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Smoking Weed While Pregnant: What Are the Risks?

Cannabis, also referred to as weed, bud, pot, or marijuana, is obtained from the Cannabis plant. Cannabis plants produce more than 400 chemicals and more than 60 cannabinoids, which can have both mental and physical effects when consumed. Using cannabis can impact the health of a developing baby. As more states legalize marijuana, research indicates that more moms-to-be are smoking weed. Read on to learn about the potential risks of smoking weed while pregnant.

Cannabis is among the most common illegal drugs used during pregnancy. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), about two to five percent of pregnant women use marijuana. This number is higher in certain women; for instance, young, urban, and socioeconomically underprivileged women have greater rates of marijuana use during pregnancy.

Pregnant women might be increasingly using marijuana because it is easily accessible. There is also a growing perception that you can use it safely during pregnancy. Furthermore, many legal marijuana dispensaries suggest marijuana as a natural treatment for nausea or morning sickness during pregnancy. Pregnant women may also smoke pot to ease other symptoms of pregnancy, such as reduced appetite, aches, pains, and sleep problems.

People sometimes eat or smoke cannabis for the effects it has on their body. It may cause relaxation, increased sensory perception, and euphoria. However, smoking weed during pregnancy may make you dizzy, increasing your risk of falling. It can also reduce the levels of oxygen in your body and result in breathing problems. Furthermore, the active compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana can cross the placenta and reach your baby, negatively affecting their health. ACOG, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend not smoking marijuana while pregnant.

Some potential risks of smoking marijuana during pregnancy are as follows:

Low birth weight

The National Academy of Sciences published a document in 2017 about the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids. The committee stated that smoking marijuana during pregnancy was linked to lower birth weight. Babies who are born with a low birth weight sometimes have low levels of oxygen, problems breathing, and difficulty maintaining their body temperature, among other complications. Babies whose mothers smoked marijuana during pregnancy are more likely to need to stay in a neonatal intensive care unit than babies whose mothers didn’t smoke marijuana while they were pregnant.

Premature birth

The National Academy of Sciences did not find an association between preterm birth and smoking marijuana while pregnant. According to the official guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics, pregnant people shouldn’t consume cannabis in any form because it’s unsafe for them and their babies.


According to research, marijuana use during pregnancy may increase the risk of stillbirth. However, it’s difficult to know for sure if this is due to using only marijuana or due to using other substances such as tobacco. Women often smoke marijuana and tobacco together, and tobacco can also cause complications during pregnancy.

Small length and head circumference

One of the effects of pregnant women using marijuana is that their babies may be smaller than average when they’re born. Furthermore, they may also have a smaller head circumference.

Marijuana’s effects on a baby after birth

According to experts, exposure to THC may affect the brain development of your baby. Though babies who are born to women who used cannabis during pregnancy don’t develop serious symptoms of withdrawal, they may develop other changes. Such babies may develop behavioral and learning problems as they become older. Some experts consider THC a developmental neurotoxin. Smoking weed while pregnant may cause your baby to have trouble with attention, memory, school performance, and controlling impulses.

Is medical marijuana safe?

Medical marijuana isn’t safer than non-medical marijuana. ACOG states that there are no standard formulations, dosages, or systems of delivery for marijuana, even when it’s for medical use. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration has no recommendations regarding its use during pregnancy. For these reasons, you shouldn’t use marijuana during pregnancy, medical or non-medical.

Is it safe to smoke marijuana while breastfeeding?

Research hasn’t discovered much about how marijuana affects breastfeeding babies. However, mothers who use marijuana, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, heroin, or phencyclidine should not breastfeed. One study showed that a moderate amount of THC can get into your breast milk if you use marijuana while breastfeeding. Exposure to breast milk containing THC during their first month may lead to reduced motor development when your child becomes one year old. THC in breast milk may affect the brain development of your baby. According to the recommendations from ACOG, you shouldn’t smoke marijuana while breastfeeding.

Ways to quit smoking weed while pregnant 

If you are smoking weed during your pregnancy and want to quit, you should discuss it with your doctor. To quit using marijuana, you may need a combination of different approaches to address the emotional, psychological, and physical aspects of the process. Your provider may start your treatment with cognitive-behavioral therapy or motivational enhancement therapy. Some programs may also incorporate alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness into your treatment model.

The takeaway

Doctors recommend not smoking weed during pregnancy because it has been linked to various problems during pregnancy and for your newborn baby. It isn’t safe to smoke marijuana while breastfeeding, as THC can get into your breast milk and affect your baby adversely. If you are planning to conceive or are already pregnant, tell your doctor about any substances you’re taking, including marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco.

1. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/smoking-weed

2. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Marijuana-and-Pregnancy?IsMobileSet=false

3. https://drugabuse.com/nicotine/smoking-pregnant/

4. https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Marijuana-Use-During-Pregnancy-and-Lactation

5. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/129/2/e540.full.pdf

6. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/can-marijuana-use-during-pregnancy-

7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324069.php

8. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2667052?redirect=true

9. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/smoking-marijuana-while-pregnant-study-sheds-light-on-risks/

10. https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/everything-pregnancy/now-theres-proof-smoking-pot-in-pregnancy-is-

11. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/substance-use-in-women/substance-use-while-pregnant-breastfeeding

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