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What Breastfeeding Moms Should Know Before Smoking Pot

Many states have legalized marijuana and its use among pregnant women is making headlines. What happens when those pregnant women give birth and decide to breastfeed? Women who use marijuana (the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant) to alleviate pregnancy-induced nausea or the frequent vomiting associated with hyperemesis gravidarum – HG – may stop using it once their babies are born and symptoms subside. On the other hand, women who find it helps with anxiety or use it medicinally for pain relief find themselves in a tough spot.


At this time marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, in the same category as heroin. In Colorado, where marijuana is legal both medicinally and recreationally, a fact sheet for healthcare providers urges them to advise breastfeeding women to abstain from using marijuana based on recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

With little peer-reviewed research on the topic and plenty of stigma around it, many women are hesitant to discuss it with their healthcare providers. A Massachusetts mom I spoke with, who requested anonymity, says she used marijuana about once a month prior to becoming pregnant. Though she seldom smokes while breastfeeding, she would never tell her doctor about her marijuana use, explaining, “I think he would be judgmental about my choice.”

Lea Grover is one mom who speaks openly about marijuana. She calls it her “anti-anxiety drug of choice,” stating that she prefers it to Xanax because it lacks the side effects. Blogger Jeanna Hoch takes it a step further, admitting she uses cannabis daily and did so during her pregnancies and while breastfeeding. She proudly reports her older child suffered no apparent adverse effects; in fact, he was placed in the Highly Gifted and Talented program in first grade.

I interviewed Mary Lynn Mathre, RN, MSN, CARN, founding member and past president of the American Cannabis Nurses Association and president and co-founder of Patients Out of Time. According to Mathre,“it’s safe for breastfeeding moms to use cannabis under most circumstances, but especially if the mother has health problems and needs cannabis for symptom relief.” Mathre advises breastfeeding moms to choose a strain with a lower concentration of THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. THC concentration can vary widely.  ranging from less than 0.2% to over 20%.

According to Lauren Katz, a sales representative for a Colorado-based cannabis company, dispensaries are required by law to label each product’s THC content. She advises talking to your budtender to determine the right amount for you. Meanwhile, if marijuana is not legal in your state, it’s challenging to determine the concentration of THC. Additionally, there’s the risk that marijuana purchased illegally is laced with other illicit drugs.

Although the research on the effects of THC on infants is very limited, it is known that THC has a long half-life. It is stored in the mother’s fat tissues for weeks, or even months and the urine of infants exposed via breast milk may test positive for marijuana for up to three weeks.

Though limited, some data suggest that exposure to marijuana via breast milk poses no risks for babies. Tests performed on infants up to one-year-old in a 1990 study from Neurotoxicology and Teratology reported no adverse effects on the development of infants who were exposed to marijuana via breast milk at three months old.

A 1985 study published in the NIDA Research Monographs found no significant differences between the age at which infants weaned of mothers who used marijuana while breastfeeding versus those who didn’t. This suggests marijuana didn’t affect the mothers’ milk supply. Additionally, comparisons of measures on infants’ growth, cognitive, and motor skills revealed no differences between infants’ whose mothers reported daily marijuana use versus those who abstained.

A 2001 study in Archives on Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found no association between maternal marijuana use and SIDS.

In light of the scant research, the medical establishment advises women to abstain from marijuana while breastfeeding. Groups including La Leche League,  AAP,  and the  American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that no amount of marijuana exposure is safe for infants. While much remains unknown, we know that both secondhand smoke and a mother’s impaired ability to care for her baby while high, are contraindications for using marijuana while breastfeeding.

Some studies support recommendations that breastfeeding women abstain from using marijuana.

A 2013 review in Obstetric Gynecological Survey states that the current evidence suggests mild effects of heavy marijuana use by lactating mothers on their children’s development and that “these effects are not sufficient to warrant concerns above those associated with tobacco use.”

The same 1990 study that identified no adverse developmental outcomes for infants exposed to marijuana via breast milk at three months of age, found that infants exposed to marijuana via breast milk in their first month of life demonstrated decreased motor development at 12 months.

