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U.S. Food and Drug Administration

What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding

FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

A mother holding an infant, a pregnant woman holding baby shoes, a marijuana leaf and the letters CBD and the word WARNING

Cannabis and Cannabis-derived products have become increasingly available in recent years, with new and different types of products appearing all the time. These products raise questions and concerns for many consumers. And if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you might have even more questions about whether these products are safe for you.

FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

What are cannabis, marijuana, hemp, THC and CBD?

Cannabis is a plant of the Cannabaceae family and contains more than eighty biologically active chemical compounds. The most commonly known compounds are THC and CBD. One type of cannabis plant is marijuana, which contains varying levels of THC, the compound that produces the “high” that is often associated with marijuana. Another type of cannabis plant is hemp. Hemp plants contain extremely low amounts of THC. CBD, which does not produce a “high,” can be derived from either marijuana or hemp.

We are now seeing CBD-containing products everywhere. CBD can be found in many different products, like drugs, foods, products marketed as dietary supplements, and cosmetics. These products often make questionable health promises about CBD.

FDA wants you to know there may be serious risks to using cannabis products, including those containing CBD, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What do we know about the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding?

There are many potential negative health effects from using marijuana and other products containing THC during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General recently advised consumers that marijuana use during pregnancy may affect fetal brain development, because THC can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream. The Surgeon General also advised that marijuana may increase the risk of a newborn with low birth weight. Research also suggests increased risk for premature birth and potentially stillbirth 1 .

While breastfeeding, it is important to know that breastmilk can contain THC for up to six days after use. This THC may affect a newborn’s brain development and result in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and other long-term consequences.

Additionally, marijuana smoke contains many of the same harmful components as tobacco smoke. Neither marijuana nor tobacco products should be smoked around a baby or children.

What do we know about the effects of CBD use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding?

There is no comprehensive research studying the effects of CBD on the developing fetus, pregnant mother, or breastfed baby. FDA is continuing to collect and study the data on the possible harmful effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. However, based on what we do know, there is significant cause for concern.

High doses of CBD in pregnant test animals have caused problems with the reproductive system of developing male fetuses 2 . In addition, based on what we already know about CBD, we expect that some amount of CBD will be transferred to babies through breast milk.

We also know that there is a potential for CBD products to be contaminated with substances that may pose a risk to the fetus or breastfed baby, including THC. We have also heard reports of CBD potentially containing other contaminants (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus); we are investigating this.

Moreover, CBD has known risks for people in general. Based on clinical studies in humans, risks can include the following:

  • liver toxicity (damage)
  • extreme sleepiness
  • harmful interactions with other drugs

FDA is studying the effects of CBD use from different angles, such as: (1) the use of CBD-containing products, like food, cosmetics, or supplements, over a person’s entire life; and (2) the effects of using these various products in combination. There are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD.

We especially want to learn more about the effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, including, for example, whether and to what extent the presence of CBD in human milk harms the breastfed baby or the mother’s milk production.

Has FDA approved any CBD products and are there any benefits?

FDA has not approved any CBD products except for one prescription drug to treat rare, severe forms of seizure disorders in children. It is still unclear whether CBD has any other benefits.

Other than the one approved prescription drug, CBD products have not been evaluated or approved by FDA for use as drug products. This means that we do not know:

  • if they are safe and effective to treat a particular disease
  • what, if any, dosage may be considered safe
  • how they could interact with other drugs or foods
  • whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns

The clinical studies that supported the approval of the one available CBD drug product identified risks related to the use of CBD, including liver toxicity (damage), extreme sleepiness, and harmful interactions with other drugs.

What about hemp seeds?

FDA recently completed an evaluation of some hemp seed-derived food ingredients and had no objections to the use of these ingredients in foods. THC and CBD are found mainly in hemp flowers, leaves, and stems, not in hemp seeds. Hemp seeds can pick up miniscule amounts of THC and CBD from contact with other plant parts, but these amounts are low enough to not raise concerns for any group, including pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

What should you remember about using cannabis or cannabis-derived products?

If you are considering using cannabis, or any products containing THC or CBD, you should be aware of the following:

  • FDA strongly advises that during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, you avoid using CBD, THC, or marijuana in any form.
  • Although many of these products are being sold, FDA has not approved these products, other than one prescription CBD drug product and two prescription drug products containing dronabinol, a synthetic version of THC (which are approved to treat certain side effects of HIV-AIDS or chemotherapy). All three of these prescription products have associated risks and side effects.
  • Always talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before taking any medicines, vitamins, or herbs while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do not put yourself or your baby at risk by using cannabis products while pregnant or breastfeeding. Check out these links to learn more about cannabis, marijuana, CBD, and THC, and about taking medicines while you are pregnant.

FDA strongly advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and marijuana in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Vegan Pregnancy Diet: Top 8 Foods That Are Good For You And Your Baby

Create a vegan pregnancy shopping list of foods that are delicious and healthy for you and the baby! You can start with the foods on this list.

