Taking CBD During Pregnancy: Possible Benefits and Risks

Taking CBD During Pregnancy: Possible Benefits and Risks

Laws and public opinions are changing surrounding CBD, cannabis and cannabis-related products. Seemingly out of nowhere, a whole range of CBD-containing products has emerged in the market thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed legal restrictions on CBD if it’s derived from hemp and has a delta-9 THC level below 0.3%. There are CBD products for pets, for anxiety, for depression and just about anything else. Many of them show promising effects, but others seem to be nothing more than snake oil sold by people hoping to capitalize on a trend.

Many pregnant women are now wondering whether they can take advantage of the benefits that CBD products offer to treat health complications and side effects of pregnancy, like morning sickness. But is it safe for pregnant women?

In general, though CBD hasn’t been proven to have any negative effects on pregnant women, it’s also not well known enough to be generally recognized as safe. The FDA and most major health organizations recommend against using it, but we’ll take a closer look at this pressing question in the article below.

What Is CBD?

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, comes from cannabis and hemp plants and is the second most prevalent compound in the plant, right after THC. It is a cannabinoid that possesses little psychoactive effects, although a small number of users will feel some type of effect due to how their body reacts to the compound.

CBD has long been known to offer a wide variety of health benefits, and there have been numerous research studies that have looked at how CBD affects the endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD has be used to treat many things, including:

  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic pain
  • Opioid use disorders
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Inflammation

The FDA recently approved a CBD-containing medication called Epidiolex, and many more medications are coming out that contain this chemical compound. It is seen as nature’s miracle in many ways, which is why many people are interested in using this compound for medical purposes.

CBD Products Approved by the FDA

Other than with Epidiolex, the FDA has not approved any other medical CBD products. This means that you should be wary of using any CBD-containing products for medical purposes, because they are not regulated by the FDA. You don’t know what dosage is considered safe and whether CBD is really safe and effective for treating various ailments. Individual results and dosages might vary, and you won’t know whether CBD may interact with any other drugs or foods. You also won’t know whether there are any things that you need to be concerned with when using CBD-containing products on a regular basis.

Side Effects of CBD

CBD is not all glitters and gold. Although most people won’t experience any side effects at all, some non-pregnant women using CBD have experienced the following side effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Mild nausea

Some people have also found that taking CBD with certain prescription medications can intensify the side effects experienced.

There’s no guarantee that a pregnant woman taking CBD won’t experience the side effects above, which may be the very reason they’re taking CBD to begin with. For example, a pregnant woman struggling with morning sickness may want to take CBD to treat mild nausea, fatigue and dizziness; however, CBD may actually exacerbate these symptoms and make them worse. There’s really no guarantee that you wouldn’t experience any side effects.

On top of all that, some other studies have demonstrated that CBD can cause liver problems, which is the last thing that anyone needs.

Can Pregnant Women Use CBD?

There is insufficient research on the effects and risks of CBD and pregnancy. Certain cultures use marijuana during pregnancy with seemingly no negative impact. In fact, generations have done this without noticing any major problems.

A recent five-year follow-up of rural Jamaican children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy found that there were no significant differences in developmental testing outcomes between the children of marijuana-using and non-using mothers. This may be an indication that CBD, which is contained in all marijuana, may not be harmful to the baby if used by pregnant mothers.

One study has found a correlation between marijuana use and lower birth weight; however, the study looked at women who smoked cannabis. CBD-containing products often have little to no THC, which is the primary psychoactive component of the plant, so the results may not mean anything with regards to pure CBD.

With that said, some studies conducted on animals, like rats, have the opposite results. In one of the studies, scientists exposed pregnant mice to CBD, and found that CBD had a long-lasting impact on the fetal brain. This is because most growing babies are already equipped with an endocannabinoid system, as CBD ingested by the mother can bind to the receptors in the baby.

At the end of the day, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly advises pregnant women to avoid CBD while pregnant. The same can be said for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which also recommends against marijuana use during pregnancy.

Can Breastfeeding Women Use CBD?

But, what about when you’re not pregnant anymore? Can you use CBD then if you’re breastfeeding? Will the CBD affect the baby?

The answer for this is also debatable. While there isn’t any conclusive research that has looked at the effects of CBD on the baby, THC can pass through breast milk and enter the baby’s body. Due to this reason, most experts also recommend against using any CBD-containing products at this time as well, since the assumption is that CBD can also pass to the baby through breast milk.

At this moment, no one really knows whether CBD could have an adverse, negative effect on your baby’s development if ingested through breast milk. Still, most experts recommend being safe rather than sorry and suggest avoiding CBD-containing products altogether until there’s more research out there.

Some experts have other concerns, too. CBD can treat insomnia and cause users to feel sleepy. These experts are concerned that pregnant women who use CBD may cause these mothers to be less alert while caring for their babies.

