Pregnancy is a difficult time for many expectant mothers, coming with a wide variety of challenges and unexpected stresses.
Morning sickness, dizziness, disruption to usual sleeping patterns and all manner of aches and pains are a common experience. For many people conventional remedies simply don’t cut it, so they seek alternative sources for relief from these symptoms.
With a well established reputation for general pain relief eagerly touted by its users, this is the point where many people begin to consider CBD, however, there is a very big difference between a treatment for common nausea and something you should consider taking whilst pregnant.
Pregnancy is a delicate state of being where the effects of substances extend not just to yourself but also to the foetus you carry. It is well known that substances taken during pregnancy can easily pass on to a foetus in-utero.
This is the key reason why many expectant mothers will abstain on everything from powerful painkillers to alcohol and tobacco.
CBD is no different to these other substances. Although many people use CBD to help deal with similar symptoms in everyday life, its application here is far more complicated.
To know for certain if using CBD oil during pregnancy is ever a viable option, we’ll need to explore exactly how CBD works and the impact it can have on a developing foetus.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD works by interacting directly with a series of receptors found across the human body. These receptors, collectively known as the endocannabinoid system, are involved in a wide range of bodily processes from maintaining internal temperature to regulating pain response.
The many different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant interact with endocannabinoid receptors in slightly different ways. CBD however is our main concern and the primary active element of any UK-legal CBD product.
CBD works by mimicking the interaction of endocannabinoids produced by the body to trigger this response, resulting in the relaxed feeling that many users experience.
The endocannabinoid system itself is involved in various processes throughout the body. Recent research suggests that it also plays a major role in foetal development, particularly at the earliest stages of pregnancy.
This discovery is one of the biggest reasons why many health professionals will caution an expectant mother against CBD use.
THC & Other Cannabinoids
CBD (cannabidiol) is just one of the many cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant. Although the question of using CBD whilst pregnant revolves mostly around this single compound, the nature of CBD extractions means that we must also consider the role of other cannabinoids during pregnancy.
CBD extraction is a complex process and, with the exception of CBD isolate, most CBD products will contain a range of other cannabinoids. This is due to a principle known as the entourage effect which, whilst unproven, is considered true by many CBD users.
It argues that CBD itself is more effective when dosed alongside various other cannabinoids.
The most notable cannabinoid aside from CBD itself is THC. THC is a psychoactive compound that interacts with the endocannabinoid system in a distinctly different way to CBD.
As a psychoactive substance THC is intoxicating and will cause a direct change in brain chemistry, comparable in some ways to other mild hallucinogens. THC is the component of recreational cannabis that will get a person “high”.
Of course this particular compound is extremely dangerous for developing foetuses even in small doses. Though full spectrum CBD products will only contain trace amounts of THC, even broad spectrum products will still contain trace amounts of THC.
Other cannabinoids included in both broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD products, such as CBG, can have a wide range of effects on a developing foetus.
Although research is still limited, existing studies indicate that this broader range of cannabinoids can have a significant impact on the growth and development of a foetus.
CBD Risks & Pregnancies
CBD and cannabinoids associated with CBD oils can have a wide range of impacts upon a developing foetus. Although the full extent of its effects are not known, due to an inability to ethically conduct human trials, tests on various other mammal embryos have given us a clearer idea of the impact they may have.
Various tests conducted on mouse embryos has indicated the extent to which CBD can affect early foetal development. In particular, physical stunting and limited development of the brain and nervous systems have been linked to exposure to CBD products.
Tests were somewhat inconclusive on which cannabinoids were directly causing these issues, whether CBD specifically or the various other cannabinoids present. Further studies have also suggested potential hormonal issues later in life, with CBD exposure during pregnancy being potentially linked to hormonal imbalances.
Some results go so far as to suggest a link between CBD use and lost pregnancies.
Research into the risks of dosing CBD whilst pregnant is still in its infancy. There is a lot we don’t understand about how CBD interacts with a developing foetus, which is itself reason enough to avoid it.
CBD may prove to be largely harmless to both mother and foetus, but until we have that certainty it should be treated with the same caution as any other substance.
CBD Risks & Breast-Feeding
Breast-feeding comes with just as many concerns for the health of a newborn as pregnancy does, so those substance limitations that many expectant mothers undertake do not stop with birth.
Various substances have been proven to pass to an infant directly through breast milk, with breast-feeding mothers advised against indulging in everything from tobacco to alcohol.
Endocannabinoids do indeed pass onto a feeding child during normal breast-feeding. These compounds are naturally produced by the human body and play a significant role in early child growth.
The use of CBD oils during breast-feeding risks passing on additional cannabinoids that have the potential to stunt development and cause other complications.
In many ways the dangers posed by use of CBD during breast-feeding are similar to those of use during pregnancy, with the CBD itself passing into an infant through breastmilk as easily as through the placenta.
Although CBD oil, due to its high bioavailability, is certainly the most noteworthy concern here other CBD products also pose a risk. CBD edibles, CBD e-liquids, even CBD skincare products all have the potential to carry excess cannabinoids to a newborn.
Although many users suggest seemingly harmless CBD topicals for assisting with various aches and pains in unconnected areas of the body, the vulnerable nature of newborns make them susceptible to even the smallest CBD doses.
There is a reason these products all warn against use whilst pregnant or breast-feeding. Whenever considering CBD topical use whilst still breast-feeding you should always speak to a paediatrician or other qualified medical professional first.
Pregnancy can be a trying time for many people, with discomforts and unexpected struggles heightening the difficulties of this already challenging period of life.
People are always eagerly searching for ways to alleviate the harder aspects of pregnancy. Whilst initially CBD may seem like a viable solution, the truth is much more complex.
There is still an awful lot we don’t understand about CBD and its impact on an adult, let alone a foetus or infant. CBD is sold in the UK specifically with labels advising against use whilst pregnant or breast-feeding.
These warnings should be followed. Although the supposed benefits associated with CBD oil seem to counter the most prominent issues of pregnancy, the risks are simply not worth it.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding are times in life when extra care needs to be paid towards the use of substances and CBD is no exception.
Some doctors may advise the use of CBD oil during pregnancy, but this is advice coming from a medical professional who understands the specifics of an expectant mother’s situation and can give sound, reliable advice on the risks of CBD use whilst pregnant.
Although we believe strongly in our products and their impeccable quality, we could not in any good conscience advise their use during either pregnancy or breast-feeding.
If you are considering CBD use and are pregnant, breast-feeding or trying for a baby, we encourage you to abstain until you have had the chance to speak to a relevant medical professional and heard their advice.
If you don’t have this opportunity, then we advise you to avoid CBD use for the duration of your pregnancy and your time breast-feeding. When it comes to infant health it’s always better safe than sorry, and no sacrifice of lifestyle is too large to ensure the safety of your child.