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Are you Smoking Weed during Pregnancy?

Women in the 21st century have lives that are so far removed from the ‘matriarch’ mothers of the 20th century.  Women now have to juggle work with mother-hood, make sure they look good and fit into the social norms and the social media era of Instagram and Facebook. Growing peer pressure to fit in can put stress on their emotions and pregnancy can be challenging, as our bodies change and we are forced to sacrifice the vices we turned to prior to deciding to have a baby.

A while ago, I was introduced to a  young attractive pregnant woman.  She was well dressed and bright and articulate.  During our consultation she disclosed to me that she had ceased smoking cannabis as soon as she saw the blue line on the pregnancy test. I was a bit taken aback, and I needed to know more.

We engaged in a long conversation as I wanted to explore her attitude to smoking weed in general.  I am very aware that what I write should not breach any confidentiality rules, however I do feel by what she told me; that women all over the world are exposing their unborn babies to unnecessary risk, for the purpose of this blog I will call her Lola.  I  was now driven to explore the research and write this post, as it seems women’s attitudes and values in the 21st century are changing I need to know why?

Lola had a difficult upbringing, she advised me that her mother had smoked weed whilst pregnant with her.  Lola felt her mother was selfish and had broken the family up because she was a slave to the weed and other substances.  Her mother had suffered from chronic mental health problems as a result her of substance misuse.  She had never been able to emotionally support Lola and this had left her feeling angry.  There is a growing body of evidence that links long term substance misuse with emotional disturbances and mental health disorders.

‘Lola’ didn’t want to expose her unborn child to the same toxins.  However, as her pregnancy advanced she was now finding it hard to stay disciplined.  ‘Lola’ explained ‘The trouble is all my friends my age have had babies and they smoked it all the way through their pregnancies and never saw they were doing anything wrong!’

Lola wanted a better start for her unborn and I praised her for recognising the damage this habit can do and for being able to see that this unborn baby was a gift that she wanted to protect.  She explained that she had for the most part felt physically better and her head was clearer, but it was like a naughty little voice inside her was trying to tempt her to return to her habit.  I admired her openness.  We then discussed way’s I could help her, like referring her to other services for extra support and giving her advice on diet and exercise, which is always the best way to look after yourself during pregnancy.

If women disclose drug use during pregnancy we tend to ask them if they will consent to a drugs test.  Years ago I had a young client admit to smoking cannabis, and give me consent to a Toxicity (TOX) but when the ‘TOX’ screen came back, we also found methadone in her system.  It turned out that her controlling boyfriend had been lacing the weed with methadone to get his punters and her more hooked! She was brave enough to split up with him.  Her next ‘TOX’ screen at 36 weeks was negative and she went home to live with her mother!

So this led me to think; why do so many young women feel it is ‘OK’ to smoke weed during pregnancy?  Smoking in itself damages the placenta, decreasing the amount of oxygen traveling to the baby.  Babies need oxygen to grow and to help with childbirth.  Furthermore children of mothers that smoke are much more likely to smoke, in turn affecting their own health.  Nicotine is a very addictive drug, and so are some very strong strains of ‘SKUNK’ cannabis.  so why would anyone want their baby born addicted to a substance?

You never know what else is added to street drugs, of course drug dealers want to sell their product some will go to any lengths to entice their buyers!  I have read anecdotal reports from women who have sworn that smoking weed helps with morning sickness, yet for most women morning sickness subsides after the first trimester. Is this really an excuse?

Cannabis Oil

We do live in changing times, cannabis oil has been highlighted as helping so many disorders, Epilepsy, MS, and Cancer.  Maybe women are receiving mixed messages?  Cannabis oil is not smoked, cannabis oil does not necessarily contain THC, and I actually believe it could help many individuals with chronic illness.  I would like to see this aspect of cannabis legalised because I believe it would be monitored correctly, could be obtained on prescription  and we would be able to research the benefits in controlled environments.  Profits from the sales of medical cannabis, could be put back into the NHS.  Furthermore the nations Pot smokers would not be forced to got to a drug dealer, exposing them to risks of other drug use, like cocaine etc.

Who knows in the future research may prove that cannabis patches could help with childbirth or morning sickness.  However until a time when research can clarify the health benefits and in turn licensing becomes available; I am afraid ladies smoking weed does not help.  Smoking it just causes damage to you and your unborn baby. Smoking anything during pregnancy is plain stupid!

Research

It has been hard to research the effects of cannabis to the unborn child as only a fraction of women who smoke it will disclose this to their Midwife.  But the research I have explored does throw up some interesting statistics.  Babies of cannabis smoking babies, are smaller, when they are born they tremor and startle more and there are delays in the visual system shortly afterbirth.  The have a smaller aorta which is part of the heart, they also had a higher pulse rate.  This maybe associated with their detoxification at birth.  being disconnected from THC and Nicotine exposure may make these babies more unsettled for a while.

Furthermore, there are neuroscientists who believe that daily use of cannabis may changed brain patterns and neurological development.  We live in a society whereby 35% of mothers now take antidepressants whilst pregnant and childhood mental illness is on a sharp increase.  Scientists are now looking to following up the cannabis babies as adolescence to explore emotional and intellectual development.   These are the children of our future. We chose to bring these lives into the world, so why would we choose to expose them to risk’s inside us that may have an adverse affect on their childhood development?

Finally is it really that hard to give up the weed? Most women give up alcohol at the drop of a hat. Why are women not inspiring their peer’s to protect their young from as many hazards as possible.  After all life once our babies are bought into this world, they are going to face the everyday challenges that life throws at us.

Are we going to create a society that are master’s of their destiny or are we creating a world whereby we become slaves to substances? We all have the power to make the world a better place, we just need to wake up and protect the future generations. Protect your baby and throw that joint away!

Are your trying to quit weed? Try speaking to your Midwife or talk to Frank 

Written by Wendy Kuharska Midwife

References

Maternal Cannabis use whilst pregnant

The effects of prenatal cannabis exposure on fetal development

Prenatal exposure to cannabis and maternal and child-health outcomes

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