Marijuana and Pregnancy
Will Smoking Pot Harm my Baby?
Stoner ladies who are currently expecting, or soon plan to try for pregnancy, likely have one dominant thought in the front of their mind—will continuing to use marijuana throughout my pregnancy negatively affect my baby? Many proponents argue cannabis use during pregnancy leads to far fewer—and less severe—side effects than the use of alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy. While this claim is true in many senses, it can prove quite difficult to argue in favor of heavy, or even moderate to frequent use, during pregnancy.
Other things that hurt your baby:
Consider the number of negative side effects which can result from a series of other substances and conditions:
- Smoking cigarettes
- Drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages
- Eating raw meat
- Excessive exercise
- Exposure to certain chemicals (cat litter!)
Today, stress is a virtually certain factor in daily life and will affect a pregnant woman to some degree. Expecting mothers in 2017 are subject to extreme stress caused by:
- Finances (existing debt, future debts owed to the unborn child)
- Work emails/projects, etc. (many women work throughout their entire pregnancy)
- Other children
- Pregnancy-related stress (ailments mentioned above, hormones, etc.)
These daily stresses do more damage than one might assume. High levels of stress during pregnancy often lead to premature birth and low birth weight. Beyond this, high-stress levels may contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease factors later in the child’s life. An act as simple as changing the cat’s litter box can prove detrimental to a pregnant woman. Toxoplasmosis can infect the fetus via the placenta, causing congenital disabilities including eye damage, blindness, and in some cases, brain damage.
These things considered, it is evident just how careful an expecting mother must be to ensure the growth and well-being of the fetus. These common factors and behaviors pose notable risks during pregnancy. Moderate cannabis use during pregnancy poses fewer negative risks than excessive stress levels and use of anti-nausea medication and is actually useful in treating both stress and nausea.
An Unlikely Medicine Alternative
What if the expectant mother is suffering from daily, insufferable spells of nausea? What if she is experiencing such crippling bouts of anxiety (both internal and social) that she is unable to get out of bed, let alone perform the many tasks necessary during pregnancy and ordinary daily life? Pot-friendly women experiencing any of these negative side effects during pregnancy are hesitant to opt for the legal, pharmaceutical alternatives to cannabis. No pregnant woman hopes to subject her baby to pharmaceutical antidepressants, anti-nausea medication, etc. While using these manufactured drugs, women can assume there will be adverse side effects on fetal development—to varying degrees—if used during pregnancy.
Because research on the subject remains virtually impossible due to the ongoing illegal status of the substance on the federal level, hard data on benefits of cannabis use during pregnancy is difficult to come by. Cruel or unusual experimentation on a pregnant woman is frowned upon in the scientific community, and the federal government still considers marijuana use to be just that—unusual.
Proponents of marijuana use during pregnancy argue the plant is exceptionally successful at treating:
- morning sickness
- suppressed appetite
- depressed mood
A woman suffering from a severe case of nausea resulting from hyperemesis gravidarum is likely to lose a significant amount of weight due to a non-desire and inability to eat, hold down liquids, etc. Obviously, weight loss is a very undesirable side effect during the first trimester of fetal development. Beyond weight loss, the women may also suffer from extreme dehydration and may develop other nutritional deficiencies.
Lasting Social Stigma
Again, pregnant women certainly do have alternative options to marijuana use during pregnancy. It is standard practice to prescribe to pregnant women an enormous dose of various pharmaceutical anti-nausea drugs, many of which were originated to help stimulate appetite with cancer patients. Many of these drugs are now taking flak due to previous frequent recommendations for their use during pregnancy. With this data at hand, pregnant women often choose to deny these medicines instead of spending the majority of their pregnancy bedridden and suffering. Many pregnant women who have not previously used pot are simply afraid to try it, and many existing users fear harsh judgment for its use during pregnancy.
Any woman—stoner or not—should be understanding of another woman’s refusal to voluntarily expose her developing fetus to unknown chemical drug compounds, and opting to use a naturally occurring plant substance instead. However, many women who do choose to use marijuana during pregnancy openly will face social scrutiny from strangers, and even close friends and family. Although 26 US states have now legalized marijuana to some degree, pot use remains—in some cases—as taboo as ever. Some legislators seek to challenge the progress which has already been made, thereby returning marijuana use to its former forbidden status.
Women who choose to recognize pot as an overwhelmingly beneficial medicine during pregnancy may do so, accepting the above social and legal consequences. Social and legal repercussions have not succeeded in wholly preventing alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy, and will not prevent mothers from embracing medicinal marijuana use. Stoner moms living in states which have already legalized pot for medical uses will obviously face a more painless social and legal atmosphere. These states have come to a consensus: the benefits of marijuana use—in moderation—during pregnancy heavily outweigh the risks. While it may seem impractical to move to another state simply to access legal medical cannabis, expecting mothers who make the move can rest assured knowing they likely will not be subject to backlash for taking advantage of an offering from nature.
In summary, a couple of tokes per day probably won’t have a detrimental effect on fetal development. It will keep the woman eating well and more relaxed, relieving a lot of stress. However, if a woman is lucky enough not to experience crippling nausea or anxiety during pregnancy, is nine months really all that long to abstain from marijuana? Women are willing to give up booze, coffee and all caffeine during pregnancy, and many are also very willing to stop getting high for 40 weeks. When a woman gives up alcohol, espresso, and pot for the duration of her pregnancy, the birth of her child is one of the most sobering, conscious experiences of her life.