What We Know About CBD and Pregnancy

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is gaining notoriety around the world of medicine and the general public as well for being a pain suppressant, muscle relaxer, anxiolytic, and even an antiemetic. Chances are, if you are interested in natural remedies for certain ailments, then you have heard of CBD. Even though CBD is just one of the many cannabinoids from the hemp or cannabis plant. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, still remains illegal for many parts of the world due to its psychoactive properties. For pregnant mothers, specifically in the first trimester, pain and nausea are major problems. So, one would wonder if CBD could be a safe approach to helping those ailments.

CBD is mainly derived from the hemp plant and is where most of the health benefits come from. One thing to understand is that CBD is non-psychoactive compared to its close cousin THC. THC would bring the psychoactive effects that some pursue from the cannabis plant, and is responsible for the “high” feeling. CBD will not bring this, which is appealing to many people. CBD also avoids some of the risks that THC has. CBD is legal if the product contains less than .3% THC and only derived from hemp (with differences depending on the state). However, .3% THC is a trace amount that is still capable of impacting pregnancy, as we will review.

In the research field, CBD is quickly advancing, while THC has been studied for decades, and what research can say right away is that pregnant women should avoid using cannabis, let alone smoking anything.

Why THC is not for pregnant women

THC is capable of being absorbed through the placenta, and some studies show that this chemical can affect the development of the baby. One study found that pregnant mothers who routinely smoked cannabis did not find an increase in perinatal mortality, but did, in fact, have shorter birth times with smaller head circumferences. Another study reviewed the effects of THC on prenatal, perinatal and neonatal stages of pregnancy. The review found that, during perinatal pregnancy, consumption of THC leads to lower birth weight. The medical field currently suggests that cannabis use and the use of THC has negative impacts on development, and still needs more research. Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine said, “The more we study cannabis use during pregnancy, the more we are realizing how harmful it can be.” It is unethical to have pregnant women use cannabis for research, and is difficult to conduct research. Another study in 2016 even reviewed pregnant women who smoked both tobacco and cannabis. Results concluded that routinely smoking both in combination had an increased risk than using one or the other. It is a complicated question also because of the different stages of pregnancy, all of which have critical developmental stages. But how does this compare to cannabidiol (CBD)?

How could CBD potentially help pregnancy?

CBD is a muscle relaxant and a pain suppressant, both of which are types of medications used for labor, and of course help with aches, cramps, and nausea. According to a poll in 2017, pregnant mothers say that the first trimester is the most difficult due to nausea, headaches, fatigue, and mood change. On the surface, these symptoms could potentially be relieved by CBD but should be reviewed deeper for pregnant women. Again, it is important to establish that the answer for whether it’s safe for pregnant women to use CBD products or not is unclear, as there simply is not enough research yet to suggest that it is.

Pregnant women frequently go through mood changes and can suffer from depression or even postpartum depression. Many connections have been made that CBD is a mood stabilizer by maintaining and regulating healthy serotonin and dopamine levels. Many animals have an endocannabinoid system that is specifically designed to metabolize cannabinoids by binding them to CB1 and CB2 receptors. The endocannabinoid system works with the immune system in many ways and effectively regulates certain health aspects. A study by the National Institute of Health found CBD as an effective tool for both mood and anxiety disorders, but this does not necessarily show a relation for pregnant women. Research also shows how CBD could potentially prevent diabetes for pre-diabetics, prevent neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, and more.

One study did find that CBD could reduce uterine contractions and a possible relaxant during pregnancy stages. On the other hand, CBD and other chemicals are fully capable of transferring through the placenta, found another study.

If you are pregnant and want to try CBD, ask your doctor first for proper guidance. CBD is known to influence the effects of other medications by either increasing or decreasing its effects. The relationship between CBD and some medicines are even unknown. Please ask your doctor if they think CBD could be a good fit for your situation, as the relationship between CBD and other medications are also being studied.

How does CBD compare to THC medically?

As said before, clinical studies for CBD is mainly focused on pain, PTSD, anxiety, insomnia and more, but the effects of CBD on pregnancy is still unknown. While research is happening for the relationship, much is still unknown. Again, one thing to consider before researching is that CBD products (excluding CBD isolates) derived from hemp do have trace amounts of THC. Even though it is a trace amount that would not necessarily show up on a drug test, .3% is still medically significant. People with insomnia rely on CBD for its sleep-inducing properties at certain dosages. Insomniacs frequently suffer from anxiety which disables them from falling asleep or staying asleep. The same can be said for pregnant women who cannot stay asleep due to nausea or other ailments. People who suffer from PTSD frequently suffer from night terrors, which stop them from sleeping as well. A review from the National Center for Biotechnology Information conducted a review of research on how cannabinoids prevent night terrors.

Of course, what works for one group does not imply that it will work for the other. Because CBD and THC may work for those with insomnia or PTSD does not mean that pregnant women will benefit entirely from them either.


Pregnant women around the world value natural remedies that could help with certain problems that arise from pregnancy, so naturally CBD is an attractive choice. Given that the relationship between CBD and pregnancy is still quite unknown, the decision should only be made when talked about with a doctor, especially if there are other medications involved. Certain aspects have been shown to improve under the usage of CBD, such as pain, anxiety or nausea. Even though they are effective for some, it is unclear whether it should be used by pregnant women yet, as more research is still needed.

Before you go

FDA requires the acknowledgment of CBD as a food product, and in no way do we recommend CBD as a replacement for anything. According to the FDA, CBD does not treat or cure any of the ailments listed. We are not doctors and cannot recommend any dosage amount. Contact your physician for further advice about CBD. Closely review the lab results given by CBD brands.

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