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CBD Oil and Breastfeeding: Is It Safe? What Research Says So Far

Janet Miller

Janet Miller

Last updated: December 13, 2019

Shutterstock / Demkat

CBD oil has gained attention in recent times as a way to treat several conditions. These range from chronic pain, inflammation, reducing anxiety to improving the quality of sleep. However, when it comes to CBD and pregnancy or breastfeeding, we need to pay a lot closer attention to its effects and impact.

Breastfeeding mothers need to be careful about what they eat to ensure adequate nutrition for their infant. They also have to avoid certain medicines to prevent them from being passed onto their babies with breast milk.

In such a situation, does taking it when breastfeeding poses any risk? Breastfeeding mothers widely use CBD. However, there is a lack of evidence on how it effects on breast milk.

Why Would New Mothers Need CBD Oil?

A woman’s body goes through a lot of physical and hormonal changes during and after pregnancy. As a result, new mothers may face issues such as postpartum depression, pain, anxiety, and sleeping difficulties after giving birth. Studies have shown CBD reduces and helps manage anxiety and depression. It has also been shown to play a significant role in regulating pain, which could also be a reason why new mothers may be tempted to consider using CBD oil.

Benefits of Using CBD While Breastfeeding

Shutterstock / ThanasStudio

While a lot more research is needed to be done to understand the safety of CBD and pregnancy and during breastfeeding, it is not hard to see why it may come across, at first, as a useful solution to several issues faced by new mothers. Here are some of the issues that CBD oil has been known to be effective in treating:

CBD and Sleeping Issues

Research done on the sleeping patterns of new mothers shows that they face sleep disruption and difficulty falling asleep in the first few months after giving birth. This is because they have to wake up at regular intervals throughout the night to breastfeed the baby. Another study has shown that using CBD has a calming effect on the body’s central nervous system. This, in turn, helps improve the quality of sleep and reduce sleep disturbances in those who suffer from disrupted or lack of sleep. Hence, new mothers may find it an appealing prospect to use it for their sleep-related issues.

CBD and Depression

Postpartum depression is a severe mood disorder where the mother experiences irritability, guilt, crying spells, extreme sadness, anxiety, and detachment from her child. The symptoms usually develop a few weeks after childbirth but may even last for up to a year after giving birth.

In a study conducted in 2014 on rats, the use of cannabis was reported to have an anti-depressant effect on the user. It does this by increasing the availability of anandamide, a neurotransmitter is known as the ‘bliss molecule.’ This neurotransmitter is responsible for evoking feelings of contentment, relaxation, and an overall ‘feel-good’ response.

CBD and Anxiety

The birth of a child is a significant life event that comes with a lot of changes for the mother. These sudden changes can give rise to anxiety in many new mothers. A study done in 2014 on over 4000 new mothers showed that about 18% of women reported symptoms related to anxiety. Since the positive impact of CBD use on reducing anxiety has been published in studies, it may appear to be an attractive way to manage stress amongst new mothers.

Medical Evidence Regarding CBD and Breastfeeding

While there has been some research to study the impact on marijuana use on breastfeeding mothers, there has been no comprehensive study so far to check the effect of CBD and breastfeeding. In the absence of sufficient information to demonstrate the safety of it when pregnant, medical authorities such as the US Surgeon General and the FDA caution against the use of it when breastfeeding.

However, in 2018, researchers from the University of California San Diego conducted a study on using marijuana by breastfeeding women and cannabinoid concentrations in breast milk. But CBD was not the subject of this study, and the research is still limited in scope. Hence, there is strong evidence about the safety of using CBD during breastfeeding.

While the lack of research does not, in itself, mean that the use of it when pregnant or breastfeeding could be harmful, most doctors advise erring on the side of caution in such cases by avoiding CBD use.

Is CBD Oil Safe to Use While Breastfeeding?

There is a lack of detailed research on the effect of CBD oil and breastfeeding, which makes this question a difficult one to answer. So far, most of the research has been done on marijuana use and the effects of THC on breast milk, and not on the hemp plant, from which cannabidiol is derived. Due to the lack of conclusive evidence, medical authorities advise looking for alternative solutions whose safety has been demonstrated in studies.

What Is the Impact of CBD on Milk?

Unfortunately, there is no conclusive study so far that shows the effect of CBD oil and breastfeeding. However, THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis that causes the user to feel ‘high’ has been detected in breast milk after cannabis use. In fact, THC has been identified from 6 days to up to 6 weeks after cannabis use. Regular cannabis use by pregnant or breastfeeding mothers has been linked to several birth disorders in the newborn child. These disorders range from low birth-weight to the retarded motor and intellectual development.

Since most CBD oil and products are not regulated, even the so-called THC-free products may run the risk of containing THC and other impurities, which could put a nursing mother’s baby at risk of developing disorders of the brain and the body. That is why using it when pregnant or while nursing may be tricky.


Does CBD Oil Pass-Through Milk?

Due to the lack of research on CBD oil and pregnancy, we do not have a clear answer on whether it passes through milk, and to what extent. As far as cannabis use is concerned, THC is the psychoactive component that has been shown to pass through to breast milk. THC has been reported to cause several development issues in the newborn child – from low birth rate to a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Since most CBD products are not checked and regulated by the FDA, there are chances that even a pure CBD product may contain traces of THC and other toxic compounds and impurities. This lack of consistency makes it difficult to know whether the product is pure CBD oil and pregnancy-safe.

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Breastfeed After Taking CBD?

While no studies have been done to see whether and for how long does CBD stay in breast milk, similar research has been done on the THC levels in the breast milk of women who regularly smoked pot (marijuana).

A study showed that THC could be detected in the breast milk for up to 6 days after the mother used cannabis. Even though this study was done on marijuana and THC and not on CBD and pregnancy, this result is enough indication for some doctors to worry about the impact of any cannabinoid on a baby’s development.

Final Thoughts About CBD Oil and Breastfeeding

The birth of a child can bring challenges for the mother. Postpartum depression, chronic pain, and sleeping difficulties are some of the issues that new mothers may face. The positive effect of CBD use has been studied in cases of anxiety, managing pain, improving sleep quality. However, research is yet to be done to clearly understand whether CBD oil and breastfeeding is safe or not.

Studies done on mothers who use marijuana has shown that THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, is passed onto breast milk. THC has been linked to some development and physical disorders in the baby – from low birth weight, slow brain development, and more. While this research does not say anything directly about the effect of CBD oil and breastfeeding, it is enough for medical authorities like the US Surgeon General to advise against CBD oil use while nursing.

Have you ever used CBD oil when breastfeeding? Have you been satisfied with the effects? Do not hesitate to share your experience with us in the comments section below.


Janet Miller

Janet Miller

Janet is a medical specialist with 10 years of experience as a physician and writing passion. She aims to help people and expand humans mindset. Chat with Janet on Twitter @Janet_Miller_MD or via our contact page.


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