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The days and weeks after giving birth can be both exhilarating and trying for a new parent. After a long wait and birth experience, you finally have your exquisite bundle of joy in your arms, but at the same time, you’re tired, you’re fragile, you’re in pain, and you’re likely experiencing constant mood swings. In the storm of emotions and a baby who needs you around the clock, cannabidiol could seem like the perfect solution.
The best way to decide if using CBD while breastfeeding is an acceptable risk to take would be to mention the idea to your doctor or midwife, and weigh up the benefits along with the risks. For example, if you’re doing well in the postpartum period and feeling supported by family and friends, you might not need to supplement with products that have not been conclusively tested for safety in infants.
If You Do Take CBD Oil while Breastfeeding
Because of the FDA’s stance on avoiding CBD while breastfeeding, we label our products as “not to be used if you are pregnant or nursing.” We take the health of our customers seriously and want to help you find your coast—without undue risk to minors.
Studies show that skin-to-skin contact can be as important for you as it is for your baby—potentially decreasing the need for CBD oil while breastfeeding. In a meta-analysis published in 2017, babywearing or “kangaroo care” was overwhelmingly shown to increase oxytocin (the love hormone) in the mother, blocking the stress response and promoting calmness and connection.
Join us for an exploration of the issues surrounding CBD oil while breastfeeding to make a well-informed decision for your body.
Taking a Leaf out of History’s Book
Our passion at EndoCoast is to produce high-quality CBD products from all-natural hemp, without the pesticides and THC that cramp your style. We believe that you deserve a clean and high-quality product—whether or not your doctor permits CBD oil while breastfeeding—and that’s why we have all of our products tested with a third-party laboratory, viewable on the Certificates of Analysis on our site.
The total amount of THC that the baby ingests through breast milk has been observed to be around 2.5% of the amount inhaled by the mother, so we could expect the effects of CBD oil while breastfeeding to be minimal compared to the effects of taking the oil during pregnancy.
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.
This means you can't pump and feel confident the CBD is out of your system, like you might after say, drinking a glass of wine. "CBD takes longer to metabolize and process through the body than alcohol," says Thomas. "We know that cannabinoids stick to the fatty parts of breast milk and hang out longer."
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."
Topical vs. Ingestible Use of CBD When Breastfeeding
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."
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.
What the Data Says About CBD and 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.
Geary adds, "A very real problem is that the products are unregulated and may be contaminated with harmful chemicals—such as pesticides, bacteria, fungus, and heavy metals—which can harm the fetus or baby."