Firstly, let's be clear - recreational cannabis use is illegal here in Australia. But I'd be fibbing if I said I've never taken a puff during my 15-year breastfeeding journey. It's rumored to be a pretty potent pain reliever for, say, a killer toothache... but that's just hearsay, of course.
So, is it safe for breastfeeding mums to use cannabis? Let's LactaChat about it.
Does Cannabis find it’s way into your breastmilk?
Well, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) can sneak into breastmilk in small quantities. In a study involving 50 women who admitted to using cannabis in the past fortnight, THC was detected in the milk of 66% of them. But let's be honest, not many breastfeeding mums are volunteering for these studies. So the studies are limited and small.
Ok, but are the risks to my breastfed baby if I ingest Cannabis?
The most extensive study on this topic focused on early and premature babies. The results? Only minimal short-term health effects. However, we're still in the dark about the long-term effects of THC exposure through breastmilk. That's why most health experts agree that there's no safe level of Cannabis use during breastfeeding.
Are their other risks beyond my breastmilk being tainted ?
Yep, beyond direct exposure to cannabis via your milk, other risks include second and third-hand smoke exposure, possible unsafe sleeping arrangements, and potential impairment in caring for your baby.
Look, we may not have the full scoop on breastfeeding and cannabis, but we know enough about second-hand and third-hand smoke to raise red flags. It can mess with your baby's breathing, heart rate, growth, and even increase their risk of sudden unexpected infant death (SUDI).
Research also tells us that children exposed to smoke can face different health issues, from lung problems to brain development issues. And if your child already has health problems? Smoke exposure can exacerbate them. Third-hand smoke is no less harmful. Research also tells us that children in smoking households are twice as likely to pick up their parents' habits.
Can I please remind you that this is a zero-judgment zone.
As a co-sleeping mum can Cannabis use affect our safe sleeping arrangements?
Yep, in my opinion one often overlooked risk of cannabis use while breastfeeding is the potential for unsafe sleeping arrangements. As a mum, you're likely all too familiar with the exhaustion that comes with caring for a baby. If you're using cannabis, it's possible that this could make you sleep more deeply. While this might sound like a dream come true, it can actually put your baby at risk, especially if you're co-sleeping. You might not wake up as easily to your baby's movements or sounds, which could lead to dangerous situations.
What about caring for your breastfed baby?
Another important consideration is how cannabis might affect your ability to care for your baby. Again zero judgement, we all know our limits. But it would be irresponsible of me not to say that it's possible that Cannabis might affect your ability to safely care and breastfeed your baby ( you know in the same way as excessive amounts of alcohol ).
So while we wait for more research on direct exposure to cannabis via our breastmilk, these indirect risks alone are kinda reason enough to approach cannabis use with extra caution while breastfeeding.
While cannabis might be natural, its impact on breastfeeding and your baby's health remains largely unknown. Until more research emerges, perhaps it's best to err on the side of caution ? As always protect your milk supply, and always prioritize your baby's safety.
Stay milky, mama!
Until our next LactaChat
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