If you ever want to start a whirlwind of controversial debate on FaceBook, bring up the subject of mothers using marijuana. Especially if that mother happens to be pregnant.
There are so many misconceptions, so much misinformation surrounding marijuana use. I am writing this blog in hopes of helping to raise awareness of the benefits and quash some of the misinformation. My intent is not to convince you to change your mind. To each his own. I only desire to educate on some level. It doesn’t mean I expect you to agree. 🙂 I am passionate about my belief that medical marijuana should be legalized as I have countless friends and family who use marijuana to treat a wide array of medical conditions and have seen firsthand the phenomenal positive results.
I personally use marijuana sparingly. Only on an as-needed basis (which is fairly infrequently) for my insomnia, (a few times a month at most.) as well as for my morning sickness when I am pregnant. When I was pregnant with my last child I dealt with SEVERE morning sickness for the first 4 months. I was MISERABLE. And still had 6 other young children to care for. I literally could do nothing most days but lay in bed feeling awful. I had no appetite at all and when I did manage to force myself to eat it would almost immediatly come right back up. I was losing weight and always felt weak.I finally relented and took two small tokes off of a joint one night. Within 15 minutes my nausea was gone and I had an appetite. I ate a huge dinner that night and felt SO much better.I didn’t smoke every day. But from time to time when I felt too sick to eat all day and was desperate to get some nutrients into my body for the sake of my unborn child. One of the most commonly prescribed medications prescribed to women for morning sickness is Reglan. The side effects of Reglan are:Drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness, trouble sleeping, agitation, headache, and diarrhea,mental/mood changes (such as anxiety, confusion, depression, thoughts of suicide), decreased sexual ability, inability to keep still/need to pace, muscle spasms/uncontrolled muscle movements (such as twisting neck, arching back), abnormal breast-milk production, enlarged/tender breasts, swelling of the hands/feet,and this drug may infrequently cause a serious (sometimes fatal) nervous system problem (neuroleptic malignant syndrome). In comparison, marijuana has almost no negative side effects aside of a possible paranoia feeling which rarely some people may experience. And none of the effects of marijuana are long term. It is not in any way a “gateway” drug. I know dozen upon dozens of people personally who have used marijuana for an array of reasons and never touched any other drug in their lives.
You may wonder though, what are the risks to the baby inutero if a mother utilizes marijuana while pregnant? Let’s delve a bit more into that:
Marijuana use in pregnancy is a topic that has been studied since the 60’s. One large study of 12,825 interviews done after delivery, did not find a statistical association between marijuana use and birth defects.However, the studies also show that marijuana is not risk free. Studies have reported associations between marijuana smoking and growth restriction and lower birth weight, particularly in women who keep smoking through delivery or late in pregnancy. An Australian study of almost 420,000 live births reported a higher risk for neonatal intensive care admission for newborns exposed prenatally to pot. Also, there are reports of abnormal responses or behaviors in the newborn period and this suggests a toxicity or withdrawal. The symptoms include exaggerated and prolonged startle reflexes (sleep cycle disturbances with high-pitched crying.) In a Brazilian study, exposed newborns were “more irritable and less responsive to calming, cried more during the examination, and exhibited more jitteriness and startles than the non-exposed neonates.” Pregnant women who smoke daily and/or through delivery, have a higher risk for complications in their pregnancy compared to women who quit in the first trimester. That being said, a dean of nursing at a medical center in Chicago did a study in Jamaica that was published in 1994. In this study she followed women throughout pregnancy and for the year following birth, two groups, one who used cannabis every day and one group who refrained from using it at all. What she found was the group of children whose mothers used it daily through out pregnancy socialized more quickly, made eye contact easier and were engaged easier. there was also no proof of lower birth weight in her study And rumors have it that other similar studies where birth weight WAS effected as well as other issues at birth, the mother was usually also using alcohol or other drugs simultaneuosly.
It is because of these tentative findings that I personally will always advocate the safety of marijuana use in the first trimester but always suggest a mother refrains from using it or uses it only sparingly throughout the second and third trimester. This is the same advice I would give a mother in regards to any and all herbal remedies, frankly. Which is exactly what I consider marijuana to be, an herbal remedy.
My strongest recommendation would be to avoid smoking it. Though that first time I used it myself I did smoke it, after that I ingested it instead. It just seemed logical that inhaling smoke was not beneficial to my unborn child. Marijuana can be cooked, made into a tea, tinctures, vaporizers, etc…. I personally prefer it in a tea. You have to know what grade of weed you are dealing with, and what you personally need in order to know how much to use in any method.
What blows my mind is the dangerous medical interventions we allow to be done to us and our unborn children in pregnancy without so much as batting an eye. But to suggest to some people to utilize a naturally growing herb into their life raises riots.This is due to ignorance. I don’t mean that in a judgy way. I mean, literally, so many folks have no IDEA on the negative side effects of many common procedures and practices in prenatal care. There is the “patients right to choose”, but how many of us actually take the time to dig in depth to research and proof and statistical data? And how many are walking around with a slew of utter misinformation when it comes to marijuana use in pregnancy?
My reason for writing this isn’t to change your mind. My intent is not to demand you agree with me. It is only to share my own personal experience and knowledge and to challenge you to take some time to delve a little deeper into the subject on your own.