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cbd breastfeeding

Cbd breastfeeding

Geary (who notes that as a pediatrician with a license to provide medical marijuana —CBD and THC products—she's not an anti-marijuana doctor), says using CBD when breastfeeding just isn't a safe gamble. "During the time of the developing fetus, through until age three years of life, the infant's brain reaches 80% of its full adult volume. Any unnecessary exposure, especially in those vulnerable first three years, is worth considering very seriously."

She says it's crucial, however, that you bring the product you intend on using to your health care provider and discuss its use before trying it out. She also says it's important to realize if you choose to use CBD topically when breastfeeding, it's still considered experimental. "Never feel forced to use something just because you bought it," she adds.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is everywhere, from topical salves to tinctures. The so-called organic Xanax is being touted by wellness enthusiasts as a panacea to pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Nature’s supposed cure-all might seem like a miracle treatment to sleep-deprived, delirious new mothers, especially those who are breastfeeding and feeling energetically depleted. But despite the widespread availability of CBD, as of 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one CBD drug, leaving many questions around its safety for breastfeeding mothers unanswered. What may seem like natural stress relief to help navigate the many mental and physical challenges of motherhood, especially in trying times, might end up exposing your child to risks that research has yet to uncover.

Meet the Expert

Risks of Using CBD When Breastfeeding

Nursing offers an unparalleled host of benefits to both mother and child. According to a comprehensive 2013 review, the nutritional, immunological, and anti-inflammatory properties of breastmilk provide health advantages to a nursing baby, including reduced risks of asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, ear and respiratory infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Nursing mothers experience a lowered risk of disease, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and ovarian and breast cancer, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But that's not all. Breastfeeding is credited with positive psychosocial outcomes, most noticeably through the bond that develops between mother and child. As such, leading organizations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorse breastfeeding for at least 12 months of a child's life. Such consensus around the benefits of breastfeeding have resulted in an uptick in mothers who nurse, with the CDC reporting 58.3% of infants breastfeeding at 6 months in 2017.

Ahead, our experts help us sift through what we do know about using CBD when breastfeeding, so nursing mothers can make informed choices.

One reason you might think CBD is safe for nursing mothers is the fact that mother's milk naturally contains cannabinoids, similar to CBD. These cannabinoids may help stimulate a newborn's appetite. In fact, they work on the same receptors that are activated when people get the munchies from consuming THC. However, don't assume a case of "the more the merrier," says Thomas. Geary, too, warns there's a big difference between what the body produces naturally and the "artificially imported chemicals" in commercial CBD. She adds, "Women have been breastfeeding forever. Mother's milk contains no impurities, no chemicals or pesticides, and no chance of an overdose."

Topical vs. Ingestible Use of CBD When Breastfeeding

Geary adds, "Every mother's metabolism is different; the absorption into the blood stream is different, and the actual dosage of the CBD listed is not considered accurate or reliable." She also brings up a point about the lack of regulation surrounding CBD products. In March of 2020, the FDA issued a statement promising to advance regulatory practices of CBD, admitting wide gaps in data and a lack of market transparency. The same report notes, "we are also not at a point where we can conclude that unapproved CBD products are safe for use." Thomas adds that for reliable data, we'll need to evaluate a couple thousand people over at least 15 years. Current data doesn't meet either of those criteria.

Increased duration of breastfeeding does, however, extend the postpartum period, which, as you probably know, may result in fatigue, interrupted sleep, and the emotional pressure that can accompany feeding a little one 24/7. As wonderful as breastfeeding may be, it can also be overwhelming, leaving nursing mothers exhausted and in need of relief; after all, being a source of unconditional comfort is draining. Widely available CBD might seem like a godsend, offering an instant feeling of calm without a hangover or any of the psychoactive effects of marijuana. But here's the rub: Even though CBD is natural, we don't yet know how CBD affects a developing baby and child, and what the longterm effects might be to a baby who has been exposed to CBD through breastmilk.

Again, this is all based on THC, but "until further studies are completed, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should not use CBD or other cannabinoids," Clifton says.

CBD has been a hot topic in wellness and medicine for the past couple of years. Some people swear by the derivative of hemp to relax, de-stress, and sleep better. So it makes perfect sense that new mothers, dealing with sleepless nights thanks to late-night feeding and early mornings, out-of-whack hormones, or even postpartum anxiety and depression in some cases, would be curious about the benefits.

Again, since experts can't study CBD in infants, "all we have is information from babies who were born addicted to substances in the cannabinoid family," Clifton says. And the list of potential risks is long. "Symptoms for cannabis exposure often include lethargy, somnolence, blood sugar abnormalities, or even coma."

Is Any Kind of CBD Safe to Take While Breastfeeding?

Bottom line: CBD is currently unregulated by the FDA, so there is very little known about the safety of taking it while breastfeeding.

If new motherhood is really taking a toll — mentally, physically, or both — there are some safe alternatives to taking CBD.

The problem is, we know very little about the safety of taking CBD while breastfeeding because of the inability to test infants.

The Science On CBD While Breastfeeding

That's why experts say it's best just to stay away from CBD altogether during both pregnancy and while breastfeeding until we know more. "Right now, we do not have any accurate studies showing how long CBD stays in your system," Nicole Williams, M.D., ob-gyn and founder of the Gynecology Institute of Chicago tells InStyle. "This could be as short as a few days or maybe even weeks!"

"What research is telling us is that postpartum depression can last many months after the baby has arrived, so don't think you have to be a supermom immediately," says Dr. Williams. She suggests traditional talk therapy for anxious new moms or, if prescribed, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) as safe and effective treatment options.