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Cannabis Column | August 1, 2022

Marijuana and breastfeeding

Many people wonder if mothers can use cannabis while breastfeeding their children. In this article, we will dig into the latest research to answer questions like, “can you breastfeed if you smoke marijuana?”, “does THC pass through breastmilk?”, and, “how long does marijuana stay in breastmilk?” 

In this blog post, we will look at the research on how long marijuana stays in breastmilk and what implications its presence might have for nursing mothers and their children.

Can you smoke weed while breastfeeding? 

Cannabis can be a wonderful relaxation tool, but is it safe to use cannabis when you are breastfeeding? Additionally, how long does marijuana stay in breastmilk?

A 2018 study published in Pediatrics found that trace amounts of marijuana were detected in breast milk for about six days following a mother's smoking cannabis or ingesting a THC edible. It is the first study of its kind dedicated to answering critical questions about marijuana and breastmilk.

However, researchers are unsure whether cannabinoid compounds negatively impact children's development. According to study author and pediatric researcher Christina Chambers, we need to collect every bit of information about cannabis so pediatricians know how to advise mothers.

Additionally, as a sign of our rapidly changing times, there are several online support groups that suggest marijuana as a remedy for nausea and stress in new mothers.

Is smoking weed while breastfeeding dangerous?

To date, the CDC has not made any recommendations regarding cannabis use during and following pregnancy, instead suggesting that the data is insufficient to make a definitive statement.

However, a new study shows that babies fed breast milk by moms who smoke weed don't face short-term risks.

How does THC affect breast milk? 

In this study, scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine compared the health status of babies who were breastfed by a THC-positive mother to those who were breastfed by THC-negative mothers. The results showed that, in general, weed does go into breast milk, however, there were no noticeable differences in short-term health between the two groups.

Although this is an encouraging finding, the study only examined short-term effects. Researchers feel that more research is needed regarding the long-term effects of smoking marijuana while breastfeeding. Despite concluding that the babies whose mothers combined breastfeeding and THC did not suffer any immediate adverse health effects, this does not mean that the baby’s development will be the same in the long run.

Can I smoke weed while breastfeeding?

The Guttmacher Institute reports that 24 states and Washington, D.C. penalize pregnant women who use a controlled substance (including marijuana) as child abuse, including (but not limited to) states where marijuana is legal for medicinal and recreational purposes. 

How fast does weed go into breast milk?

A 2018 study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at how quickly THC was passed on to infants ranging in age from 3 months to 5 months old.

The researchers collected samples of breast milk from eight anonymous breastfeeding mothers who used cannabis regularly and analyzed it for the concentration of THC and its derivatives.

A milk sample from each study subject was taken 20 minutes after they had smoked marijuana, then 1, 2, and 4 hours after use. The highest concentrations of THC in breastmilk were observed one hour after use.

Interestingly, researchers also found that breastfeeding mothers pass only small amounts of THC to their babies when they consume cannabis. For example, babies who were exclusively breastfed received approximately 2.5 percent of the mother's ingested dose of THC.

How long should I pump and dump after smoking marijuana?

When you have consumed cannabis while breastfeeding, you won't get the same results with pumping and dumping as you would after drinking an alcoholic beverage.

Cannabis is still found in breast milk several days after using the pump and dump technique. The fat-soluble nature of cannabinoids means that THC can show up in breast milk for up to six days after consumption. In general, it is impossible to precisely predict when marijuana will be eliminated from your body since every individual's rate of metabolism of cannabinoids varies.

Although the estimated amount of THC consumed by the baby was lower than what an adult consumes, it was noted that breast milk concentrations were highly variable. Consequently, some infants may be exposed to amounts that are similar to what an adult would be exposed to on a daily basis.

Final thoughts on marijuana and breastfeeding

So, what's a nursing mom to do? The jury is still out on the matter of cannabis and breastfeeding. Until more concrete research is available, we recommend erring on the side of caution and abstaining from cannabis altogether if you are breastfeeding. However, if you that is not an option, be sure to monitor your baby closely for any signs that they are reacting adversely to it. 

And if you do opt for pumping and dumping after using cannabis, note that THC may still be found in your breast milk several days later.  

Get started on your cannabis wellness journey

Have you started your cannabis wellness journey? Jointly is a new cannabis wellness app that helps you discover purposeful cannabis consumption so you can achieve your wellness goals with cannabis and CBD. On the Jointly app, you can find new cannabis products, rate products based on how well they helped you achieve your goals, and track and optimize 15 factors that can impact your cannabis experience. These 15 factors include your dose, the environment in which you consume cannabis, who you are with when you ingest, how hydrated you are, the quality of your diet, how much sleep you got last night, and more. Download the Jointly app on the App Store or the Google Play Store to get started on your cannabis wellness journey.

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