The world is changing, and for moms that means raising your kids in a (hopefully) progressive society. Like one that legalizes marijuana. One of the hot topics of the election season was marijuana, both in recreational and medical uses, but what does it mean for moms — particularly ones who are breastfeeding? Is it safe? How soon can you breastfeed after smoking weed?
Whether you're smoking marijuana for medical reasons or recreational purposes, the drug is becoming legalized in parts of the country and, according to The Washington Post, those behind the marijuana reform are hoping that the national ban on cannabis will soon be gone. That's great, but what does it mean for the nursing mom? Can she continue to breastfeed her baby if she's smoking weed? Is it like alcohol and OK in moderation, as long as you aren't feeling the affects of the drug while you're nursing?
Unfortunately, there's not a ton of research on how marijuana affects breastfed babies, but the use of pot while nursing a baby is not recommended. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has actually opposed the legalization of marijuana. Although part of the reason may be because of the effects of marijuana on children, marijuana is also listed on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)'s list of drugs that have adverse effects on children who are breastfeeding. While on the list, it's noted that there is only one report in the literature and there weren't any side effects mentioned, the AAP noted that marijuana had a very long half-life for some components and was present in baby's urine.
According to Kelly Mom, THC, the main ingredient in marijuana, is stored in your fat tissues for long periods of time (like weeks to months) and will continue to build up in your body if you continue to smoke. It's not like alcohol that leaves your blood stream and your breast milk within a few hours; THC is concentrated in your breast milk.
Again, there haven't been significant side effects of marijuana on babies, but Kelly Mom noted that a baby who has been exposed to weed can experience sleepiness which can slow down their weight gain and possibly slow down their development. Marijuana can also alter brain cells, especially during those first few months of your baby's life when there's a lot of brain growth happening.
There's no way of knowing how much marijuana is in your system or how long it could last before transferring to your baby through nursing. If you're going to smoke weed, and make it a habit, it's best to find an alternate way to feed your baby. Baby Center noted that a lot of marijuana is also laced with other drugs, so it's too big of a risk to take with your baby. Researchers just aren't sure of the long-term effects of marijuana on your baby, so it's best to either abstain from weed while you're breastfeeding, or use formula to feed your baby, especially if you're smoking for medicinal purposes.