Like many topics surrounding CBD, there’s a lot we don’t know about CBD and breastfeeding.
As special as breastfeeding may be, it can also be overwhelming and exhausting – leaving nursing mothers in need of relief.
While CBD may seem like a saviour for parents struggling with the stresses of postpartum life, unfortunately, the medical community is clear: using CBD oil while breastfeeding is not safe.
- How does CBD affect breastmilk?
- Is it safe to use CBD while breastfeeding?
- How long after using CBD can you breastfeed?
In this guide:
The science behind CBD and breastfeeding
CBD is natural and incredibly rich in cannabinoids, and human breast milk is an abundant source of endocannabinoids.
So, some might assume that CBD and breastfeeding go hand in hand.
Sadly, that’s not the case.
We don’t know how CBD may affect a baby. Nor do we know whether exposing babies to CBD via breastmilk could have a long-term impact on a developing infant.
Here’s what we do know:
The limited amount of research we have doesn’t look particularly promising either.
Early research on mice suggests that CBD may be detrimental to a child’s development. Studies in pregnant mice found that CBD caused problems in the reproductive system of developing male fetuses.
A 2011 study found that cannabis exposure during pregnancy led to neurological and behavioural problems in children.
And another study from 2016 found that prenatal cannabis exposure led to adverse outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and placement in a neonatal intensive care unit.
And finally, a 2013 study found that CBD use during pregnancy could lead to changes in the physiological characteristics of the placenta. However, it’s worth noting that this was the only study of the three that looked purely at CBD exposure.
Other research on cannabinoids and breastfeeding focus more specifically on CBD and THC combined. And while CBD and cannabis are not the same, these studies still make medical professionals cautious about recommending CBD for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Let’s face it: it’s always best to err on the side of caution and be as safe as possible when it comes to children and babies.
And in the face of limited knowledge, we advise avoiding CBD oil while breastfeeding.
Is it safe to use CBD oil while breastfeeding?
Research around CBD oil and breastfeeding is limited, and the information we do have doesn’t paint a positive picture of using CBD while breastfeeding.
While most of the studies relevant to breastfeeding include THC – rather than isolating the effect of CBD – we cannot discount the possibility that our friend CBD might contribute to the negative impacts observed regarding cannabis use in pregnancy.
As such, it is impossible to declare CBD oil safe to use while breastfeeding.
But what about natural cannabinoids in breast milk?
Yes – there are cannabinoids in breast milk!
Endocannabinoids (cannabinoids found naturally in the human body) actually play a pivotal role in breastfeeding, helping to encourage suckling during neonatal development.
Understanding the role of cannabinoids in breast milk has led researchers to conclude that a lack of endocannabinoids could lead to a nonorganic failure-to-thrive disorder – defined as when a child displays poor growth without a known medical condition.
However, it’s important to remember the distinction between endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids (which are in breast milk) occur naturally in the body, while phytocannabinoids can be found in plants.
Phytocannabinoids may have some structural similarities, but they are not the same thing.
Therefore, while the role of endocannabinoids in breast milk may seem like a green light for CBD consumption during nursing, this isn’t a conclusion we can draw.
There’s no reason to believe that supplementing the mother with phytocannabinoids will help support the infant – and it may harm them.
Can you detect CBD in breast milk?
It’s actually very difficult to detect CBD in breast milk.
CBD is a fat-soluble compound, which means it is difficult to detect in breast milk, which is also full of fats.
This is one of the problems that researchers face when trying to study the safety of using CBD oil while breastfeeding.
How long is CBD active in breast milk?
“How long does CBD stay in breast milk? Could I “pump and dump”?”
Unfortunately, anyone hoping to be able to use the “pump and dump” method will also be disappointed. While this can work with alcohol, CBD could still be present in the body for days after the initial exposure.
CBD can stay in your system for two to five days, with some suggesting that it could remain detectable after five days. A high concentration dose of CBD oil could last for up to 15 days.
Read more: How long does CBD stay in your system?
Similar studies of THC found that it was still present in breast milk six days after exposure.
For this reason, it isn’t worth the risk of exposure. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should steer clear of all products containing CBD.
Is using CBD while breastfeeding harmful to babies?
Using CBD while breastfeeding may be harmful to babies.
But it isn’t only the CBD content that could be potentially hazardous.
There is also the risk of THC contamination – less reputable CBD brands may not disclose the actual THC content, which could be potentially dangerous.
There is also the risk of contamination by pesticides, heavy metals and microbes.
This can occur as the result of poor production procedures and poor hygiene produces during manufacturing.
We always recommend that those looking to consume CBD choose reputable suppliers and products with a certificate of analysis (COA).
However, in this circumstance, we recommend CBD be avoided altogether.
Alternative remedies to using CBD while breastfeeding
New mums need lots of extra support to stay healthy and happy after giving birth. While you shouldn’t use CBD while breastfeeding, there are other natural remedies that are safe to use when nursing.
The four most commonly used remedies for postpartum anxiety are
- Passiflora incarnate (Passionflower)
- Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha)
- Scutellaria (Skullcap), and
- Eleutherococcus (Eleuthero)
These may help to manage symptoms of anxiety while being safe in the knowledge you aren’t risking your child’s health.
Once you have stopped breastfeeding, it should be safe to continue using your favourite CBD products – provided the CBD does not interact with any medications you might be taking.
New mums may be more susceptible to certain side effects such as drowsiness. If you’re already sleep-deprived, taking CBD oil could make you feel more sleepy during the day.
If in doubt, always consult your pharmacist or GP before adding any supplements to your routine.
Final thoughts on CBD and breastfeeding
While it’s understandably tempting to reach for your CBD oil when nursing, the research doesn’t support any notions that CBD is safe to use while breastfeeding.
Studies are limited, and most focus on THC. But until more research considers the impact of CBD on babies and infants, we recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding people avoid CBD in all forms.