This page is for people who are taking Chilbdirth Preparation or Parenting the Newborn Classes with us, who need a little more information about Cannabis use during pregnancy or lactation.  If, as you go along your parenting and lactation journey, you find cannabis resources you feel we should share, please let us know. We would be happy to do so!

Cannabis and Pregnancy

What do we know?

  • We know that the active compound in Cannabis, THC, crosses the placenta and is passed to the baby. THC is present in cannabis that is smoked, vaped, and ingested.
  • We know that THC can accumulate in body tissue and be released into the pregnant person’s bloodstream, and therefore the baby’s, for up to 30 days after stopping use.
  • We know that the psychoactive properties of cannabis can negatively affect the heart rate, blood pressure, mental health, and cognitive abilities of the pregnant person.
  • We know that THC passed to an infant in utero can increase their risk of low birth weight, stillbirth, preterm birth, and impaired brain development and behavioural function in the short and long term.
  • We know that parents who smoke/vape cannabis have similar health issues for themselves and their fetus as smoking tobacco during pregnancy, which includes increasing the risk of SIDS for their child once born.

The recommendation from Health Canada, SOGC and others, is that there is no known safe amount of cannabis for people who are pregnant, and pregnant people should refrain from using it, including for the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, and perinatal mood disorders.  If someone is using cannabis for medicinal purposes, it is recommended to speak with a healthcare provider to find an alternative.

What don’t we know?

  • We do not know the extent of growth and cognitive delay that potentially affects infants who are exposed to THC in utero.  More research is needed to determine the potential for and extent of long term effects.
  • We don’t know if another compound in cannabis, CBD, is safe to use during pregnancy.  We have very limited research on the effects of CBD on pregnant people and their infants.

Cannabis and Lactation

What do we know?

  • We know that the active compound in cannabis, THC, passes into human milk, can remain there after the psychoactive effects wane. With repeated use, THC can accumulate in the milk over time.  THC is present in cannabis that is smoked, vaped, and ingested.
  • We know that the psychoactive properties can negatively affect a parent’s ability to feed and care for their child while using cannabis.
  • We know that THC ingested by an infant through human milk can make the baby extra sleepy, which can negatively affect their feeding behaviours, and potentially affect their growth and cognitive development.
  • We know that cannabis can impact the quantity and quality of human milk, often leading to low milk production in the lactating parent.
  • We know that parents who smoke/vape cannabis increase the risk of SIDS for their child, due to the exposure to secondhand and thirdhand smoke.

The recommendation from Health Canada, SOGC and others, is that there is no known safe amount of cannabis for people who are breast/chestfeeding, and lactating people should refrain from using it.  If someone is using cannabis for medicinal purposes, it is recommended to speak with a healthcare provider to find an alternative while nursing.

What don’t we know?

  • We don’t know exactly how long THC remains in human milk after it is used in the lactating parent.  Levels have been detected weeks after cessation of use in people who use cannabis a lot.
  • We do not know the extent of growth and cognitive delay that potentially affects infants who ingest THC through human milk.  More research is needed to determine the potential for and extent of long term effects.
  • We don’t know if another compound in cannabis, CBD, passes into human milk, although it is known to be stored in fatty tissue such as in breasts.  We have very limited research on the effects of CBD on lactating parents and their infants.
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