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Is It Safe To Use CBD While Breastfeeding

Written by Robert Hammell

CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. That being said, just because it doesn’t make its users high does not mean that it is free of side effects. CBD has been shown to be effective as an anti-inflammatory, in dealing with nausea, and for helping to cope with anxiety.[1][2][3] For new mothers, this may seem like a natural way of dealing with postpartum depression and many of the physical discomforts following childbirth. But is it safe for a breastfeeding mother to take CBD?


Breastfeeding and The Child’s Health

During pregnancy, the embryo gets everything it needs from the mother through the placenta. While that changes slightly after the baby is born, mom and baby are still linked, especially through breastfeeding. So whatever the mother consumes does have an effect on the baby. Many aspects of the mother’s biology can be passed to the infant through the milk they consume. This can help to prevent the spread of diseases or infections by passing on antibodies, but this may serve as a double-edged sword.[4] In the same way that beneficial materials can pass from mother to baby through breastmilk, so can toxins as well.[5] If a mother has been drinking or consuming drugs, these can be fed to the baby through the milk they drink. That being the case, how big of a risk does CBD pose?


CBD Risks for Breastfeeding Children

Both the CDC and the FDA discourage CBD use for breastfeeding mothers because of the potential consequences it may have on the baby.[6][7] While there are no studies that have been conducted into the effects of cannabinoids on pregnant or breastfeeding mothers and newborns, there is one that was conducted on animals. The University of Texas found a link to cannabinoids and the male reproductive system.[8] Male offspring of mothers who had been given cannabinoids saw a 20% reduction in sperm. Additionally, CBD has been shown to have multiple neurological effects.[9] For adults, these reactions are minor and often beneficial, but for an underdeveloped brain the repercussions may be unpredictable or disastrous. Finally, unlike other substances like alcohol where the mother could pump and dump her milk to ensure the safety of her baby, the same is not true of CBD. Cannabinoids bond to fat cells in the body, and they can stay in your system for anywhere between 10 and 28 days.[10] Because of this, it is not possible for a mother to ensure her breastmilk is free of CBD unless she avoids it altogether.  More on CBD And Pregnancy.


Reference List

  1. Atalay, Sinemyiz, Iwona Jarocka-Karpowicz, and Elzbieta Skrzydlewska. “Antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol.” Antioxidants 9.1 (2020): 21.

  2. Parker, Linda A., Erin M. Rock, and Cheryl L. Limebeer. “Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids.” British journal of pharmacology 163.7 (2011): 1411-1422.

  3. Crippa, José Alexandre S., et al. “Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report.” Journal of psychopharmacology 25.1 (2011): 121-130.

  4. Hanson, Lars Å., and Marina Korotkova. “The role of breastfeeding in prevention of neonatal infection.” Seminars in neonatology. Vol. 7. No. 4. WB Saunders, 2002.

  5. Chin NP. Environmental toxins: physical, social, and emotional. Breastfeed Med. 2010 Oct;5(5):223-4. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2010.0050. PMID: 20942704; PMCID: PMC2966478.

  6. Marijuana and Breastfeeding. (2022, January 31). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  7. Office of the Commissioner. (2019b, October 16). What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding. U.S. Food And Drug Administration.

  8. Dalterio SL, deRooij DG. Maternal cannabinoid exposure. Effects on spermatogenesis in male offspring. Int J Androl. 1986 Aug;9(4):250-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.1986.tb00888.x. PMID: 3026968.

  9. Mannucci, Carmen, et al. “Neurological aspects of medical use of cannabidiol.” CNS & Neurological Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-CNS & Neurological Disorders) 16.5 (2017): 541-553.

  10. Santos-Longhurst, A. (2022, June 20). How Long Does CBD Stay in Your System? Healthline.

About the author

Robert Hammell