New mamas out there have a lot on their plates. On top of carrying another living thing inside of them, they also spent nine months avoiding a bunch of tasty foods (and alcoholic beverages), all to make sure their future babies were developing as they should. Turns out the fun is just beginning, as breastfeeding moms also have to worry about what they are putting into their bodies after pregnancy that might pass through to their new bundles of joy. Shoutout to all the moms who are familiar with the phrase, “pump and dump.”
This can be a particularly challenging time because postpartum women deal with a variety of mental and physical challenges. As many as one in five women suffer from postpartum depression, according to the CDC, and on top of that, moms are dealing with anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia. Knowing all of this, moms are understandably looking for safe and effective ways to treat some of these symptoms, including CBD options. What do we know about CBD and breastfeeding? Can it be passed through breast milk, and if so, can it hurt your little one?
Unfortunately, research on cannabinoids and breastfeeding has been focused on THC, so there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to CBD and baby’s development. According to the Food and Drug Administration, they strongly advise against the use of CBD and THC and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, citing potential risks to brain development.
What we do know is that it is possible to pass low levels of CBD into breast milk. The journal Obstetrics and Gynecology published a study that looked at samples of breast milk from test subjects who regularly used cannabis, and found that babies who were breastfed ingested approximately 2.5 percent of the mom’s dose of THC. This research did not look at blood samples from the infants to see the levels of THC in their bodies. And, trying to “pump and dump” doesn’t work for cannabis products, since the chemicals from cannabis can linger in the body for days or weeks, and can still make their way into breast milk.
Because research on CBD and breastfeeding is limited, it is difficult to say one way or another how it would affect babies. In an article from Parents.com, Robert Flannery, Ph.D., acknowledged that mothers have leaned on CBD for centuries, and while he doesn’t feel comfortable recommending it to new parents, he did say “we should understand that anecdotal evidence can be used to formulate testable hypotheses to validate the use of cannabis at this time in a mom’s life.”
For some moms, sometimes the best approach is to weigh the pros and cons with their doctors. CBD has shown to be little risk to adults and children, and more research clearly needs to be done. However, for moms suffering from postpartum depression, CBD might be a better alternative to antidepressants or other drugs that are known to pose a risk to breast-fed babies. The bottom line is, until more research is done, it would be wise to speak to your doctor if you are looking to use CBD while breastfeeding.