According to a University of California San Diego Medical Center paper, marijuana increases carboxyhemoglobin levels, limiting the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity.


While the risks of marijuana exposure to babies via breast milk are not totally clear, breast milk is known to be beneficial for babies. This is why some healthcare providers discourage women from using marijuana while breastfeeding but don’t necessarily tell women to stop breastfeeding if they can’t abstain.

A 2015 University of California San Diego Medical Center paper strongly recommends breastfeeding women not use marijuana or expose their babies to secondhand smoke. In that same paper, the authors acknowledge the protective effect of breast milk and recommend that if a mom doesn’t stop using marijuana, that she continue to breastfeed, and that she make sure someone else is available to take care of her baby while she’s intoxicated.

Similarly, a 2015 survey of lactation professionals found 44% of respondents made recommendations on breastfeeding and marijuana on a case-by-case basis, depending on the severity of use. Meanwhile, 41% reported recommending breastfeeding even if the mother continues to use marijuana, as the benefits outweigh the risks. Only 15% said they’d recommend a woman cease breastfeeding if she could not stop using marijuana.

To confuse matters further, guidelines published in Breastfeeding Medicine state, “abstaining from any marijuana use is warranted,” and also that,  “although the data are not strong enough to recommend not breastfeeding with any marijuana use, we urge caution.”

The only thing we know for sure is there is a dearth of evidence. But if the trend toward legalization continues, moms and health professionals may just start demanding answers.

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Ah, back to school time. The excitement of a new year for our kids and the impossibly busy schedule for their mamas. Anyone else get to the end of the day and think, "What did I even DOOO today, and why am I so exhausted?" 🙋

Luckily, finding a system to help you plan out your days can help reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life—which we are all for.

Here are eight planners we love that'll quickly take you from "What is happening?!" to "Look what I did!"

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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A new school year is looming and while a lot of parents are looking forward to seeing their kids take the next steps in their education, many of us are not looking forward to getting everyone back into a weekday morning routine.

Mornings can be tough for kids and their mamas. One of our favorite celebrity mamas, Kristen Bell, does not deny that mornings with her daughters, 5-year-old Lincoln and 3-year-old Delta, aren't easy at all.

"It's miserable," Bell recently told POPSUGAR. "It's awful no matter who's doing what. And I'll tell you right now, the 3- and 5-year-old aren't doing jack."

Anyone who has ever tried to wrangle a preschooler out of their pajamas, to the breakfast table, then into their school clothes and backpack at seven o'clock in the morning knows exactly what Bell is talking about. She says some days are better than others, but it's hard to know what level of kid-induced chaos you're gonna wake up to on a weekday.

"It depends on their emotional stability, it depends on their attitude toward each other, toward life," Bell told POPSUGAR. "It depends on their developmental stage."

Luckily, Bell has got some backup. She's been open about how she and her husband, Dax Shepard, practice a tag team approach to parenting, and sometimes, Bell gets a chance to tap out of the morning routine. Unfortunately, Shepherd's later schedule means it doesn't happen as often as she would necessarily like.

"I don't want to say that I do more mornings than he does, but if you were to check the records, that's probably what you'd find," she told POPSUGAR.

If, like Bell, you're really not feeling mornings with the kids, there are a few things you can try to make things a little easier on yourself, mama.

1. Change the conversation

Instead of saying "hurry up" or "get in the car, right now,"try to mix up your vocabulary a bit.

If there's a need for speed, remind the kids that it's time for "fast feet" or that you're racing to the car.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, you might consider sharing that with your kids. Let them know that mama's got a lot to do this morning and that it would be a huge help if they could make sure their water bottle is in their backpack.

2. Make breakfast ahead of time

If cereal isn't your jam or your kids need something hotter, and more substantial in the morning, cooking up breakfast can be a major hurdle on hectic mornings.

Check out these Pinterest perfect make-ahead morning meals, like breakfast enchiladas or egg muffins, and make mornings a bit easier on yourself, mama.

