Cannabis Use During Pregnancy Is Bad for You and Your Baby
The perinatal mental health experts, PADA, share information for mothers and mothers-to-be on using this drug
4 min read
Why cannabis is harmful during pregnancy
The health risks of cannabis in pregnancy have not been clearly established. For the woman they may include increased risk of respiratory problems, mood and other mental health problems, as well as financial and other social problems. Cannabis is often used mixed with tobacco, and the harm associated with tobacco in pregnancy is considerable.
While not clearly established, there is evidence from some studies of a risk of later developmental problems in babies born to cannabis dependent mothers. These include memory and thinking difficulties and an increased risk of ADHD.
There is also some evidence that babies exposed to cannabis in the womb might have a higher risk of mental health problems in later life and also be more prone to cannabis dependence themselves.
We recommend avoiding cannabis when you’re breastfeeding, too
There is not a lot of evidence about the effects on babies of cannabis in breastmilk. (This is because these kinds of studies have not yet been undertaken).
However, there is evidence that cannabis transmits to breastmilk and, as cannabis lasts a long time in the body, careful timing of breastfeeding, or expressing milk, won’t work as it does for alcohol.
It is reasonable to think that heavy use of cannabis while breastfeeding could have significant developmental effects on young babies.
Possible problems could include damaging brain development as has been shown to occur with cannabis exposure in the womb.
Cannabis affects your mental health
There is good evidence linking cannabis use to increased rates of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and psychosis.
Do you use too much cannabis?
This is a difficult question to answer but there is evidence that any more than the occasional use of cannabis probably has negative effects. Certainly, regular or dependant use is likely to be associated with negative physical and mental consequences, which could impact on your chances of parenting to the best of your ability and giving your child the best start in life that you can.
Please seek help
More information is available from the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC), who have a website here.
It can be very difficult for someone to accept that they have a drinking or drug problem – it takes a lot of courage to admit it.
If you think your use of a substance is causing problems for you, there are lots of places to talk about the issues and get help. These include your GP, midwife, Plunket Nurse, and local Alcohol and Drug Service (which should be in the phone book under mental health services).
The information and advice found on this website is shared with permission from PADA. PADA aims to reflect current medical knowledge and practice, however, this is not a substitute for clinical judgment and individual medical advice. The website authors accept no responsibility for any consequences arising from relying upon the information provided.
PADA take the accuracy of the information they publish on their website very seriously and update it regularly. Please let them know if you think the information is out of date.