Last Updated 5 months by Shariful Alam Pavel
Is CBD use safe during breastfeeding?
Nothing can compare to the joy and satisfaction of giving birth. For mothers, the sheer delight of introducing a new life to the world and nurturing it with their breastmilk is a life-changing and rewarding experience. However, between all the glory and responsibilities of motherhood, we often overlook the real challenges that come with it. Breastfeeding is incredibly demanding for a new mother.
Newborns do not develop a circadian rhythm (i.e. they do not naturally distinguish between day and night and hence do not sleep through the night) before 3-5 months and typically need to be fed every two hours for 45 minutes to an hour throughout the 24-hour cycle. The result is a big dent in the mother’s sleep patterns. All the physical and mental tolls can result in many conditions including but not limited to depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia.
If we throw in postpartum complications into the mix, compounded by the lack of sleep and hormonal shifts that naturally occur after giving birth, we are looking at a complete meltdown of the new mother. Hence, it is no surprise that new parents are constantly looking into new remedies that provide relief for the mother and are safe for the baby while not affecting breast milk quality or quantity.
CBD or Cannabidiol has recently become popular as a natural remedy for depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia. It can overlap with the challenges of the new mother as mentioned above. But is CBD use safe during breastfeeding? Read on to explore.
What is CBD?
Before we evaluate the safety of CBD during breastfeeding, let us first understand what CBD is. CBD or Cannabidiol is one of the two most commonly known compounds derived from the cannabis plant . The other compound is THC which produces the “high” usually associated with ingesting cannabis. CBD, however, is not psychoactive and does not produce the “high” but is touted to have many benefits. CBD is almost considered a panacea to depression and insomnia.
Due to CBD’s many claimed health benefits, there has been much hype around it, making it quickly ubiquitous in many forms such as oils and edibles. The trouble is many of the claimed benefits are backed mostly by people’s experiences, not research. So, let us look at what science has to say about the miracle treatment that CBD is thought to be.
CBD VS THC – What to know while breastfeeding
Almost all the research on the effects of cannabis on breast milk is primarily focused on THC. Studies have shown that THC is measurable in breast milk for up to six days after the mother has ingested (smoked or edible) some form of marijuana. A study from 2011 by The Cain Foundation Laboratories suggested that children exposed to cannabis in their prenatal stages display behavioral and neurological problems. Another research study by the National Institutes of Health showed prenatal exposure to cannabis might have adverse effects such as low birth weight, placement in the neonatal intensive care unit, and preterm birth.
It is to be noted that the above studies are focused on marijuana and not exclusively on CBD. Marijuana is known to have high levels of THC. Whereas pure CBD, as mentioned previously, has little to no traces of THC.
However, when it comes to the impact of pure CBD on breast milk, there is a limited number of studies on the matter. Although there is a lack of empirical evidence around the influence CBD has on breastmilk. There are certain aspects to consider that does allude to the beneficial impact of CBD on breast milk.
CBD on Breast milk
Scientists have recently discovered the presence of cannabinoid receptors within the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Homeostasis–the process of maintaining chemical balance within the body–is supported by the ECS. A developing baby means a developing ECS nurtured by endocannabinoids in breast milk. Hence, it can be deduced that breast milk naturally contains endocannabinoids, which are what CBD’s are made of. Moreover, a lack of endocannabinoids would be seriously detrimental to the infant’s health, as it may result in a disorder that limits its desire to feed. The condition can eventually result in malnourishment or death in exceptional cases because endocannabinoids present in breast milk stimulate the baby’s desire to suckle.
Even though there is a natural presence of cannabinoids or CBDs in breast milk, it is difficult to estimate the amount required as CBDs are highly fat soluble and are readily dissolved in breast milk.
Should mothers have CBD while breastfeeding?
As tempting as it can be for mothers to go for any remedies or medicines that work, a new mother must be particularly conscious of her diet as what she is ingesting can easily make its way into her breastmilk and eventually to the baby. Therefore, it is advised for mothers to be extra cautious when it comes to administering CBD as a remedy. New mothers should be mindful of the lack of evidence at present on the impact of CBD while breastfeeding. Hence, FDA strongly advises against the use of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
However, if a new mother is still willing to try CBD being fully aware of the potential adverse effects, a few ways are mentioned below to further educate the mother on the best course of action available:
- Consult with a medical professional: The mother must consult with a medical professional about the risks and benefits of CBD as well as any interferences. It can cause with any administered medication
- Select high-quality products: Extra caution should be taken while selecting brands. Pure CBD products from reliable manufacturers that guarantee no THC, solvents, and/or other impurities should be selected.
- Monitor the baby: While taking CBDs, the baby must be closely monitored for any change in behavior or feeding. Any change must be reported to a medical professional without delay.
Final Verdict: Is CBD use safe during breastfeeding?
New mothers do need respite from the challenges of breastfeeding. The postpartum period is a sensitive time for the development of the infant, and breastfeeding mothers need to make educated choices when it comes to their diet, as it may have an impact on the breastmilk and thus on the infant. Even though it is established that THC and CBD are vastly different cannabinoids, there has been little to no research on the safety of using CBD exclusively while breastfeeding. Therefore, it is recommended that mothers are extra careful when taking the CBD remedy route.