidence that marijuana in any form is helpful with morning sickness.
If you’ve already tried warm milk, bubble baths and foot massages to soothe you to sleep during your pregnancy, you can ask your doctor about over-the-counter or even prescription medications that are safe to take.
No matter how exhausted you feel, don’t take any sleep aid — including herb teas or “natural” supplements — without consulting your practitioner.
Anxiety and depression
Moodiness, irrational fears and crying fits can hit when you least expect them, even if you’re thrilled about your pregnancy. Surging hormones, your changing body, social isolation and lack of sleep can all conspire to make you feel worried, stressed or down.
What to do? Studies suggest talk therapy, light therapy and making sure you take care of yourself can help alleviate your feelings. Share how you feel about with your practitioner, and don’t take any medications without her okay. Some antidepressants are safe for use during pregnancy.
Carrying a baby and caring for a newborn are intense experiences, both emotionally and physically. But don’t succumb to the urge to try CBD oil. There’s evidence to suggest it isn’t safe for you or your baby, and there are plenty of other ways to help you navigate the less pleasant side effects of pregnancy and the postpartum stage.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding
FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Cannabis and Cannabis-derived products have become increasingly available in recent years, with new and different types of products appearing all the time. These products raise questions and concerns for many consumers. And if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you might have even more questions about whether these products are safe for you.
FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
What are cannabis, marijuana, hemp, THC and CBD?
Cannabis is a plant of the Cannabaceae family and contains more than eighty biologically active chemical compounds. The most commonly known compounds are THC and CBD. One type of cannabis plant is marijuana, which contains varying levels of THC, the compound that produces the “high” that is often associated with marijuana. Another type of cannabis plant is hemp. Hemp plants contain extremely low amounts of THC. CBD, which does not produce a “high,” can be derived from either marijuana or hemp.
We are now seeing CBD-containing products everywhere. CBD can be found in many different products, like drugs, foods, products marketed as dietary supplements, and cosmetics. These products often make questionable health promises about CBD.
FDA wants you to know there may be serious risks to using cannabis products, including those containing CBD, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What do we know about the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding?
There are many potential negative health effects from using marijuana and other products containing THC during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General recently advised consumers that marijuana use during pregnancy may affect fetal brain development, because THC can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream. The Surgeon General also advised that marijuana may increase the risk of a newborn with low birth weight. Research also suggests increased risk for premature birth and potentially stillbirth 1 .
While breastfeeding, it is important to know that breastmilk can contain THC for up to six days after use. This THC may affect a newborn’s brain development and result in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and other long-term consequences.
Additionally, marijuana smoke contains many of the same harmful components as tobacco smoke. Neither marijuana nor tobacco products should be smoked around a baby or children.
What do we know about the effects of CBD use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding?
There is no comprehensive research studying the effects of CBD on the developing fetus, pregnant mother, or breastfed baby. FDA is continuing to collect and study the data on the possible harmful effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. However, based on what we do know, there is significant cause for concern.
High doses of CBD in pregnant test animals have caused problems with the reproductive system of developing male fetuses 2 . In addition, based on what we already know about CBD, we expect that some amount of CBD will be transferred to babies through breast milk.
We also know that there is a potential for CBD products to be contaminated with substances that may pose a risk to the fetus or breastfed baby, including THC. We have also heard reports of CBD potentially containing other contaminants (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus); we are investigating this.
Moreover, CBD has known risks for people in general. Based on clinical studies in humans, risks can include the following:
- liver toxicity (damage)
- extreme sleepiness
- harmful interactions with other drugs
FDA is studying the effects of CBD use from different angles, such as: (1) the use of CBD-containing products, like food, cosmetics, or supplements, over a person’s entire life; and (2) the effects of using these various products in combination. There are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD.
We especially want to learn more about the effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, including, for example, whether and to what extent the presence of CBD in human milk harms the breastfed baby or the mother’s milk production.
Has FDA approved any CBD products and are there any benefits?
