Pregnancy and Marijuana: What You Should Know

If you use marijuana while you’re pregnant, you could be putting your baby’s health at risk. Some research indicates that smoking weed or eating cannabis-infused foods (edibles) may increase your baby's chances for:

  • Problems with brain development before birth
  • Stillbirth
  • Premature delivery
  • Smaller size at birth
  • Behavior and attention problems later on

These risks go up for pregnant women who are heavy marijuana users, research shows.

Using marijuana can also harm your own health and, in turn, your pregnancy. Using cannabis increases your risk of:

  • Falling due to dizziness
  • Getting injured because of impaired judgment
  • Having less oxygen in your body, which could lead to breathing trouble
  • Lung problems from smoking weed

You might be tempted to use cannabis to ease morning sickness. But there’s little scientific evidence that it helps. Marijuana isn’t the answer for depression or anxiety while you’re pregnant, either. If you have any of those symptoms, ask your OB-GYN or regular doctor for safer treatments. Lifestyle and diet changes can help, too.

If others smoke or vape cannabis around you, ask them to stop. Secondhand smoke can harm an unborn baby. And marijuana smoke has a lot of the same unhealthy chemicals as tobacco fumes. Breathing in "vapors" from vaping could also expose you to harmful chemicals.

Once your baby arrives, steer clear of marijuana if you plan to breastfeed. You can pass the chemicals in it to your infant through breast milk. Some research shows that breastfed babies whose mothers use cannabis are more sluggish and have more trouble nursing.

Why It’s Risky to Use Marijuana While Pregnant

The ingredient in cannabis that gets you high, a chemical called THC, can affect a baby in the womb. It crosses through the placenta, the organ that nourishes your baby with oxygen and nutrients.

It’s not clear how much THC it takes to cause damage to a baby’s developing brain. But today's marijuana tends to have more THC than that of years past.

Expert groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) say they still don't know about all the ways cannabis use during pregnancy could be harmful. Because we need more research, experts recommend that you play it safe by quitting marijuana if you’re:

Not even medical marijuana is safe, according to ACOG.

If you need help giving up marijuana, talk to your doctor. They may be able to refer you to a therapist or counselor who can help you quit.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 26, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

Addiction: “The associations between prenatal cannabis use disorder and neonatal outcomes.”

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Marijuana and Pregnancy,” "FAQs: Marijuana and Pregnancy."

CDC: “What You Need to Know About Marijuana Use and Pregnancy.”

FDA: “What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Marijuana Use in Pregnancy: Why You Should Just Say No.”

National Institute on Drug Abuse: “Available Treatments for Marijuana Use Disorders.”

American Lung Association: "Don't Be Fooled, E-cig Aerosol Is Not Harmless for Kids."

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