The debate on whether marijuana should be legal is one that is happening worldwide. Canada has recently legalized marijuana with strict regulations in place, and cannabis is legal in many states in the United States of America. What renders this debate to be legitimate is the medicinal value it may hold for patients going through intense pain owing to their medical condition. Marijuana does not cause any direct damage to the human body and the only reason it has been banned is owing to the fact that it may work as a gateway drug that encourages substance abuse. In areas where it has been legalized, men and women are allowed to use it cope with other medical conditions.
Many women may consider using marijuana to sleep better during the months of pregnancy or even after childbirth. The fact that marijuana can help new mothers sleep better is compelling, but marijuana and breastfeeding do not go together. Definite effects of marijuana on breast milk has been found in medical testing which renders it definitely harmful for the baby.
Read More: Smoking Weed While Pregnant
What is marijuana?
Marijuana, more popularly known as cannabis, is a drug of a psychoactive nature that may be obtained from the cannabis plant. The plant may be used to produce a series of chemical compounds which can stimulate a human being, allowing for it to be used as a recreational drug with medicinal characteristics. Over the years the drug has earned a number of names- weed, pot, grass, ganja, to name a few- and has played a definite role in shaping the cool quotient in pop culture.
The substance that gives us the feeling of being ‘high’ is tetrahydrocannabinol present in marijuana that is used largely for recreational purposes. Cannabis in herbal medication is used mainly in CBD or Cannabidiol may or may not have tetrahydrocannabinol, which is harmful for the baby. Marijuana while breastfeeding can stunt the developmental process.
Can you take marijuana before or after breastfeeding?
Mothers breastfeeding their children should strictly refrain because smoking marijuana and breastfeeding simultaneously can be extremely harmful for the baby. Unlike other food and drugs, the human body takes a long time to metabolize cannabis, which is stored in the adipose tissue cells. The breast tissue in the body of a woman is made up mostly of adipose tissue, which implies that the storage unit of marijuana is also too close to the source of breast milk production and secretion. Consuming alcohol may have a simple solution where you can pump out the milk for one or two cycles to get rid of any alcohol present in breast milk. But the slow absorption of cannabis makes the combination of breastfeeding and marijuana extremely unsafe for the baby. Marijuana cannot be safely consumed by a woman breastfeeding her own child.
Marijuana and Breastfeeding: Effects on Marijuana on Breastfeeding
There have been a series of medical tests done to test the correlation between marijuana and breastfeeding. While no conclusive theory has been derived from such experimentation, experts agree that the overall effects of marijuana on breast milk, and subsequently on the baby, are harmful in nature.
Here are some of the ways in which marijuana can affect your child:
Lack of alertness on your part
The effects of marijuana as a psychoactive drug is well known and if you have smoked weed in your past, you must be aware of the kind of effect it can have on your senses. With an infant baby to take care of, you need to be aware and alert at all times to be careful and avoid any situation that can cause harm to your baby. Smoking marijuana while breastfeeding indicates a lack of awareness on your part, however temporary, that can put your baby in danger.
The duration for which a mother could breastfeed her child was found to be longer for women who did not smoke marijuana, as opposed to women who did. Some studies have found these results, which implies that your baby may not be getting the nutrition she or he needs while you simultaneously engage in breastfeeding and marijuana.
The effects of marijuana on breast milk when passed on to your child can have serious consequences stunting wholesome development. Three main areas are affected with regard to the development of a baby when exposed to marijuana- the strength, movement and coordination. Some studies have shown that smoking marijuana and breastfeeding may also adversely affect the nervous system of the child.
Read More: 31 Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom and Baby
Slow weight gain
The increase in weight indicates that the baby is receiving enough nutrition through mother’s milk. Some studies have shown that in case of women smoking marijuana and breastfeeding at the same time can make a baby drowsy and sleepy, causing the child to eat less and therefore develop slowly. Especially in babies born before their time or with a birth weight which is lower than usual, exposure to marijuana through breast milk can seriously affect their health.
While cannabis may have provided relief to you at an earlier time, it is entirely too risky for your child if you are breastfeeding your baby. For a more expert opinion you may consult your doctor about the effects of marijuana on breast milk and come up with an option of Cannabidiol without tetrahydrocannabinol, but it is best to avoid any medication related to cannabis at this stage in your life. Your child has only one chance to develop properly and marijuana can cause serious damage in the developmental stage of your baby.