The Uncanny Connection Between Cannabis and Pregnancy Relief
Pregnancy calls for extreme safety measures wherein you denounce cherished habits that include alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and even caffeinated beverages such as tea or coffee. Pregnant women owe it to the new life they are carrying to make such major transformations to their normal lifestyle choices. Surprisingly, during the time when even a cup of coffee is prohibited, medical marijuana is being accepted as a considerable source for pain relief during pregnancy. It has been recently observed that an increasing number of women are consuming medical cannabis during pregnancy for an assortment of related symptoms including morning sickness and muscle pain.
Over the past decade cannabis has gained a strong foothold in the medical community and is used to treat a plethora of health conditions. Doctors prescribe pre-determined doses of cannabis for those suffering from muscle spasms, seizures, and even in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Time and time again medical marijuana has been proven to help alleviate symptoms of pain, nausea, and appetite loss. Thus, it is well overdue that we pursue the possibility of medical cannabis applications in pregnancy.
Despite the absence of scientific research, the use of medical marijuana in pregnancy is beginning to be accepted nonetheless. With nothing more than personal testimonies to rely on many moms-to-be are choosing marijuana over taking pharmaceutical drugs. The women who are choosing this alternative are looking in to the “best” way to obtain the benefits of marijuana while minimizing the risks to themselves and their unborn child.
Vaporizing cannabis has been favored as the “healthiest” way to achieve the effects of marijuana. According to Donald I. Abrams, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, reported in 2007 in the Journal of the American Academy of Neurology “there was virtually no exposure to harmful combustion products” using a vaporizing device. Pregnant women report having trouble eating medical cannabis products due to their symptoms of nausea and vomiting, whereas vaporizing is easier on the stomach.
One of the largest complaints of pregnant women is morning sickness, some even face dangerous illness due to the vomiting associated with morning sickness. Chronic nausea or excessive vomiting can lead to contracting Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which requires immediate medical aid as the mother is unable to hold down any food and provide proper nutrients to their growing baby. Such worse case scenarios can be easily avoided when cannabis is applied in the treatment of nausea. Cannabis is fast acting and has the potential to stop nausea before vomiting has even begun. Medical Cannabis is already well known for the treatment of nausea and is currently prescribed to cancer patients who suffer from symptoms related to chemotherapy including chronic nausea and loss of appetite.
Almost half of pregnant women report suffering from constipation and digestive issues at one point throughout pregnancy. Medical cannabis has a tendency to ease the digestive system and is known to alleviate constipation. Over the counter medications are accompanied by their own collection of risks and many women feel marijuana is the more natural way.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends against the use of marijuana during pregnancy, but notes that it is “difficult to be certain about the specific effects of marijuana on pregnancy and the developing fetus.” There are very few studies available on the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy that has lead us to this uncertainty. Due to the obvious ethical problems with setting up controlled studies and deliberately exposing fetuses to marijuana, scientific research is absent and stagnant. Studies that have been done on children of women who report smoking cannabis during pregnancy have produced mixed results, since it is difficult to separate the effects of smoking marijuana from socioeconomic factors such as malnutrition, poor prenatal care, smoking tobacco, and the effects of other substance use.
Cannabis consumption has no proven relation with pregnant women facing shorter gestation periods or fetal development issues. In fact, certain abnormalities in infants such as Downs Syndrome has no link to cannabis consumption. Mothers facing these issues are often linked to an unhealthy diet, and/or poor living conditions. Tests conducted on infants, up to 6 months, and children ranging from 1 to 4 years, born to mothers exposed to medial cannabis showed no depreciation in their cognitive skills.
There is no definite report, record, or study that states that medical marijuana is directly linked to children contracting cancers of various kinds either. Cancer is a resultant of genetic makeup, environmental factors, exposure to harmful chemicals, and family history. There are many contributing factors to illness and developmental issues some children face, but it is difficult to distinguish a direct correlation to cannabis use or variables including environment, nutrition, and genetic makeup.
Although, vaporizing cannabis involves little to no risk there are studies that show marijuana is not completely risk free. One large study of 12,825 interviews done after delivery, did not find a statistical association between marijuana use and birth defects. However, these studies reported associations between marijuana smoking and growth restriction and lower birth weight, particularly in women who keep smoking through delivery or late in pregnancy.
An Australian study of about 420,000 live births reported a higher risk for neonatal intensive care admission for newborns exposed prenatally to cannabis. Also, there are reports of abnormal responses or behaviors in the newborn period that suggests a possible toxicity or withdrawal.
In a Brazilian study, exposed newborns were “more irritable and less responsive to calming, cried more during the examination, and exhibited more jitteriness and startles than the non-exposed neonates.” Pregnant women who smoke daily and/or through delivery, have a higher risk for complications in their pregnancy compared to women who quit in the first trimester.
With the rising popularity of medical and recreational use of marijuana there is a need to find some common ground and solid research to support both, positive and negative claims. There is a clear necessity for natural pain relief for pregnant women, but very little research leaves expectant moms uncertain on their decisions. Why, when so much seems to be at risk, are a growing number of moms-to-be choosing cannabis over traditional medications? When compared to many over the counter medications considered “safe” for pregnancy cannabis is an easy go-to for many women, but to protect the next generation it is vital to conduct proper research on the direct effects on pregnancy and post-delivery.
Accurate information will allow expectant mothers to make well informed decisions for the health of themselves and their unborn children. Medical practitioners specializing in the field of pregnancy and child birth stress that the method of medical marijuana consumption is directly responsible for complications during pregnancy and child birth. Smoking should be avoided at all costs and vaporizing medical cannabis is found to be the most suitable way to obtain relief from pregnancy related symptoms while keeping the risks to a minimum. Regardless of the reports certifying medical marijuana safe to vaporize during pregnancy, we recommend anyone to consult a licensed physician before consuming any cannabis product.