FDA has not approved any CBD products except for one prescription drug to treat rare, severe forms of seizure disorders in children. It is still unclear whether CBD has any other benefits.
Other than the one approved prescription drug, CBD products have not been evaluated or approved by FDA for use as drug products. This means that we do not know:
- if they are safe and effective to treat a particular disease
- what, if any, dosage may be considered safe
- how they could interact with other drugs or foods
- whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns
The clinical studies that supported the approval of the one available CBD drug product identified risks related to the use of CBD, including liver toxicity (damage), extreme sleepiness, and harmful interactions with other drugs.
What about hemp seeds?
FDA recently completed an evaluation of some hemp seed-derived food ingredients and had no objections to the use of these ingredients in foods. THC and CBD are found mainly in hemp flowers, leaves, and stems, not in hemp seeds. Hemp seeds can pick up miniscule amounts of THC and CBD from contact with other plant parts, but these amounts are low enough to not raise concerns for any group, including pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
What should you remember about using cannabis or cannabis-derived products?
If you are considering using cannabis, or any products containing THC or CBD, you should be aware of the following:
- FDA strongly advises that during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, you avoid using CBD, THC, or marijuana in any form.
- Although many of these products are being sold, FDA has not approved these products, other than one prescription CBD drug product and two prescription drug products containing dronabinol, a synthetic version of THC (which are approved to treat certain side effects of HIV-AIDS or chemotherapy). All three of these prescription products have associated risks and side effects.
- Always talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before taking any medicines, vitamins, or herbs while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Do not put yourself or your baby at risk by using cannabis products while pregnant or breastfeeding. Check out these links to learn more about cannabis, marijuana, CBD, and THC, and about taking medicines while you are pregnant.
CBD and Pregnancy: What You Should Know
If you’re having pregnancy symptoms, maybe you’ve wondered if CBD (cannabidiol) can bring you relief. CBD is a compound in marijuana and hemp that doesn’t get you high. And products with CBD in it are becoming more and more popular. Manufacturers use it in things like foods, drinks, beauty products, and supplements.
Some pregnant women consider using CBD for symptoms like:
or vomiting from morning sickness or stress
It’s a bad idea to take CBD for any of these reasons, though. The FDA urges women not to use cannabis or any type of CBD product while pregnant or breastfeeding. It could be dangerous for you and your baby.
Why It’s Risky
For one thing, we need a lot more research into the effects of CBD on pregnant mothers and unborn babies. Experts mainly have animal studies to go on. For instance, researchers who gave pregnant test animals high doses of CBD noticed problems in the reproductive systems of male fetuses. That doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing would happen in people, but the FDA says it’s concerned by the finding.
It’s also possible for CBD products to be contaminated with things that could be dangerous for a developing or nursing baby, like THC. That’s the chemical in cannabis that gets you high. Experts advise all women to avoid THC while pregnant and breastfeeding. It may affect a baby’s brain development in the womb. It can also raise the chances of stillbirth or premature birth. THC can pass to an infant through breast milk, and experts think this can happen with CBD as well.
The FDA has gotten reports of CBD products possibly being contaminated with other things, like:
- Heavy metals
What’s more, studies show that CBD poses risks for everyone, like liver damage and extreme sleepiness. It could also hurt your health by affecting medications you take.
Approved Uses for CBD
It has one approved medical use: a prescription drug that treats certain rare, severe types of seizure disorders in kids.
Otherwise, the FDA doesn’t review supplements like it does medications. So if you see a CBD pill, oil, capsule, or liquid with a package that makes health claims, be skeptical of its promises. And don’t take it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. If you’re having pregnancy symptoms, ask your doctor or OB-GYN for a safer treatment instead.
In general, don’t take a new supplement without talking to your doctor first. They can let you know whether it’s likely to be safe and effective for you.
FDA: “What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding,” “FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy.”
UCLA: “Looking for relief, pregnant women turn to marijuana despite medical advice.”
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Marijuana and Pregnancy.”