CBD While Breastfeeding: Is It Safe?

WRITTEN by Edd

 | Last revised

May, 2022

CBD is used to treat a number of symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Many of these symptoms are commonly experienced by mothers after giving birth.

But is it safe to take CBD oil while breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding women need to pay close attention to the foods, drinks, and supplements they consume. Substances which are harmless or even beneficial for the mother might be harmful to the baby.

Is CBD one of these substances?

Why Are People Asking ‘Is CBD Oil Safe During Breastfeeding?’

If you were taking CBD oil before you became pregnant, or you are considering your options to manage a health condition or symptoms such as stress, nausea, pain, or poor sleep, it is important to know when it is safe to start taking CBD oil again.

Changes to women’s bodies and hormonal balance can cause a number of negative symptoms after birth. These include anxiety, nausea, stress, and insomnia, all of which can affect the health of a breastfeeding mother and her child.

CBD oil is used by some people to relieve or help manage these symptoms. Because CBD oil is a safe way to treat these symptoms with no side effects or only mild side effects in many other circumstances, it makes sense that CBD might also be a viable medication for breastfeeding women.

However, while many people can treat these symptoms with CBD, breastfeeding women may not be among them. The effects of CBD on a nursing baby are currently not fully understood.

Just because a treatment is safe and effective for a breastfeeding mother, does not mean it is also safe for her baby.

Conclusive research into the effects of CBD on adults is already scarce enough, studies on the effects on babies are even thinner on the ground.

Furthermore, the few studies on the subject of CBD and breastfeeding suggest that there may be several potential risks associated with taking CBD oil while breastfeeding.

What the science says about CBD And Breastfeeding

There are a few important factors to consider on the topic of CBD oil, breastfeeding, and its effects on the health of both mother and child.

While the research is limited and opinions vary, the following will help you understand why there may be risks associated with using CBD for breastfeeding babies.

How Could CBD Affect Breastfeeding Babies?

Breast milk provides babies with vital endocannabinoids, which are the cannabinoids that are made inside your body.

These play a role in many different functions that are important to a baby’s healthy development, such as stimulating their appetite and willingness to feed.

CBD oil provides phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids from plants) that may interact with the same cannabinoid receptors as the endocannabinoids from breast milk.

As a result, it might have the consequence of blocking the endocannabinoids that the baby needs.
Furthermore, the phytocannabinoids might also have negative effects on a growing infant that are unknown due to a lack of research.[1]

Studies have demonstrated that THC is passed on to the baby’s system through breastfeeding, but we don’t know if CBD behaves the same way.

If it does, we don’t know what the possible effects could be. CBD is of little risk to young children and can be used to treat some conditions in children such as epilepsy.[2]

However, it may pose more risk to developing babies who are breastfeeding. CBD oil does appear to have negative effects on babies while they are still in the womb, and this might also be the case while they are breastfeeding.

On this basis alone, most healthcare providers recommend that women do not take CBD oil while pregnant or breastfeeding.

It is also important to note that our understanding of the effects of CBD on breastfeeding is very incomplete. As a result, you should always discuss CBD oil with your doctor before using it and consider more well-understood alternatives.

What About Other CBD Products?

Oral forms of CBD such as sublingual drops and oral sprays can affect your baby because the cannabidiol and other cannabinoids will enter your bloodstream, and through that, they may be found in breast milk.
The same problem occurs when you ingest edibles or inhale from a vape or inhaler.

However, some forms of CBD do not permeate your bloodstream in the same way. Instead, they stay localised to a specific area. These can be much safer to use while breastfeeding.

The most common type of localised CBD product is topical skin creams. The majority of cannabidiol in these products will not leave the skin tissues of the area that you applied them to. While no formal studies exist on the subject yet, it is likely that lotions, shampoos, perfumes, soaps, and other CBD products that don’t enter your body will pose a lower risk than oral CBD. [3]

When Can I Resume Taking CBD Oil After Pregnancy?

You should not take any oral, edible, or inhaled form of CBD oil while you are pregnant, or while you are breastfeeding. It could be safer to use topical CBD products when pregnant or breastfeeding, the research necessary to prove this does not exist yet.

