Marijuana is Legal in More States, But is Marijuana Use Safe During Pregnancy?
In my home state of Michigan, many people celebrated recently when marijuana was officially legalized with the November election. I am not one of those people, but hey, if that's you, then you do you. As of November 2018, 33 states have officially passed legislation to make recreational marijuana use legal. In some states, the legislation also extended to the growing of marijuana in one’s home for personal purposes as well.
The laws in other states changed to allow for the decriminalizing of possessing marijuana, and other states, like Virginia, adopted more restrictive limitations, such as cannabis-infused products only, and not straight marijuana to be smoked. Overall, times are clearly changing for marijuana, which has led many people, mothers included, to become more open with their smoking habits.
Moms like Alyssa McBryant, who has two children, have been open with their daily smoking habits and how, in addition to being something that they enjoy, actually have improved their parenting lives. “I do pretend voices … I play restaurant and pretend to eat wooden eggs with a side of plastic chicken leg … This makes my children happy. It fills their buckets. It makes them feel loved. However you want to put it, it accrues domestic happiness all the way around. They feel contented, and I feel like a good mama — no longer rushing around to do the dishes and the laundry, but sitting down to paint suncatchers and let them draw tattoos on the backs of my hand in marker,” McBryant wrote for Scary Mommy.
The point being, some moms love marijuana. But does the newfound acceptance of marijuana extend towards the use of pot during pregnancy?
Here’s what we know: Marijuana seems to help a lot of people, pregnant women included.
Here’s what we don’t know: How exactly marijuana use affects pregnant women.
The issue that doctors are having now is that as marijuana becomes more widely used and accepted, more pregnant women are using it for medical conditions that they either had before pregnancy, such as anxiety or PTSD, or pregnancy-induced conditions, such as morning sickness and hyperemesis. Pregnant women certainly aren’t immune to medical conditions just because they happen to be growing another human, so the question is no longer if pregnant women will smoke marijuana, but what are the risks-benefits to doing so during pregnancy?
Marijuana can even help people get off of a lot of other harmful medications, and because of that, some women are making conscious decisions to continue using marijuana during pregnancy. Some women, when given the choice between using anxiety medications, some with known risks during pregnancy, and marijuana, which, while suspected to have some negative effects, is still not entirely known, go with the unknown.
So far, the best evidence about the use of marijuana during pregnancy is not 100% conclusive: the studies that have been done seem to suggest that it is linked to negative effects on the fetus, including lower birth weight, impaired academic performance, and issues with impulse control in children later in life. The researchers in the studies did note that they are unsure if they can prove it’s the act of smoking itself that causes the issues, or the marijuana, but either way, it’s not looking good. While the studies could not conclude irrefutably that marijuana = bad news for babies, there has been enough evidence to cause legitimate concern.
As at least some preliminary surveys have found, experts suspect that a lot more pregnant women are actually smoking marijuana that they are admitting to, so this is an area of concern for doctors, as they want to give women the answers they need. If marijuana is not safe, then what other solutions can we offer women dealing with things like anxiety or severe morning sickness during pregnancy?
Currently, the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists recommends that all pregnant women, women who are considering getting pregnant, and women who are breastfeeding refrain from marijuana use of any kind. According to their official recommendation, “There are insufficient data to evaluate the effects of marijuana use on infants during lactation and breastfeeding, and in the absence of such data, marijuana use is discouraged.”
Do you think marijuana use should be a personal choice during pregnancy?