Can you use CBD when pregnant?
Is CBD oil safe during pregnancy? In recent years, CBD has taken the alternative therapy and natural remedy market by storm. CBD oil, in particular, is receiving much attention as a potential treatment for a range of physical and mental ailments. In addition to being a suitable remedy for chronic pain, anxiety, depression and many more conditions, CBD oil has also been found to help improve symptoms of insomnia and help users cope with mood swings. With more people turning to CBD to alleviate the symptoms of various mental and physical conditions, those who are pregnant may begin to wonder if this natural, plant-based substance could be useful for them. We look at the research to see whether you can use CBD when pregnant.
CBD and pregnancy
Currently, researchers don't know enough about CBD and its effects on fetal health and development. Of the available research, there are some concerns over pregnant people using CBD products. In the UK, regulators in the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have cautioned against using CBD products when pregnant and breastfeeding.
However, as no studies have been done on human pregnant people, it is inconclusive whether CBD is safe to use when pregnant. Further, it is unethical to conduct studies on unborn babies, therefore the data that can be collected when looking at the effects of CBD on pregnancy is limited.
Although, a study on mice suggests that CBD may have a lasting impact on offspring, into adulthood. Also, during early pregnancy, one-time exposure to cannabinoids in mice has been shown to cause growth issues in a developing embryo. Therefore, caution is advised when consuming CBD products when pregnant. Always consult your medical professional for advice.
Benefits of CBD for pregnancy
Whilst further research is needed, CBD has been found to show positive effects for a range of conditions. For pregnant people what may be of particular interest is CBD's ability to help with pain, and nausea, aid with sleep and reduce anxiety.
CBD has been shown to help with pain relief. Studies using animals have shown that CBD lowered nerve pain and reduced inflammation. As well as, helping to lower pain after surgery. A 2018 study showed that CBD helped treat chronic pain. See our article on CBD’s efficacy for chronic pain, for more information.
Research on animals has indicated that CBD can be effective in reducing nausea.
Further, a 2019 study explored CBD efficacy for sleep and anxiety problems. The study found that after 1 month, 79% of participants said they had reduced anxiety levels, and 66% reported that they had experienced better sleep.
Insomnia, pain, nausea, morning sickness and anxiety are common symptoms when pregnant. Using CBD has shown to be effective in treating these issues. However, as little research has been conducted examining the use of CBD when pregnant, it is hard to say how CBD may affect the fetus, despite the potential advantages of CBD on pregnancy symptoms.
Risks of CBD when pregnant
People who are pregnant may accidentally consume contaminated CBD products. Low-quality CBD products that cannot be verified that they have been tested by independent laboratories for contaminants, like mould or, pesticides, populate searches for CBD products. Therefore, there is a risk of pregnant people consuming harmful substances. See our guide on where to buy CBD for best practices on finding high-quality CBD products.
Some CBD products may also contain small, trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis that produces the ‘high’. These traces are dangerous for pregnant people as they could still be passed onto the baby. Scientists strongly advise against consuming THC products when pregnant or breastfeeding as cannabis has been reported to lead to behavioural and cognitive performance issues, as well as affecting the child’s neurodevelopment.
Although, these studies are mostly causational in nature, suggesting an increased risk but no definitive proof. There may also be other factors influencing the result, such as the frequency of use, and the potency of the products.
CBD use also has some side effects, such as fatigue, appetite changes and diarrhoea. Although minimal, these side effects in addition to pregnancy symptoms may be uncomfortable for some people.
In addition, depending on what medications they are taking, pregnant people may be advised against using CBD products. As CBD can interact with some medications. See our guide for what drugs should not be taken with CBD oil for more information.
CBD when pregnant?
Overall, scientists don't yet know enough about how CBD affects pregnant people and fetal health and development. CBD may be beneficial for some of the symptoms of pregnancy. There are also important risks pregnant people should be aware of when consuming CBD products, such as the quality of the product, the side effects and what medications they are taking. Until more research is conducted on human participants, it is difficult to say if pregnant people should, or shouldn't use CBD.
If you are experiencing difficulty when pregnant, it is best to speak to your medical practitioner for advice on how to manage.