3. Bring some Montessori into your mornings

Help your kids take control of their AM destiny by bringing some limited choices (like clothing) into the morning routine and allowing for natural consequences (like having to settle for an apple in the van because they missed breakfast) but also allowing for fun with mom.

"Try doing something simple, with clear boundaries, such as reading two books before it's time to start the morning routine. If they're ready early, you can spend more time together, which is also a great natural incentive," writes Montessori expert Christina Clemer.

Here's to a less stressful AM routine for Kristen Bell and the rest of us mamas. Just because it feels miserable today doesn't mean it will be tomorrow. There is hope, Kristen!

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It was a year ago when I was pregnant, parenting a highly-spirited preschooler and also working a full-time job while trying to maintain a part-time side business when I got to the point of I have had enough.

I can't remember exactly what the trigger was, but like most times, it wasn't just one thing but a build-up over time that culminates in a massive meltdown.

You see, I was not getting much appreciation or validation for all of my contributions. This was a time when my partner, too, was working full-time and in graduate school two evenings a week. It was stressful for everyone, but, as the wife and mother, I carried the family through it by tending to the little details: the pick-up and drop-offs, the shopping, the cooking, all the minutiae of everyday life.

So, after perseverating on my laundry list of seen and unseen responsibilities, I decided to sit down with pen and paper and make a "day in the life" list from wake-up to bedtime that showed my partner exactly what my day entailed—a day that supported two other people in the house and one in the oven.

Even I was surprised to see all of the things listed out in 15-minute increments. On paper, it actually looked even worse than it felt. I thought to myself about how much physical, mental and emotional energy I expend in this hectic season of our lives. And I didn't regret it for a minute.

However, back to my original complaint…I still wanted to be validated for it. I needed to be seen for both the implicit and explicit tasks and expectations in my day-to-day.

So I handed my list over to my husband, expecting him to be awakened to the fact I was indeed working in overdrive and for him to be grateful for all the ways that I take so many burdens off of him so that he can be successful in school and his career.

Instead of that, his response almost put me into a state of shock. He read over the list and then said, "I know. You are Superwoman."

His words, like kryptonite, left me speechless. Part of me knew that his intent was for this to be a compliment, but it felt so invalidating. It completely missed the mark, and instead of leaving me feeling appreciated, I felt less understood.

Superheroes have innate superpowers that I imagine they use with ease. In fact, they are expected to use their powers and perhaps that is their sole purpose. No one ever looks to a superhero and asks, "Do you need a break?" And as a feminist, I sure as heck believe women are strong and powerful. But the idea of being labeled a "superwoman" did not feel empowering.

I already know I am efficient, capable, strong and fierce. But, I am also fatigued, sometimes overworked and underappreciated, and worst of all expected to be the one that keeps it together for everyone else.

What I learned about through my research of who Superwoman really is was this: her powers always wear off by the end of the story. Turns out these so-called "superpowers" really are temporary. That I can relate to.

I am only human and there are days and weeks where I feel on top of the world, days where I can manage it all with ease. I can be up all night nursing a baby, take both kids to school, and show up on time for a 9:00 am meeting with a French pastry I baked from scratch. I can push through the exhaustion and demands every day…until I can't.

And it's not just my spouse who uses this label. I have well-meaning girlfriends who have also tossed the term out there as if it was meant to be a feather in my cap.

When things get tough, I appreciate the texts of support my girlfriends send me. Even when they are far away, it's nice to know someone cares when everyone in your house has the stomach flu while your partner is out of the country. It's comforting to be able to share the ups and downs of trying to balance a career with a growing family.

But when the text comes in and says something like, "I don't know how you do all that. You are a supermom!" I feel like there should be an auto-reply that says, "Connection lost."

The thing is, I don't want to be elevated to superhero status for living my life. It is not heroic and it's probably not too far off from what every other devoted partner and mother provides their family. But, this is what I think we need, what we are starving for. We need someone to say, "How are you doing?" or, "What have you done lately to care for yourself?" or, "Thank you for all that you do and who you are."

Those are the kinds of words that let me know I am seen and make me feel validated when I am working the hardest. They let me know that the people I love the most see me, and not a cape.

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