A 2018 study surrounding THC and breastfeeding, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, indicates that THC is measurable in breastmilk for up to six days after maternal marijuana use. Cannabinoids love to adhere to fat, and breastmilk is viscous as it contains long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.
When it comes to topical versus ingestible use of CBD, again, there’s a dearth of data on the longterm effects. However, Thomas says that topical CBD products are a bit safer because CBD isn’t entering your bloodstream in the same way. “Postpartum women might apply a CBD salve to a scar, achy muscles, or to ease sore nipples,” explains Thomas, adding that you should make sure to clean nipples before your baby latches.
Topical vs. Ingestible Use of 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.
CBD remains out of the purview of the FDA, leaving each company or brand in control of monitoring the product's safety. "Some companies are able to afford testing and studies," says Thomas. "Others aren't."
What the Data Says About CBD and Breastfeeding
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."
According to Dr. Williams, "when it comes to CBD, there is no 'safe' level for neither pregnancy nor breastfeeding."
But what if you're a new mom and also nursing? Is taking CBD still a good idea? Here's what you need to know about CBD and breastfeeding.
What we do know comes from studies about marijuana and breastfeeding. According to a study from UC San Diego, THC was measurable in most breast milk samples for up to six days after the substance was consumed or ingested by the mother.
Is Any Kind of CBD Safe to Take While Breastfeeding?
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.
Plus, according to the FDA, levels of THC in breastmilk can negatively affect a baby's brain development, which could result in poor cognitive function and other long-term conditions. "Higher concentrations of cannabinoids than those naturally present have not been studied in young people with developing brains, and there is concern that cannabinoids could damage developing neural tissues," Clifton explains.
In other words, CBD can't just be treated like having a glass of wine if you're currently nursing. "The pump and dump method can't work because you have no idea if there is still CBD in your breastmilk," Dr. Williams adds.
The Science On CBD While Breastfeeding
"In cases like this, I often tell my patients, 'why take the risk?'" Dr. Williams says.
However, topical CBD salves and balms (rather than ingestible forms) are most likely to be a bit safer, because they aren't directly entering your bloodstream. Some doulas say you should be okay to use a topical product for sore muscles or nipples, as long as you clean the area before your baby nurses — but be sure to talk to your doctor first.