Marijuana is a drug, the same as nicotine and alcohol. Like other drugs, it should be avoided during pregnancy and also while breast-feeding. The few studies that have been done on marijuana and breast-feeding indicate that the active ingredient (THC) in marijuana does pass to the baby through breast milk. A little bit of marijuana use seems to impact the baby only a little. However, THC does build up in the bloodstream, so the more you smoke it, the more your baby gets it through your breast milk.
There is little research on the impact marijuana may have on your baby. However, some studies show that newborn animals exposed to marijuana through their mother's milk have changes to brain cell structure. In addition, babies exposed to marijuana may have developmental delays, be jittery and/or sleepy. Babies exposed to marijuana in breast milk may be too sleepy to suck to get enough food, to wake up for feedings, or even to finish a feeding. In additon, marijuana seems to lessen a mother's milk supply.
Even if you decide not to breastfeed, and to smoke marijuana around your baby, your baby will be getting the active ingredient in marijuana through the secondhand smoke. In addition, you may not respond to your baby's needs as quickly if you're 'high.' Because the effects of marijuana in breast milk have not been determined, marijuana should be avoided while breast-feeding. If you are smoking marijuana to deal with motherhood, please seek help. The following tips will help you avoid marijuana while breast-feeding.
- Think about your baby. You may not care whether you get 'high' or experience side effects from marijuana, but your baby doesn't have that choice. By breast-feeding and smoking marijuana, you may be causing serious damage to your baby.
- Change your lifestyle. If your friends, family members or partner smoke marijuana, ask them to take it elsewhere. Make your house a no smoking building. If you worry about being lonely, consider joining a mother's group for conversation and friends until your baby is older.
- Get professional help. If you are having problems not smoking marijuana seek help. Call a drug helpline, speak to your care provider, find a rehab facility or speak to a counselor.
- Remember that marijuana is not physically addictive. If you quit smoking, you shouldn't have the withdrawal symptoms common in alcohol, nicotine and even caffeine addiction. However, marijuana does appear to be psychologically addictive which is why if you have problems quitting, you may want to seek professional help.