Have you considered whether it is okay to smoke while pregnant? You may be wondering whether you can smoke at all while you’re pregnant, or when you have to stop. You’ve heard about friends who sneak a glass of wine, so why not a joint?
Some people continue to smoke throughout pregnancy, but how can this be healthy for their unborn child? This article seeks to explain the intrauterine effects of smoking while pregnant and when (and if) you have to give it up completely.
Despite What You’ve Heard, Cannabis isn’t Healthy During Pregnancy
Mayo Clinic asks the question, “Can quitting smoking during pregnancy reduce a baby’s health risks?” Absolutely. If you frequently smoke, vape, or eat cannabis, quitting is the best way to give your baby a healthy start. Mayo Clinic advises that “quitting before week 15 of pregnancy provides the greatest benefits for your baby, and quitting before your third trimester can eliminate much of the potential impact on your baby’s birth weight.”
While some chronic consumers might dabble as a way to mitigate morning sickness or continue with the treatment for chronic pain, there is not enough research out there about the impact of cannabis on the fetus. With so many unknowns, it is a considerable risk to you and your baby’s health to continue with cannabis consumption.
Doctors recommend giving up all intoxicates, including alcohol and tobacco. Cannabis is an intoxicating substance and one which influences bodily function. Therefore, it is another one to add to the no-go list. Because it’s a medicinal plant, it might feel healthy – but the experts still consider it dangerous.
Why is Cannabis Dangerous During Pregnancy?
Marie Clare McCormick, a professor of maternal and child health at Harvard and chair of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee, spoke with Vox about the risks to the mother and unborn child.
She explained, “that smoking any substance increases carbon monoxide in the blood, which reduces blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity, so not as much gets to the baby.” Vox also reported that “the marijuana birth weight findings were consistent with the effects of cigarette smoking on fetuses.”
It would appear that when you smoke, the blood carries less oxygen, which could lead to your unborn receiving less. If you do this too often enough, it might cause serious developmental problems.
Furthermore, using cannabis while pregnant can, unfortunately, lead to problems further down the line as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Some research shows marijuana use during pregnancy may make it hard for your child to pay attention or to learn; these issues may only become noticeable as your child grows older.”
Cannabis May Increase Preterm Births
As soon as you see a positive pregnancy test, begin reducing your daily dose of cannabis as quickly as possible. Recreationally, there is no logical reason to continue for the duration of your terms. Are you using cannabis medically? Speak with your physician, but likely they will recommend total cessation. There are too many unknowns to continue treatment with medical cannabis safely.
As Raina Delisle details for Today’s Parent:
“There are more than 400 active chemicals in cannabis, some of which [can] cross the placenta and enter the baby’s brain and tissue. Most research has focused on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of marijuana, and cannabidiol (CBD), the primary non-psychoactive component. After a pregnant woman uses [consumes] weed, the amount of THC in her baby’s blood is about a third to a tenth of the level in her own blood. And CBD has been found to increase the placenta’s permeability, allowing for THC and other foreign substances to pass into the baby’s blood more easily.”
USAToday interviewed several medical experts who confirm that cannabinoids not alone have a physiological impact on the mother, but also the baby. According to the article, as legalization has increased, there has also been “a sharp increase in the number of pregnant women smoking marijuana and an alarming link between cannabis use and preterm births, defined as 37 weeks or earlier.” Cannabis use during pregnancy may cause premature births.
One of the study’s, based in Canada, details how “Women reporting cannabis dependence or abuse were more likely to have a preterm premature rupture of membranes..and an intrauterine fetal demise…and growth restriction…”
Too Much Risk, Cannabis Use Dangerous During Pregnancy
Hearing that, it would appear quite apparent that smoking during pregnancy puts your child at serious risk, including premature births, underweight births, and maybe even accidental death. These risks are real, and not to be taken lightly for newly pregnant women weighing the pros and cons of cannabis use during pregnancy.
The moment you find out you are pregnant, you should completely cease smoking and consuming cannabis in all forms. At the very least, stop until you speak with your physician. Even if you are currently pregnant and still consuming cannabis, you can still lower the risk by quitting now.
Healthlink BC says, “If you quit smoking before you become pregnant (or during the first 3 months of your pregnancy), your risk of having a baby with low birth weight is the same as that of a woman who does not smoke. Women who quit later in their pregnancy still reduce the risk of problems for their babies.” 
While on the surface, it might feel fine to keep smoking, and sometimes even feel better, your body absorbs chemicals may impact their development. While this is a topic of hot debate among cannabis-loving pregnant mothers, the only way to remove the risk is to stop smoking until the baby is born.