Is It Safe To Take CBD When You Are Breastfeeding?

Bringing new life into the world and then nourishing that life with your own body for months or even years is a beautiful task. They say when a baby is born, a mother is born also. The postpartum period is full of deep transformation, hormonal changes, and the growth accompanied with stepping into a new life role. It's natural for anxiety, overwhelm, or even postpartum depression to creep in during this period.

"When someone experiences a significant shift in identity, such as becoming someone's mother, the psyche has to adjust. Simply because someone is a mother doesn't mean that they always identify as a mother. This means that the rest of the world has already shifted their perception of who you are before you've had a chance to catch up. It's disorienting," says Corinne Laird, a psychotherapist and professor at Columbia University (via romper).

So, it's no wonder that some mothers may need extra mental support when they're new to the world of parenting. And if you used cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) in the past to stabilize your mood, it might be tempting to do so while breastfeeding. Unfortunately, the FDA has not ruled CBD as safe for breastfeeding mothers (via U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

CBD may be passed to your baby

CBD has been celebrated for its therapeutic, soothing effects without causing intoxication. Tinctures, salves, sparkling water, gummies — there are countless forms of CBD in the wellness market today, and its popularity is valid. However, a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology has found that it's possible for THC to pass from mother to baby through breastmilk. And while the study didn't examine the passage of CBD (which is most often THC-free) from mother to baby, the FDA still says it's a no-go for now (via Parents).

You may be wondernig, "What about pumping and dumping just like a mother does after drinking alcohol?" As it turns out, alcohol leaves the body much quicker than marijuana. It could take as long as weeks or months before breast milk is THC-free (via Medical News Today). And if you're a nursing mother on a schedule, you know that just won't cut it. 

On the flip side, according to an interview in Parents with Dr. Robert Flannery, Ph.D, new mothers have used CBD for thousands of years. Prescribing CBD to a nursing mother isn't something he'd recommend due to the lack of research, but it isn't a new concept. And until it's proven to be safe, it's best to talk with your doctor about how best to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

How to safely treat anxiety while breastfeeding

If anxiety and depression during breastfeeding can't be controlled with a nourishing diet, sunlight, proper support, and social connection, some mothers may need pharmacological treatment, which may ultimately enhance and lengthen the breastfeeding journey for the mother and baby. SSRIs are said to be relatively safe for breastfeeding women and the amount of medication passed through the breastmilk to the infant is low (via Women's Mental Health). The same has been found for anxiety medications.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, one in five women struggle with postpartum anxiety. Breastfeeding is already a strenuous task for any mother, so if her anxiety is getting in the way of feeding her baby, it's important to take all necessary steps to ensure the infant can continue to receive the amazing nourishment found in breastmilk. Getting as much sleep as possible (which is obviously easier said than done), hanging out with other moms who are in the same boat, and gradually increasing physical movement with walks or yoga classes can all steer a mother's mental health back in the right direction. And until the baby is weaned and mom can once again enjoy CBD, that's a vital course of action.