It seems as though you can’t turn your head anymore without someone mentioning the myriad benefits of smoking pot or using its tamer cousin CBD oil. Purported to do everything from easing the symptoms of anxiety to all but eliminating the aches and pains of everyday life, people who regularly use CBD oil absolutely swear by its benefits. It’s not difficult to imagine people would want to use it for postpartum depression, anxiety, or even the creaky joints that seem to pop up out of nowhere postpartum. But can you use CBD oil while breastfeeding, or would you have to wean your baby to enjoy the rewards?
CBD oil, short for cannabidiol, is derived from the cannabis plant, or marijuana plant. According to the Journal of Bone And Mineral Research, CBD oil is a non-psychoactive oil that is extracted from the cannabis plant, and is composed of no more than 3 percent THC — the active ingredient in marijuana that gives you the sensation of being “high.” While it’s recently been approved in the form of the drug Epidiolex, a remarkable treatment for epilepsy, it has not been studied in the use of pregnant or lactating women, and even the most pro-CBD groupsdon’t advocate for its use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
I have a ton of friends who swear by the stuff. In fact, I’m even going to give it a go after reading the peer reviewed literature about how the compound works, and the ways it can help heal the body. While we are a very long way from seeing it used in many mass marketed drugs, the research is promising. As someone who lives with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as severe attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, I am willing to try more than just what’s currently popular to treat my mental illness. I absolutely understand why you’d want to take something that could help when you’re postpartum, having suffered extreme postpartum anxiety myself.
But is CBD safe for breastfeeding? Honestly, there isn’t enough research available to determine one way or another if it is safe or not. I have no doubt that this research is being completed or compiled as I type this, but there isn’t anything published yet that doctors or lactation consultants could look to and say “go ahead,” or “stay away” with any real conviction. What we do know is that THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, is dangerous for pregnant and nursing women, according to Breastfeeding Medicine. Even though CBD oil is mostly free of THC, it still contains some, so it’s best to steer clear until the research pans out.
There’s a lot of promising research around CBD oil, and it might be something worth looking into if you’re willing to forego breastfeeding for a time. Breastfeeding should not come at the cost of your mental health. Ever. I experienced such shame when I stopped nursing my daughter so that I could resume my pharmaceutical regimen. I was at a point where I desperately needed to reconnect with myself, and for me that meant taking my Adderall, my Wellbutrin, and my Ambien. Yet I ended up warring with myself over that decision because I felt like I was failing my daughter because I couldn’t feed her as long as I did my son. That was utter hogwash.
You have to do what you have to do to be well enough to take care of your child in the way you need to. CBD oil might not yet be considered safe for breastfeeding, but if you talk to your therapist, and you agree it might help, then it might be time to reassess your priorities.