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Is It Safe to Take CBD While Breastfeeding?

We've all been told that it's dangerous to use cannabis while you're pregnant and breastfeeding, but what about CBD? CBD is marketed as a safe, natural alternative to many medications that can help you alleviate stress, fight inflammation, and more. But is it safe to take CBD while breastfeeding? Here, we'll help you answer this question and provide some alternative options to help you through the postpartum period.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of hundreds of compounds called cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Although it shares certain similarities with other cannabis products, it contains no psychoactive properties and, therefore, has no psychoactive effects. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the part of the plant that's often associated with cannabis use and is responsible for giving individuals the "high" feeling that follows marijuana use. However, CBD is considered non-psychoactive, so you won't experience any changes in perception, feelings of euphoria, or anxiety common in the effects of marijuana. Therefore, many people who ingest marijuana and THC for health reasons have started switching to CBD, as the potential benefits remain the same without the "high" feeling.

Unfortunately, CBD is still relatively new, so there's still a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the use of CBD versus the use of cannabis. In reality, the legal CBD products available are derived from hemp plants, which contain extremely low levels of THC. Hemp and marijuana are both types of cannabis plants, but hemp has THC levels of around 0.3%, while marijuana has THC levels that can reach as high as 30%. Still, using CBD products isn't for everyone and breastfeeding moms should be cautious.

Why Some Breastfeeding Mothers Consider CBD Use

Breastfeeding women may consider CBD use for a variety of reasons. It's been found that CBD may help provide:

  • Pain Relief: Childbirth can result in various types of pain, from the soreness of childbirth to back pain and muscle aches. Some women turn to CBD for its potential analgesic properties.
  • Anxiety and Stress: The demands of caring for a newborn, coupled with sleep deprivation, can increase stress and anxiety levels. CBD is known for its anxiolytic effects, which may help alleviate these symptoms.
  • Sleep Aid: Many new mothers struggle to get adequate sleep due to their baby's feeding schedule and nighttime awakenings. CBD is often used to improve sleep quality and duration.
  • Postpartum Depression: Some women experience postpartum depression, which may lead them to seek alternative treatments like CBD to manage their symptoms.
  • General Well-being: CBD's potential wellness benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, appeal to those looking to maintain good health during this transformative period.

    Many breastfeeding parents would see these benefits as a win-win, and supplementing with CBD may seem like a good option for new moms who need help but want to stick to something "natural." However, although using CBD does not produce psychoactive effects, CBD can still pass into breast milk. Therefore, new mothers should be extremely cautious about CBD use and instead follow recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC.

    The Science Behind CBD and Breastfeeding

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly advise against the use of any type of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana products in any form throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Although most science focuses on substance use during pregnancy—such as THC and marijuana—there's not enough research on CBD to eliminate risk.

    How Long Does CBD Last in Breast Milk?

    Cannabinoids bind to fats in your body, which means they remain in your system for longer than alcohol or nicotine. In regards to marijuana and breastfeeding, THC can stay in your system for up to 30 days after use.

    However, research on this topic regarding CBD is limited, but studies have shown that CBD can transfer into breast milk. The duration of CBD's presence in breast milk varies among individuals and depends on the dosage, frequency of use, and metabolism.

    Studies suggest that the half-life of CBD in breast milk is around 18 to 32 hours. This means that it may take several days for CBD to clear the system entirely. The extended presence of CBD in breast milk raises questions about potential risks to the infant, including its developing brain and body.

    Risks of Using CBD When Breastfeeding

    The safety of CBD use has not been thoroughly studied, but some risks have been identified. Some of the potential risks of using CBD while breastfeeding include:

  • CBD concentrations in breast milk can be passed on to your child. CBD has not been deemed safe for use for children or infants.
  • Potential interactions with your baby's central nervous system, as CBD affects the CNS. Since the brain is still developing during the early stages of life, any substance that influences it should be approached with caution.
  • CBD can disrupt lactation and your milk supply during the postpartum period.
  • The CBD market is largely unregulated, which results in variations in product quality and purity. Contaminants or inconsistent concentrations of CBD could pose risks to both the mother and the infant.
  • The absence of extensive clinical trials on the safety of CBD during breastfeeding means that the full extent of potential risks is not yet known.

    Understanding Different Forms of CBD

    Although what research says about CBD and breastfeeding is limited, it's still important to consider some of the different forms and how they may impact you and your baby's health. Remember, since it's so new, the CBD industry is still not as regulated as other markets, so it's best to abstain from all types of use.

    Smoking CBD While Breastfeeding

    Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes is not safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding, but research surrounding CBD use is less understood. However, considering that smoking cigarettes can pass toxins through your breast milk, CBD concentrations in breast milk are also likely to be present. So, to err on the side of caution, it's best to assume that CBD is not safe for breastfeeding mothers. Additives, chemicals, heavy metals, or preservatives may also be present in CBD and are not considered safe. Plus, anything that you smoke can impact you and your baby's health, so it's simply not worth it.

    Taking CBD Oil While Breastfeeding

    CBD oil is generally considered safe for most adults, but consuming it while breastfeeding is another story. Breastfeeding mothers may still face all of the same risks that come with smoking CBD, so it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid it until you've weaned your baby.

    Topical CBD Products While Breastfeeding

    Topical CBD products may be safe for nursing mothers as long as the products don't absorb into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, due to the lack of research, it's hard to determine what's safe and what's not. If you have any doubts, it's better to avoid anything that could cause your baby harm.

    CBD Products vs. Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    It's essential to distinguish between using CBD products and marijuana during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Unlike CBD, marijuana contains significant levels of THC, the psychoactive compound that can affect cognitive function and may pose more significant risks to the developing fetus and infant.

    The use of marijuana during pregnancy has been associated with potential adverse outcomes, such as low birth weight and developmental problems. The effects of marijuana use while breastfeeding are not well-documented, but THC can transfer to breast milk, potentially affecting the baby's neurological development.

    Alternative Options for CBD Use While Breastfeeding

    If you are a breastfeeding mother seeking relief from postpartum issues and are concerned about the potential risks associated with CBD, several alternative options are worth exploring:

  • Lifestyle Changes: Implementing healthy lifestyle changes, such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management techniques, can significantly improve well-being during the postpartum period.
  • Consult a Healthcare Professional: Reach out to your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms and explore other potential treatments that are considered safe for breastfeeding mothers.
  • Support Groups and Therapy: Connecting with support groups and seeking therapy can be highly beneficial in managing postpartum stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Natural Remedies: Explore alternative natural remedies, such as herbal teas, aromatherapy, and relaxation techniques to alleviate postpartum symptoms.
  • Safe Medications: In some cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe safe medications compatible with breastfeeding to address specific symptoms.

While some people may find relief in using CBD products, the lack of comprehensive research and potential risks to infants means it should probably be off-limits during breastfeeding. If you're struggling, talk to your healthcare provider to learn about your options. To help support a healthy breastfeeding journey, don’t forget to get your insurance-covered breast pump from Byram Healthcare. Contact one of our specialists today to learn more or get started with your order.