Breastfeeding is recognized as the preferred form of infant nutrition by the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Infants who are breastfed experience nutritional and developmental advantages that enhance their health throughout their lives.
The choice to breastfeed conveys health benefits to the mother as well. Breastfeeding also imparts economic benefits for families as well as savings for our society. Several studies have established that education and support for pregnant women can dramatically increase breastfeeding rates.
Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom
Before we look at the effect of weed on your health and that of your baby, let’s look at the benefits of breastfeeding. It turns out that breastfeeding can boost your health, since it:
Lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Studies show that women who breastfeed have less risk of these cancers later in life.
Helps you lose pregnancy weight. Because milk production burns about 300 to 500 calories a day, nursing mothers tend to have an easier time losing pregnancy weight in a healthy way—that is, slowly and without dieting. “Breast milk contains 20 calories per ounce. If you feed your baby 20 ounces a day, that’s 400 calories you’ve swept out of your body,” says Lawrence.
Triggers your uterus to shrink back to prepregnancy size. In fact, in the first few weeks, you might feel mild contractions while you’re nursing.
May lower your risk of osteoporosis. Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis. When a woman is pregnant and lactating, her body absorbs calcium much more efficiently, So while some bones, particularly those in the spine and hips, maybe a bit less dense at weaning, six months later, they are denser than before pregnancy.”
Heals your body after delivery. The oxytocin released when your baby nurses help your uterus contract, reducing post-delivery blood loss. Plus, breastfeeding will help your uterus return to its normal size more quickly—at about six weeks postpartum, compared with 10 weeks if you don’t breastfeed.
Delays menstruation. Breastfeeding your baby around the clock—no bottles or formula—will delay ovulation, which means delayed menstruation. “Breastfeeding causes the release of prolactin, which keeps estrogen and progesterone at bay so ovulation isn’t triggered.
Can You Smoke Weed While Breastfeeding?
Approximately 25% of American women of reproductive age smoke, and many continue to smoke during and after pregnancy despite the known potential harm to their own health and to their child’s health. These health threats remain after the child’s birth as the baby is exposed to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other toxins in both ambient air and breast milk. Smoking weed during pregnancy should be avoided by all means for the following reasons:
It can contaminate your breastmilk
It is possible to pass low levels of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to your baby via breast milk. A study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at samples of breast milk from eight anonymous test subjects who regularly use cannabis. They tested the milk 20 minutes after ingestion and then at one, two, and four hours post-ingestion. Babies who were three to five months old and who were breastfed exclusively ingested an estimated 2.5 percent of the maternal dose of THC, according to the study. The levels are low in the milk, and even less would be absorbed by the infants.
Weed in breast milk negatively affects your child’s brain
Researchers warn new/nursing moms against smoking marijuana and breastfeeding, as the jury is out on THC’s effect on an infant’s brain. Children of marijuana users were more impulsive and hyperactive and exhibited behavioral issues, lower IQ scores, and memory problems when compared to children of non-users. These mental health problems persisted through their teenage years, where they were significantly more likely to have attention problems and depression.
Weed in breast milk negatively affects your babies for a longer time
According to studies, low levels of THC may be found in breast milk for up to six days after smoking cannabis or eating an edible, among other forms of use. In a study published in August in the journal Pediatrics, researchers analyzed concentrations of THC and other compounds in the breast milk of 50 women who reported using marijuana. The women had children who ranged in age from newborns to toddlers older than 12 months. Between 2014-2017, women provided 54 total breast milk samples, which were analyzed at the University of California San Diego’s Mommy’s Milk lab, a human milk research biorepository. The women also reported in questionnaires whether they were exposed to marijuana, medications, and other substances in the 14 days before their milk samples were collected.
Weed can Interfere with your babies’ medications
THC makes its way into breast milk via blood vessels in the breast that provide access to the glands where milk is produced. It is this pathway in which chemicals or medications in the blood can end up in breast milk, Dr. Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, professor and chief of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern’s William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital in Dallas, who was not involved with either recent study, explained to CNN.
“Pump and dump” logic doesn’t really follow for weed
The body stores marijuana in fat cells, and the body uses fat to make breast milk. That’s why the “pump and dump” logic doesn’t really follow for cannabis use and breastfeeding. Chemicals from cannabis that entered the body days or weeks prior to breastfeeding can make their way into breast milk, according to Medical News Today.
Researchers say there is more work to be done, in so far as seeing if THC in breast milk translates to THC in a baby’s blood, potentially impacting their health. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend physicians counsel moms to abstain from all cannabis products if they wish to breastfeed. ALSO SEE: Can You Smoke Weed While Pregnant?