Keep Up with Your Plant-Based Diet Before Childbirth with These Vegan Pregnancy Essentials

Creating Vegan Pregnancy Meal Ideas Is Challenging

Plant-based vegan pregnancy benefits are aplenty, but why is it so hard for many pregnant women to maintain a vegan lifestyle?

There are lists, and then there are pregnancy lists. From the baby names to the must-have gear, someone’s made a list.

Food is no exception except—well, it is if you’re vegan. Despite the growing number of vegans in America, most of the pregnancy nutrition recommendations leave out this group.

Lists of top foods to include read like a vegan’s nightmare: milk, eggs, meat, and fish. Vegans and vegetarians have been successfully breeding for ages (take India for example), proving you don’t need animal products for a healthy pregnancy or a healthy baby.

Excellent Additions to a Vegan Diet During Pregnancy

Happy pregnant woman with her child | Vegan Pregnancy Diet: Top 8 Foods That Are Good For You And Your Baby | vegan diet during pregnancy

So what foods should vegans eat during pregnancy? Here are the top eight:

1. Hemp Seeds

Hemp is a complete protein that is high in fiber, and healthy fats—it’s the perfect food for pregnant women (and everyone else). Hemp protein is easily digestible by the body (more so than meat).

There’s a lot of nutrients in this tiny seed. Just 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 10 grams of protein. Hemp also has a lot of calcium, magnesium, and folate. All of which are essential building blocks of a healthy body.

For a vegan needing to meet 60 to 70 grams of protein a day, adding hemp seeds can be a huge help.

Make your own chia pudding, mix them into non-dairy yogurt, cereal, or smoothies. Add them to every salad, sandwich, or even atop pasta, soups, stir-fries.

The mighty hemp seed is also loaded with fiber to help keep things moving along in the digestive tract, and they’re an excellent source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are very beneficial for baby and mommy, making hemp a must-add to your vegan food list.

2. Kale

Dark green leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses filled with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. They are rich in chlorophyll, which alkalinizes and restores the blood, and fiber, which keeps the colon healthy. Dark leafy greens contain vital amounts of nutrients for mom and baby. Loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, kale is also a rich source of calcium. Kale is very high in nutrients and very low in calories, making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.

It’s full of antioxidants to boost mommy’s immune function, and all that fiber is crucial for proper digestion and elimination. Constipation is a common occurrence in pregnancy so kale can be a big help.

3. Beans

Beans | Vegan Pregnancy Diet: Top 8 Foods That Are Good For You And Your Baby | diet during pregnancy

Whatever bean you fancy, you’re getting protein, fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals. They cook up quick after soaking overnight and can go in just about anything.

Try white beans with kale and brown rice pasta, pinto bean tacos, black bean soup, or kidney bean salad. And don’t forget about those healthy legumes too.

Split peas and lentils need no soaking and are just as versatile (and nutritious!) as beans.

4. Avocados

Did you know an avocado contains about 3 grams of protein? We often think of it as a creamy, fatty food, but avo is loaded with good-for-you amino acids and protein.

When counting grams of protein, every bit helps! But, the avocado also offers you healthy unsaturated fats, which keep you feeling energized.

It also helps make the skin look more radiant, too (but you can tell everyone it’s your pregnancy glow).

5. Whole Grains

Whole grains are full of fiber, vitamins, protein, and antioxidants, which helps in lowering the risk of having gestational diabetes. White flour is a no-no.

What is gestational diabetes? It is an abnormal increase in blood sugar (glucose) during pregnancy.

Whole-grain bread and whole grains with your beans, kale, hemp, and avocados can help keep you regular, energized, focused, and healthy.

6. Coconut Oil

Not only is this a healthy fat to cook with, but it’s loaded with lauric acid, an important essential fatty acid not found in many other foods.

Lauric acid can help keep the immune system functioning properly. For pregnant moms prone to fungal outbreaks like candida, coconut oil can aid in preventing this from occurring.

Coconut oil is also an excellent external product for moms. Use it on the belly and breasts to keep stretch marks from occurring.

7. Berries

Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat. They’re delicious, nutritious, and provide a number of impressive health benefits. They are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, high in fiber and can help regulate blood sugar. There are many ways to enjoy berries. They can be eaten alone, or put into smoothies or added to salads. When possible, try to eat them organic and in season.

8. Nuts

There is no greater on-the-go snack for a pregnant woman than nuts. They’re easy and portable and offer all those important needs: protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

Stick with raw or dry-roasted nuts. Almonds, walnuts, and cashews are excellent choices.

They can be incorporated at mealtimes too or add nuts to your salad. Making a walnut pesto is also a good idea.

You can add them to cereal or make a nut-butter whole grain bread sandwich if you prefer.

Essential Nutrients Vegan Pregnant Women Need

Nutrition and dietetics are even more important during pregnancy. For one, you’re eating for two people, who can have dissimilar needs of vitamins and minerals.

Second, what you eat can impact your baby’s health even long after they’re born. The question is, what prenatal vitamins do you need, and how do you get them when you’re on a vegan pregnancy diet?

