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:
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.
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.
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 about hemp seeds?
FDA wants you to know there may be serious risks to using cannabis products, including those containing CBD, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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.
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.
What do we know about the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding?
If you are considering using cannabis, or any products containing THC or CBD, you should be aware of the following:
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.
One reason you might think CBD is safe for nursing mothers is the fact that mother's milk naturally contains cannabinoids, similar to CBD. These cannabinoids may help stimulate a newborn's appetite. In fact, they work on the same receptors that are activated when people get the munchies from consuming THC. However, don't assume a case of "the more the merrier," says Thomas. Geary, too, warns there's a big difference between what the body produces naturally and the "artificially imported chemicals" in commercial CBD. She adds, "Women have been breastfeeding forever. Mother's milk contains no impurities, no chemicals or pesticides, and no chance of an overdose."
Try to use nursing sessions as a time to pause and reset, letting the oxytocin that's released during breastfeeding help you enter a state of calm. Play soothing music or a guided meditation, practice deep breathing, and remember that this stage of life is temporary.
Nursing offers an unparalleled host of benefits to both mother and child. According to a comprehensive 2013 review, the nutritional, immunological, and anti-inflammatory properties of breastmilk provide health advantages to a nursing baby, including reduced risks of asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, ear and respiratory infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Nursing mothers experience a lowered risk of disease, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and ovarian and breast cancer, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But that's not all. Breastfeeding is credited with positive psychosocial outcomes, most noticeably through the bond that develops between mother and child. As such, leading organizations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorse breastfeeding for at least 12 months of a child's life. Such consensus around the benefits of breastfeeding have resulted in an uptick in mothers who nurse, with the CDC reporting 58.3% of infants breastfeeding at 6 months in 2017.
Topical vs. Ingestible Use of CBD When Breastfeeding
Increased duration of breastfeeding does, however, extend the postpartum period, which, as you probably know, may result in fatigue, interrupted sleep, and the emotional pressure that can accompany feeding a little one 24/7. As wonderful as breastfeeding may be, it can also be overwhelming, leaving nursing mothers exhausted and in need of relief; after all, being a source of unconditional comfort is draining. Widely available CBD might seem like a godsend, offering an instant feeling of calm without a hangover or any of the psychoactive effects of marijuana. But here's the rub: Even though CBD is natural, we don't yet know how CBD affects a developing baby and child, and what the longterm effects might be to a baby who has been exposed to CBD through breastmilk.
Meet the Expert
Risks of Using CBD When Breastfeeding
Geary (who notes that as a pediatrician with a license to provide medical marijuana —CBD and THC products—she's not an anti-marijuana doctor), says using CBD when breastfeeding just isn't a safe gamble. "During the time of the developing fetus, through until age three years of life, the infant's brain reaches 80% of its full adult volume. Any unnecessary exposure, especially in those vulnerable first three years, is worth considering very seriously."
This means you can't pump and feel confident the CBD is out of your system, like you might after say, drinking a glass of wine. "CBD takes longer to metabolize and process through the body than alcohol," says Thomas. "We know that cannabinoids stick to the fatty parts of breast milk and hang out longer."
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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
No matter how exhausted you feel, don’t take any sleep aid — including herb teas or “natural” supplements — without consulting your practitioner.
While there’s scant research on the use of CBD oil during pregnancy, experts say to avoid it.
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.
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).