Smoking Marijuana While Pregnant

Let me tell you a dirty story.

I met a woman years ago. She was in her fifties and we worked together. She had married a little later in life and her husband was older than her and had already had children. She had never had any children that were her "own". As I got to know her better I found that this was actually not a choice. She had never adopted because her husband hadn't wanted to as he already had children. But she had never had biological children for another reason.

As a teenager she had cancer cells in her female parts. Very young, long before she ever married she had to have her uterus removed, and along with it any chance of becoming pregnant or giving birth.

I found that when she was still quite young she had received a cash settlement for what had happened to her. This was something she was born with, but not something she had to be born with.

Her mother had been given an anti- miscarriage drug when she was pregnant with her, and many years down the road, doctors had found that, though the babies appeared fine and healthy, as the female children reached adulthood they had a much higher chance of some female cancers. The drug was called Diethylstilbestrol or DES and you can read about it here.

She told me that the cash settlement was small comfort, that she would have much preferred to have had children. It was obvious that this was defining part of her life.

Drugs While Pregnant-

Now you might be wondering what the heck this has to do with smoking marijuana while you are pregnant. The answer is, simply, a lot.

I should probably start off by admitting my bias here- I avoid all drugs at all times of my life pregnant or not. There are many reasons for this. I teach natural birth classes and encourage pregnant women NOT to smoke anything while pregnant.  One of the reasons I avoid drugs while pregnant is that I buy into the idea that Dr Bradley espoused that NO drugs are proven safe for the unborn fetus. When it comes to the health of our children, it is better to be safe than sorry.)

So what does DES in pregnancy have to do with marijuana in pregnancy?

DES was a drug (and for the record, not the only one) prescribed for pregnant women. It was considered safe. Babies were born and they appeared healthy. They were perfectly smart, alert, happy and normal.

There were however distinct side effects. They were just invisible for many many years. I would contend that this is not the only drug (prescribed or not, organic or in pill form) that a pregnant woman can take and still appear to have a healthy baby.
You also might be wondering why the heck I would bother in a million years writing about this. Doesn't everybody know that you shouldn't do drugs while you are pregnant?

The answer to the second question is a resounding NO. I live in an area of the country where marijuana is a huge part of the economy. It is also often grown organically and there are many people out there not only saying that it is safe but that it is in fact GOOD for you. And, as it turns out, you can find plenty of stuff online (thank you Internet) that supports the idea that marijuana is perfectly safe to use even while you are pregnant.

Marijuana is a Drug-

It is actually easy to find information supporting the idea that marijuana is good for you. I would say that it is in fact a drug, and that is why you feel different when you use it. The pictures above are of two brains. They are SPECT scans, on the left of a normal healthy brain, and on the right, a brain of somebody who uses marijuana.

There is an obvious difference in brain function, is there not?

Yes you can get marijuana that is organic. Yes, it may appear to do positive things for your health (though I would make the case that it is not however healing you, it is simply not allowing the brain to communicate well enough with the body for you to receive pain signals, just like any other pain killer does). But, whatever the positive aspects of marijuana, it most definitely influences brain function.

But What About the Baby?-

What about the baby? I honestly do not know that marijuana harms the baby of the mother who is smoking it. You can go to online forums and find many mothers touting the benefits they received while pregnant to smoking marijuana (better appetite, decreased nausea, less stress).

I would adamantly contend though that your baby is not worth even a hypothetical risk. There is no doubt that marijuana crosses to the brain of the person using it. That is why you feel "high" or why your pain is gone. It is not healing you of anything, it is limiting brain communication with the body.

It Is Not All About Mama-

I love natural birth and you will hear me and many other natural birth fanatics touting the benefits of natural birth for the mother. We talk about lower c-section rates and the birth high and faster recovery.

We talk about the benefits to the mother so often in fact that sometimes I wonder if we forget about the baby.

Natural, un-drugged pregnancy and birth is not just about the mother and her "choices" though. It is very important to me that women be allowed to choose what is best for them and their babies and not be forced into anything. But if we get too obsessed with the mothers needs we forget about a very important player, and that is the baby.

We as mothers must choose what is best for our babies. Motherhood does not begin at the birth, it begins as soon as we get pregnant. Weather that pregnancy is planned or not, it matters not.

As soon as we have that baby inside of us it is time to start making choices for somebody else besides yourself, and choosing them first.

In part this means giving up things that we like if they are not good for the baby. It also means giving up things just in case they are bad for the baby.

Doctors; trained, educated, physicians wrote prescriptions for DES specifically for pregnant women literally for YEARS. They thought it was safe. They were wrong. They were so wrong that it influenced the lives of thousands of women in a way that wouldn't be manifest for years and years after their births.

I don't care if you can find studies saying that smoking marijuana is safe for your baby. Your baby is not worth the risk. Studies change year after year. Medicine and what is "true" within it changes quickly. Culture accepts something as normal and then 20 years later considers it offensive.

One thing that is true forever is that mothers must choose what is best for their children and be willing to sacrifice to give it to them. Another truth is that we must not take chances with our babies. No drug is proven safe for the unborn child. NONE.


(If you suffer extensively from nausea due to pregnancy, please look here for dietary tips that can help remedy many pregnancy symptoms. Remember also that bodily discomforts are your bodies way of trying desperately to tell you something, they are not trying to punish you unnecessarily.)

If you would like to see the follow up to this post you can click here.

(The Jamaican study is often given as proof that smoking weed while pregnant is safe.  I don't believe that this study proves that at all.  It was a very small study and cultural factors probably weighed heavier in their findings than marijuana use.   I cover the Jamaican study about marijuana in pregnancy here.)