Here are the essential vitamins and minerals for pregnant women on a vegan diet:

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA are essential since they help in the neural or brain growth of babies. They are also necessary for having proper eyesight, especially in the development of retinas.

The retinas are responsible for converting the light signals the eyes receive into electrical signals the brain can then interpret.

The body doesn’t produce these omega-3 fatty acids. Instead, it converts alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) into DHA and EPA.

Fortunately, one of the best sources of omega-3 that’s great for vegans is algae. You may also add some chia seeds or flaxseed oil to your salads and other vegan recipes as well as supplement your diet with Sunwarrior Omega-3 with Vegan DHA and EPA.

2. Iodine

Just like you, your baby also needs thyroid hormones for a variety of functions. Many of which are brain-related.

One of the essential nutrients for a healthy thyroid is iodine, which the thyroid glands use to produce the hormones.

Women on a vegan pregnancy meal plan can derive iodine from a variety of sources, including seaweeds. Others are green leafy vegetables such as kale, green beans, and vegan pregnancy supplements like Ormus Super Greens.

3. Folate

When it comes to pregnancy and lactation nutrition, folic acid and folate are the ultimate superheroes. They are vital in the growth and development of your baby’s nervous system, such as the spinal cord and the brain.

Note: Folic acid and folate are different. Folate or vitamin B9 is naturally occurring and present in many types of food such as dark greens, while folic acid is man-made.

4. Zinc

Dark chocolate stack | Vegan Pregnancy Diet: Top 8 Foods That Are Good For You And Your Baby | vegetarian and vegan diets

Zinc is one of the minerals that can help reduce the risk of pre-term births. This is because it can strengthen the mother’s immune system, keeping serious and life-threatening infections at bay.

This trace mineral also plays a role in the proper cellular division and growth, which is rapid during pregnancy.

What is a trace mineral? These are the minerals your body needs in small amounts.

Those on a vegan pregnancy diet might need 12 milligrams of zinc every day. Some of the excellent sources include greens, dark chocolates, nut butter, legumes and seeds, and orange juice fortified with zinc.

5. Vitamin D

Moms also need vitamin D to help in the absorption of calcium, which strengthens the bones. It can also reduce the risks of neural tube defects, boost immunity, and promote healthy cellular division.

One of the best sources for this vitamin is the sun, but when you’re pregnant, you may need more. Besides, you may have days when you’re too exhausted to even go out.

With your doctor’s approval, you can complement sunlight exposure and diet with a vitamin D supplement like Raw Vitamins.

6. Iron

When you’re pregnant, you need more red blood cells to help supply oxygen to you and the baby through the placenta. Otherwise, you become prone to a health condition known as anemia.

Anemia can then lead to lethargy, malaise, or fatigue. It may also increase the likelihood of pre-term birth and fetal hypoxia, which means the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen supply.

Iron comes in two forms: heme iron and non-heme iron. Only animal proteins, especially meat, have heme iron.

Since you’re following vegan pregnancy meal plan, your sources of iron are non-heme such as dark green leafy vegetables.

The problem is, the body doesn’t absorb non-heme iron easily. You may then need to match what you eat with iron supplements.

Note: Too much iron can also be bad as it may lead to an overload or toxicity. Work closely with your doctor to monitor your iron intake and level.

7. Calcium

Babies need calcium to help them develop and grow stronger bones, muscles, and teeth. It also provides blood-clotting abilities.

Mothers, meanwhile, should take calcium to strengthen their bones and muscles. After all, they need to carry a human being for months.

Soy products are excellent vegan sources for calcium. These can include tofu, miso, and edamame.

You may also derive calcium from non-dairy products such as yogurts, nut milks, and plantmilks.

Tips on Vegan Diet During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman sitting at table with fruits salad | Vegan Pregnancy Diet: Top 8 Foods That Are Good For You And Your Baby | pregnancy and lactation

To further ensure your diet keeps you and your baby healthy, here are a few more tips to live by:

1. Keep track of your weight gain. Just because you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet doesn’t mean you won’t add more pounds than necessary.

2. Get inspiration from different sources. A vegan society may offer cooking demos, while websites such as Pinterest may give you vegan recipes to try.

3. Go easy on the fruit. Fruits, including dried fruit (as long as it doesn’t have artificial sugar), are healthy, but they can also increase your risk of gestational diabetes.

4. Follow dietary recommendations. Know your nutrient levels, listen to the guidelines and instructions from your doctors, and supplement when necessary (with your doctor’s approval, of course).

Watch Jason Wrobel as he talks about the pitfalls of a vegan diet in this video from Sunwarrior:

As you can see, maintaining a vegan pregnancy diet doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact, it can be fun and an amazing nutritional option for you and your baby.

What are your favorite vegan recipes for pregnancy? Share your list in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 11, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Sunwarrior

Our mission is to nourish & transform the planet, one individual at a time, by providing the highest quality, clean, affordable, plant-based nutrition, education, and science-backed bio-technologies.

Disclaimer

Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research.. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

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Create a vegan pregnancy shopping list of foods that are delicious and healthy for you and the baby! You can start with the foods on this list.