CBD and Breastfeeding: Is it safe?
By Dr. Rachel Knox
“Can I take CBD while I am breastfeeding?” This is one of the most common questions we receive, so we thought it would be the perfect way to kick off our new series: “Ask the Doctor” with Dr. Rachel Knox, MD.
CBD for Postpartum Support
Many moms are seeking natural relief from common postpartum symptoms, such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, or pain. CBD could seem like an obvious choice to some, but could this natural solution be posing potential harm to their breastfed babies?
There is no satisfying answer. While it’s understood that cannabinoids such as CBD are expressed in the breastmilk of moms who consume it, whether or not CBD is actually safe for nursing babies has yet to be determined. Research simply has not provided conclusive evidence to demonstrate CBD’s harm, safety, or benefit. Few retrospective studies that focus on maternal cannabis use have suggested a negative impact on child development and behavior. Other studies suggest no impact at all.
At the end of the day, the most holistic and honest answer is that “we just don’t know.”
So, what’s a mom to do?
This doesn’t mean that women should avoid using CBD while breastfeeding. If you are a new mom who is exploring the use of CBD to manage postpartum symptoms, then the most important thing to ask is ‘how are you consuming CBD while breastfeeding, and for what purpose?’
Despite the many unknowns, there are practical ways for moms to use CBD. Here are some suggestions on how to optimize cannabidiol’s natural benefits, while minimizing any unintentional risk to the baby.
Is topical CBD a safer choice?
CBD personal care products come in a variety of forms: topicals, transdermals, edibles, tinctures, vape pens, inhalers, and more. CBD that is consumed internally, through inhaling or ingestion, will find its way into breastmilk. It’s difficult to know how much CBD will find its way into breastmilk or for how long it will be expressed, but it’s likely dose-dependent.
For those wanting to avoid this risk entirely, topicals and transdermals are the better choices. Transdermal products like patches can carry CBD into the bloodstream, but to a lesser degree than ingestible or inhalant products. If pain is the issue you are seeking to address, then these solutions can provide optimal benefit while significantly minimizing any risk to your baby.
For mental health concerns like stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, or pain unresponsive to topical use, inhaled or ingested CBD might be preferred. Moms should carefully weigh the benefits and risks of using CBD vs. pharmaceuticals before starting an ingestible regimen. The use of any medicinal substance while breastfeeding should be discussed with a trusted medical professional.
Ultimately, the choice is mom’s. As is the case for initiating any CBD personal care product, moms should start low and increase slowly to the desired effect. This allows for proper monitoring both themselves and their babies very closely for unintentional effects.