Types of CBD

When you look for CBD-containing products on shelves, you’ll find that products like CBD oil, CBD tinctures and CBD gummies, each of which will often use three different terms: full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate. While these products all contain CBD, they contain different types of CBD.

You need to get a good idea of the differences between them all to figure out which type might be best suited for your needs.

Full-Spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD comes from hemp plants that contain less than 0.3% THC. These CBD-containing products contain other cannabinoids, including terpenes, so you’ll get to enjoy what’s known as the entourage effect of marijuana.

This is when all of the cannabinoids come together to enhance the potency and effects of CBD. You’ll usually find full-spectrum CBD in gummies, oils and tinctures. The problem with this is that the small amounts of THC and other cannabinoids in full-spectrum CBD products can also influence the baby and the mother.

Broad-Spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD is a bit more refined. It usually contains some other cannabinoids added in, but it is a blend of cannabinoids that typically excludes THC. If you take a product containing broad-spectrum CBD, you’ll still be able to pass a marijuana drug test. You can also find broad-spectrum CBD in gummies, oils and tinctures, like with full-spectrum CBD.

The other cannabinoids that are found in broad-spectrum CBD are not psychoactive, and are usually compounds that you can find in other plants. For example, limonene helps with relaxation and can also be found in many citrus plants, like lemons.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is refined, pure CBD that usually comes in the form of a powder that you’d ingest or add to other substances. CBD isolate can also be added to gummies and other types of edibles or eaten as-is.

Because CBD isolate is more refined, this type of product is usually a bit more expensive than full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD. The good thing about this is that it can help users gauge how useful and effective CBD may be for them, as there is nothing else in the product.

How Do I Take CBD?

If you purchase a CBD gummy, you’d eat it, but what do you do with CBD tinctures and oils? You can use these CBD products in different ways. You can either squeeze two or three drops under your tongue for it to get absorbed into your body that way or you can add it to your food and eat it.

Some people will even use CBD tinctures and oils as topical ointments. For example, you can rub CBD oil on inflamed parts of their body. Since CBD can pass through the skin barrier, the assumption is that it will reach the inflamed areas and work its magic—though like many things in the world of CBD, this hasn’t been medically proven.

Alternatives to CBD While Pregnant

Since there is so much controversy surrounding CBD and pregnancy, it’s better to look for alternatives that are recommended by healthcare experts instead. Let’s take a look at some common suggestions that can help with managing other symptoms.

Anxiety and Stress

The thought of having a baby soon can be very stressful and anxiety-inducing. Some pregnant women feel like they’re walking on eggshells or constantly stressed out because they don’t know what to expect and what to prepare for. Anxiety and stress can also stem from physical and hormonal changes.

Instead of taking CBD-containing products to deal with stress and anxiety, consider therapy or even relaxation exercises. Try to meditate throughout the day and even do some yoga or other stress-relieving exercises.

Morning Sickness

Approximately 70% of pregnant women will struggle with morning sickness. They’ll feel nauseous and won’t be able to stomach any food at all. If you’re thinking of using CBD to treat nausea and morning sickness, the good news is that there are many other alternative solutions! There’s also no evidence that CBD helps treat morning sickness at all.

The key to feeling better is to munch on smaller snacks and meals. Try to go for foods that are high in carbs, like plain crackers. You can also try drinking ginger tea or lemon tea. Another trick is to find out what your triggers are and to avoid them. For example, some women will feel nauseous if they eat anything spicy while others may feel sick if they eat chocolate or sugary foods.


A lot of pregnant women will also struggle to sleep. They might find themselves constantly tossing and turning at night because of leg cramps or because they have too much energy. There are many natural solutions to this. If you can’t go to sleep because of leg cramps, consider taking magnesium supplements. They’ll help your muscles relax and prevent them from contracting.

If you have too much energy, do some exercise throughout the day. Many experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise several times a week. Take up a pregnancy yoga class or go for a short walk around the block. It’ll help burn off some of that energy and feel more refreshed.

If all else fails, try to relax by drinking warm milk or getting a massage from your partner before you go to sleep. Aromatherapy can really help lull you to sleep. Your doctor may even be able to prescribe you some medications as well. Just make sure that you don’t take any sleep aids without consulting with your healthcare professional.

CBD Is Not Recommended During Pregnancy

The bottom line is this. Most experts do not recommend taking CBD while pregnant due to the fact that there is limited research on its effects. If you are currently using CBD-containing products, you should look for alternatives before getting pregnant, and if you’re currently pregnant, you’ll want to shy away from CBD until you’re finished breastfeeding.

If you have any further questions on CBD use during pregnancy or when breastfeeding, speak with a healthcare professional. If you are currently taking CBD-containing products, it might be time to look for other alternatives before getting pregnant.