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Breastfeeding and Cannabis: Where's the Data?

Breastfeeding and Cannabis: Where's the Data?

Jenna Goldring

As a new mom, navigating the postpartum period has been an intense journey of love, learning, and constant adaptation. Among the many decisions I've faced, one particularly challenging area has been understanding the implications of cannabis consumption while breastfeeding. It's a topic shrouded in uncertainty, largely due to the glaring lack of comprehensive research, leaving mothers like me in a fog of doubt and concern.

The journey into motherhood has heightened my awareness of the substances I consume, knowing they can affect my baby.

Cannabis, for instance, is a substance that has found its way into mainstream acceptance in many parts of the world for its medicinal and recreational benefits. Yet, when it comes to breastfeeding, the conversation around cannabis use is often muted, surrounded by cautionary advice but little solid evidence.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Surgeon General advise against the use of cannabis while breastfeeding, citing potential risks to the baby, including possible effects on brain development. These cautions are based on the premise that THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, can be transferred to the baby through breast milk.

However, the underlying issue is the scarcity of research that quantitatively measures these risks and their long-term implications.

As a mom, this lack of information is frustrating. I wish for a landscape where evidence-based guidelines could offer clear direction. It's not about advocating for or against cannabis use during breastfeeding but about having access to reliable data that empowers informed decisions. The uncertainty complicates an already challenging time, making it harder to balance personal well-being with the optimal care for our babies.

The calls for research are not just about understanding potential risks but also about exploring benefits. Cannabis has been reported to help with postpartum depression, anxiety, and pain management, conditions that are notably prevalent among new mothers. Yet, without solid research, healthcare providers are left without the tools to properly advise breastfeeding mothers who might benefit from cannabis in managing these conditions.

This void in knowledge is a call to action for the scientific community to prioritize studies on cannabis consumption and breastfeeding.

It's a matter of public health and the well-being of both mothers and their children. As our society continues to evolve in its understanding and acceptance of cannabis, so too should our grasp of its full spectrum of effects, especially in such critical areas as breastfeeding.

In the meantime, mothers like me are left navigating this gray area, making the best decisions we can with the limited information available. We rely on discussions with healthcare providers, anecdotal evidence, and our intuition, all the while wishing for a future where the veil of uncertainty is lifted. More research could not only clarify the risks but also potentially unlock new understandings of how to support postpartum health and well-being.

I made the personal decision to abstain from cannabis use until after I had completely stopped breastfeeding, following current medical guidelines. This choice wasn't easy, especially considering the potential relief it could have offered from the stress and anxiety that often accompany breastfeeding. It's incredibly frustrating to see a wealth of data on alcohol, another substance, suggesting it's okay to consume in low doses while breastfeeding, yet virtually nothing substantial about cannabis. This disparity in information left me feeling unsupported and deprived of what could have been a beneficial tool for managing my mental health during such a demanding time in my life. 

My hope is that the coming years will see a significant shift in the attention given to this issue. As cannabis continues to integrate into medical and personal use, understanding its interaction with breastfeeding is not just beneficial but necessary. For the sake of all mothers and babies, let's advocate for and support the research that can light the way forward.

Always consult your doctor for personalized medical advice and if you are pregnant of breastfeeding. For more information on cannabis and breastfeeding please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/vaccinations-medications-drugs/marijuana.html#:~:text=Data%20on%20the%20effects%20of,those%20containing%20CBD%2C%20while%20breastfeeding

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