Being pregnant seems difficult. I don't know from personal experience, but I'm confident that pregnancy isn’t easy. There are a laundry list of side effects, ranging from uncomfortable to odd. It’s no wonder that moms-to-be are looking for something, anything, to alleviate those side effects, especially through natural methods. But, is pot really what the doctor ordered?
A recent study has shown that more pregnant women are using marijuana during pregnancy. Whether it was an old habit, or a true attempt to mitigate nausea, vomiting and anxiety, the study revealed that the numbers of users are on the rise. Notably, the number of pregnant women from 2009-2016 who were using marijuana rose from 4% to 7%. Many of these women were young- 22% under the age of 18, and 19% between the ages of 18-24.
Before we go sounding the alarms for a new public service announcement, let’s look at what the study doesn’t conclude. It doesn’t confirm whether these women all knew they were pregnant when using marijuana. And it doesn’t track a national trend. Quite the contrary, it just looks at samples from one place in California.
Even if this sample size is small, it still raises a question- will the prenatal use of marijuana increase when California's laws on legalization change next year? And regardless of how many women are actually using marijuana while pregnant, the science still remains the same- there is at least initial evidence suggesting that prenatal marijuana use may impair fetal growth and neurodevelopment. Is that a risk worth taking? Nearly 80% of females asked believed marijuana didn’t have negative side effects if used while pregnant, despite science saying otherwise.
So what’s a mom-to-be to do? Many states with medical programs restrict the use of marijuana by pregnant women, but what about states with broad permissibility for recreational use? Mothers should make sure to read up on the current science behind prenatal marijuana use, consult their doctors, and make an educated decision as to what is best for their health and the health of their baby.