There are no reasons to believe CBD oil poses a threat to pregnant or breastfeeding women, only to their infants. As a result, it is safe to resume taking CBD oil as soon as you have stopped breastfeeding. Most health organisations recommend breastfeeding for at least 1 year. [4]

CBD Alternatives While Breastfeeding

If you were relying on CBD to treat your symptoms before becoming pregnant, you might be looking for some safer alternatives to help you manage while breastfeeding instead of CBD oil.

Nausea

There are prescription medications for severe nausea that you can take while breastfeeding. For less severe nausea, try eating small snacks frequently, to avoid letting your stomach get empty. Stock up on stomach-settling foods like soup and plain crackers, and avoid spicy or greasy foods.

Insomnia

There are plenty of over-the-counter and prescription sleeping aids that are safe for breastfeeding mothers, but also plenty that are not. Make sure to check with your doctor before taking any sleep medication.

Stress and Anxiety

Some antidepressants are safe to take while breastfeeding. Additionally, seeking social support and therapy is just as important as medication in tackling depression after birth.

A woman breastfeeding her baby.

Is It Safe To Take CBD Oil While Breastfeeding?

According to the limited research that exists today, CBD oil is not safe to take while breastfeeding but this does not mean it’s inherently dangerous either. There just isn’t enough research to support its use during breastfeeding and most doctors are risk-averse and err on the side of caution.

Its presence alone in their system could prevent the uptake of vital endocannabinoids. Furthermore, the effects that cannabidiol has in influencing the health and growth of a developing baby are not known because of the lack of large-scale studies.
However, studies on mice have shown a number of risks that may also exist for humans. These include: [5]

  • Increased anxiety in adult offspring
  • The altered DNA structure of genes in the brains of offspring
  • The affected genes are associated with healthy brain formation, autism, epilepsy, and substance abuse in adults

Green Market CBD Oil Risks

Additionally, you may not get a prescription for CBD oil if you are breastfeeding. That means some people may try to access CBD oil from the green market.

Low-quality CBD oil sold in unlicensed markets is more likely to contain toxic contaminants such as bacteria or heavy metals, due to unregulated manufacturing conditions and quality standards.
These are harmful even to healthy adults, and especially to the undeveloped immune system of a baby.

Of course, you can still buy over-the-counter CBD oil products without a prescription. While these are safer than buying from the green market, and provide lower dosages than prescription CBD oils, they are still a largely unknown risk.

The Effects Of CBD Oil On Developing Babies Are Unknown

Much more research is needed before we can be certain about the effects of any form of CBD on the infants of breastfeeding women. The small amount of research that is available varies greatly in the dosages and dosing routine used in the studies, and whether or not other cannabinoids like THC were present, and almost none of it involves human subjects.

If you are considering using a topical CBD cream while breastfeeding, discuss CBD use with a trained cannabis clinician who can explain the risks and provide personalised advice for you and your situation. If topical CBD creams are an unsuitable treatment for you, look into natural alternatives that can help with the same symptoms.

Of course, you should still do your research and talk to your doctor before taking a natural alternative too.

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References

1. Julia Ries, "FDA Says Don’t Use CBD, THC Products While Breastfeeding".
Healthline.
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/fda-says-to-not-use-cbd-thc-products-while-breastfeeding.
2. Richard J Huntsman, Richard Tang-Wai and Alan E Shackelford, "Cannabis for Pediatric Epilepsy".
National Library of Medicine.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31895184/.
3. Natalie Larsen, "Why CBD and Pregnancy Don't Mix".
Mpls St Paul.
https://mspmag.com/health-and-fitness/why-cbd-and-pregnancy-dont-mix/.
4. Karen Gill MD, " Is There A Right Age To Stop Breastfeeding? ".
Healthline.
https://www.healthline.com/health/breastfeeding/when-to-stop-breastfeeding#recommendations .
5. Nicole M. Wanner, Mathia Colwell, Chelsea Drown & Christopher Faulk, " Clinical Epigenetics, Developmental cannabidiol exposure increases anxiety and modifies genome-wide brain DNA methylation in adult female mice ".
Clinical Epigenetics.
https://clinicalepigeneticsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13148-020-00993-4 .

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Disclaimer. While we strive to relay the most factual education available, this shouldn’t replace official medical or legal consultation and recommendation. This is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Happy days.

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