We are a few months away from legalizing marijuana in Canada. It’s hard to believe that come summer 2018 Canadians will be able to legally buy weed! Trudeau’s bill C-45 will legalize marijuana consumption and in our province, la société québécoise du cannabis (SQC) will regulate its sales. So here is what you should know about breastfeeding and consuming marijuana.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana, weed and pot are all names used to refer to the plant Cannabis. The active chemical that affects the brain is known as delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH). It has been used throughout history for its medicinal properties and for religious purposes (namely in India). Weed can be smoked, used in teas and even baked in brownies. It comes in various forms such as powder, oil and wax.
Can I breastfeed and smoke weed?
No! And here is why you shouldn’t;
- TCH transfers and concentrates in breastmilk and can be absorbed by baby (Astley et al., 1990).
- As per Health Canada’s website “the toxins in cannabis are carried through the mother’s blood to her fetus during pregnancy and in the breastmilk following birth.”
- The toxins present in cannabis can be found in the infant’s urine analysis up to 3 weeks after exposure (Perez-Reyes and Wall, 1982).
- TCH is stored in body fat and can last up to several weeks in the body (Mannel et al., 2013).
- When the breastmilk of a heavy user was analyzed, the study concluded that breastmilk was eight times more concentrated than mother’s plasma levels. (Mannel et al., 2013).
- A study of 68 infants exposed to marijuana revealed motor and development delays (Astley et al., 1990).
Do I need to “pump and dump” my milk if I smoked marijuana once?
No. As per leading Canadian expert in breastfeeding, Dr. Jack Newman says there is no need to pump and waste breastmilk after lighting up that occasional joint. Dr. Jack Newman says there is no need to formula feed either. There is no evidence that breastmilk is dangerous with small concentrations of TCH (Newman, 2006). It’s a whole different story if you’re a chronic daily user! Prolonged exposure to TCH can accumulate in baby’s body and its long-term side effects are unknown (Bonyata, 2018).
Take away message
Do not smoke marijuana and breastfeed. It’s a bad idea! If you are going to smoke occasionally be mindful and cautious. As per Health Canada’s guidelines, second-hand smoke from marijuana can also increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Evidently, mind alternating substances can influence parent’s behaviour and judgment.
Feel free to leave a comment below and join the discussion!
Peace and love,
Nesha Joshi RN IBCLC
Edited by Rachel Morasse
Astley, S. J., & Little, R. E. (1990). Maternal marijuana use during lactation and infant development at one year. Neurotoxicology and teratology, 12(2), 161-168
Bonyata K (2018). Breastfeeding and Marijuana • KellyMom.com. (2018, January 13). Retrieved January 15, 2018, from https://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/lifestyle/marijuana/
Canada, H. (2017, June 19). Health effects of cannabis. Retrieved January 12, 2018, from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/substance-abuse/controlled-illegal-drugs/health-risks-of-marijuana-use.html
Mannel, R., Martens, P. J., & Walker, M. (2013). Core curriculum for lactation consultant practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. Page 465
Perez-Reyes M, Wall ME. Presence of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in human milk. N Engl J Med. 1982 Sep 23;307(13):819-20.