Parenting · Pregnancy

Is cannabis use safe when pregnant or planning a pregnancy?

Individual holding marijuana leaf

New Canadian laws will be coming into effect in 2018 to legalize the use of cannabis. But just because cannabis is being legalized, does it mean it is safe to use in pregnancy or when planning a pregnancy?

What is marijuana?

Cannabis is a plant which contains over 700 chemicals.  Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active chemical compound that creates the high feeling when smoked, eaten or vaped.  The other chemical compounds called cannabidiols (CBD) provides medicinal effects such as decreasing pain and anxiety.

Evidence shows that cannabis use before and during pregnancy can have lifelong implications for you and your future baby.

5 ways cannabis use can affect your health and your baby’s health:

  1. Cannabis can affect fertility.

    Evidence shows heavy use (more than 1 joint per day), can make it harder to become pregnant. This is due to a potential decreased number and quality of sperm in men and changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle pattern.

  2. Smoking cannabis decreases oxygen availability for baby.

    This can cause long lasting effects; some of which may not appear until a child attends school. Problems with attention span, ability to learn, making decisions and understanding consequences are among the challenges.

  3. Increases the risk of preterm birth and low birthweight.

    Smoking both cigarettes and heavy cannabis use, may lead to preterm birth and low birthweight in babies.

  4. Can potentially worsen mental health problems.

    Increasing evidence shows heavy cannabis use can worsen existing diagnosed mental health problems

  5. Is often used in combination with other drugs.

    Cannabis is often used together with other drugs particularly alcohol, of which there is no safe amount in pregnancy.

Decrease your risks by:

  • Making an appointment with your doctor to discuss you and you partners plan for a future pregnancy.
  • Obtaining early prenatal care and attending prenatal classes
  • Avoid or stop using cannabis if you and your partner are thinking about having a baby or are pregnant.
  • Cut back with each use if you are unable to stop.
  • If you are having concerns with nausea, pain and/or have been diagnosed with a mental health problem, speak with your health care provider to discuss available safe treatments.

 The effects of heavy cannabis use can last weeks to years after stopping. 

There is no safe amount of cannabis in pregnancy. You and your unborn baby can be affected by its use.  Speak with your health care provider and gather credible information to help keep you and your baby safe during this vulnerable time.

Chat with a nurse if you have more questions.

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