Is it safe to smoke cannabis while pregnant?

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The issue of smoking cannabis while pregnant has been in the media this week after Sammy Warnes, 30, featured in the papers[1] telling how she smokes cannabis to treat extreme morning sickness.

Sammy turned to cannabis during pregnancy with her first child, Arabella, who is now three. She says Domperidone from her doctor hadn’t worked, so she turned to cannabis, having a puff or two on a joint, until the symptoms disappeared at 25 weeks.

Her daughter was born fit and healthy, so when she experienced the same symptoms with her current pregnancy, she again turned to cannabis. Now 15-weeks pregnant with her second child, due in May, Sammy says she has had no choice but to resort to smoking cannabis a few times a week to alleviate her symptoms. She says she spends £10 online every three weeks. 

Sammy, from Leeds, said: “The thing is the prescription drugs do more damage. There’s risk of birth defects so they’re quite scary to be fair. One of them was making my body do random movements. That stuff panics me.

“I decided to do my own bit of research. It was all getting too much. I wanted to see if there were any old-wives tales or ‘old fashioned tips’ that would help me out.

“Then I found quite a few forums on women using cannabis to stop their morning sickness. I was so desperate I thought I’d give it a go. I was a bit nervous when I first did it but I was reassured by all the things I read on the forums.

(Image: SWNS)

“Cannabis actually saved both me and my baby’s life. 

“This time round has been ten times worse. I’ve had to give my job up because I just couldn’t do anything. With just two puffs I’m able to be a parent to my daughter.

“I only do it a few times a week. I can do normal things like go to the shops, take her to nursery and just be a mum. Beforehand I was just being sick or waiting around to be sick. I was just knackered.

“People will say ‘Oh she just wants to be a druggie’ but it’s not that at all. I don’t get high off it.”

“It’s a couple of puffs with a minimum bit of baccy. There needs to be a conversation about this so other women know there’s something out there that can help them. Unless you’ve been through it you don’t really get it.

“I decided to do my own bit of research. It was all getting too much. I wanted to see if there were any old-wives tales or ‘old fashioned tips’ that would help me out.

“Then I found quite a few online forums on women using cannabis to stop their morning sickness. I was so desperate I thought I’d give it a go. I was a bit nervous when I first did it but I was reassured by all the things I read on the forums.”

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As many as eight in every ten women experiencing morning sickness as a side effect of pregnancy with symptoms improving or disappearing around 14 weeks. But those who experience hyperemesis gravidarum can see symptoms last for half of their pregnancy.

NHS guidelines advise those who experience severe symptoms to contact their midwife, doctor or hospital to seek treatment.

Research conducted in Jamaica suggests cannabis does not have negative impacts on babies in the womb[3]. No significant differences in developmental testing outcomes between children of cannabis-using and non-using mothers were found except at 30 days of age when the babies of users had more favourable scores in terms of autonomic stability and reflexes.

However, Chris Tasker, of cannabis consultation service Cannaman, told UKCSC.co.uk that smoking cannabis rather than vaping or other alternatives could have detrimental effects on the baby.

He said the “therapeutic constituents of cannabis are great for morning sickness” but warned that the toxins in the papers and smoke would “push carbon monoxide into her child”, risking suffocation and brain damage.

Smoking too much could also lead the baby to “experience weak withdrawal after birth”.

“It’s like saying opiates are useful but smoking it in a pipe rather than using it safely,” added Chris.

He suggested vaping cannabis or taking cannabis suppositories would be much safer alternatives.

Clearly Sammy is using cannabis in small, sensible quantities, but would be better off using other methods. She is right that an open conversation on the topic is sorely needed. Part of the problem of prohibition is that the public has to educate themselves without the help of a regulated public service. And if cannabis was legal and regulated Sammy and other pregnant mothers could more easily access and use THC in the form of oils while knowing how strong they were and what doses were safe to take.

This article originally appeared here in https://ukcsc.co.uk/is-it-safe-to-smoke-cannabis-while-pregnant/

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