Can you smoke weed while pregnant? This question is often asked by expecting mothers, but the answer should already be known. Doctors recommend not smoking cigarettes, weed or even drinking while you’re pregnant.
Smoking weed while pregnant can have adverse side effects on your unborn child.
While you may know that you can’t smoke weed at this time, you’re probably wondering why. We’re going to delve deep into this subject so that you have a full understanding of the dangers of smoking weed while pregnant.
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Studies have shown that women are more likely to smoke weed versus doing another drug. This is far better for the baby’s health than heroine, but it’s still not a good idea. Studied since the 1960’s, researchers have been trying to determine why smoking weed is so bad for a child.
To understand this, you need to know how weed works inside of the body.
The cannabis plant contains THC, an ingredient that produces the “high” a person experiences when smoking marijuana. THC is just one of the main reasons why weed is bad for your baby. Cannabis or weed alters your brain and causes you to experience a high. Fortunately, your brain has already fully developed unlike your child’s brain.
The brain is very sensitive during the development phase, so any harm done can be long-lasting.
Even when vaporizing, ingesting, using topical balms or drinking marijuana in a tea, this drug can have adverse side effects on the fetus. Smoking is particularly harmful because carbon monoxide is a byproduct as well as tar, which will be inhaled by the mother. This will travel through the body and reach the baby that is still developing.
Many studies were misleading or inconclusive. Why? One study interviewed 12,800 people and did not find any association between marijuana and birth defects. The lack of connection could be a result of multiple factors.
First and foremost, the study only asked mothers to divulge their drug usage while pregnant and didn’t rely on any scientific data. The women may have lied on the survey, and there was no record of usage statistics. A woman that smoked weed once may be discounted because damage is far less likely to occur if smoking only occurred once during pregnancy.
Statistics on daily usage habits would have made the study more compelling and relevant.
Studies Proving Smoking Weed is Bad During Pregnancy
An Australian study looked at over 420,000 live births of newborns that had to be admitted to intensive care following birth. The study concluded that these babies were exposed to pot when they were developing.
There is an association between marijuana and the growth restriction or lower weight of babies.
Side effects of weed are often more prevalent when the mother smoked weed through delivery or in the late stages of pregnancy. Interestingly, the study also found that:
- Babies had abnormal response times.
- Babies showed signs of toxicity and withdrawal.
Effectively, the baby was getting high when the mother was getting high. These results should be enough to indicate that there is a negative effect seen between smoking weed and the development of an unborn baby.
A Brazilian study found evidence of unnatural development in babies when mothers smoked weed. The side effects included:
- Prolonged startle reflexes.
- Less responsive to soothing efforts.
So, what does this mean?
Prolonged startle reflexes are when a baby is woken during their sleeping cycle and start a high-pitched crying fit. This is what happens in the middle of the night when the mother is sleeping and is awoken by a baby that is impossible to calm. When a woman has smoked weed during pregnancy, the baby will be more irritable and less responsive to the mother holding her trying to calm her down.
Soothing efforts simply are less effective, resulting in frantic babies that won’t stop crying.
Interestingly, these effects are far more common with women that smoke daily or through their delivery date. This isn’t to say that smoking weed is acceptable when pregnant because complications can still arise as a result. Increased frequency will cause the greatest harm to the unborn child.
Women that quit smoking during their first trimester are far less likely to have a baby that’s born with any complications.
The effects of smoking weed while pregnant are often studied in the short-term: immediately following birth. However, studies on the long-term effects of smoking weeding when a women is pregnant have also been conducted.
Studies of 3, 10 and 14-year old children that had a mother that smoked weed during her pregnancy showed that the child does suffer in the long-term from marijuana usage. First, the effects are seen when the prenatal exposure was in high doses. These are mothers that did not quit smoking and went well past the first trimester smoking on a regular basis.
- All participants showed a higher level of aggression.
- Depression symptoms were higher in all participants.
- Learning was much more difficult.
It must be noted that this particular study notes that the parents may have been exposed to other drugs as well. Determining the effects of a single drug is very difficult in most studies due to the participants not being truthful during their evaluations.
Mothers that still have a problem accepting the fact that weed is bad for an unborn child will need to consider where their weed is originating. Many studies have shown that weed is often laced with other drugs.
PCP and pesticides have been seen in weed as well as traces of heroine.
These are two substances that would cause your baby to be at an even higher risk of damage due to their potency. Interestingly, studies have shown that heroine doesn’t affect the baby as much as smoking and is often associated most with withdrawal issues rather than birth defects.
Help! I Smoked Before I Knew I was Pregnant!
Is it bad to smoke weed while pregnant? Absolutely, but don’t worry, one time is not likely to cause long-term side effects. Many women will smoke weed prior to realizing that they’re pregnant. Thankfully, the baby has not been allowed to develop much by this stage and no damage will have been done – in most cases.
The first trimester is a rather forgiving time because the baby is just developing and many of the side effects to the brain are not present at the time.
This is not to say that you should smoke weed because it may cause less harm to the baby at this time. No, you want to avoid weed as much as possible, but the one time that may have occurred before you knew you were pregnant shouldn’t have lasting side effects.
If you are worried that you may have harmed the baby, discuss it with your doctors and have them perform a thorough evaluation. In the vast majority of cases, if the mother stopped smoking weed during the first trimester, there will be no long-term side effects or withdrawal symptoms witnessed.
Smoking weed while pregnant is still a hot topic amongst researchers, with in-depth studies ongoing. For the safety of your baby, it’s best to stop smoking weed and follow a healthy lifestyle.