I was thrilled to learn recently, after inviting one then the other over to catch up, that two of my good female friends are both pregnant. Both of them said something like, “I’d love to hang out, I just can’t drink or be around smoke or even food these days…” And so then I knew what was up immediately because I’m thinking no one in their right mind would give up all three for no reason. I also knew that my friends think of me as an incorrigible stoner. They’re not entirely wrong.
And so I respond, “Oh my god that’s totally fine, that’s fucking exciting, also I don’t need mead or weed to enjoy your company!”
But then I think of the new strains I just got, my Jesus OG and Guice and Star Dawg, and have they tried my Arizer vape? And as soon as they say nausea I’m thinking, hey try this CBD strain I got…oh, right.
And I think again of how much women sacrifice to bring life into the world. Though the nausea tends to fade after the first trimester, pregnancy is an enormous amount of psycho-physical stress on a woman. You lose control over your body and mind, and that is why some women get all Rosemary’s Baby about what’s inside them. Culture is all like,”It’s beautiful!” and women are like, “It’s body horror!”
Caution: Working While Pregnant
I can only imagine the tightrope walk it must be for working pregnant women. Employers can’t legally fire you because you’re pregnant, but they can–and, anecdotally, some do–when you’re passing out or vomiting at work. I am also aware that some women are really fed up with people treating them like they’re debilitated, dumber, more scattered, or more emotional, and that they feel they are still steering the ship, as it were. Bully for them!
Pregnancy isn’t a disease, but it ain’t smooth sailing either, especially if you get laid off while facing a mountain of hospital bills and shopping carts full of diapers, your hormones going haywire, a ticking time bomb inside you of responsibility and bills and wondering if you’ll be a good enough parent…I’d want a toke REAL bad.
Cold Turkey: Good in Sandwiches, Not Nervous Systems
Not surprisingly, many women do choose to continue using cannabis into their pregnancy, despite the risks. There are of course a myriad number of reasons why, but for the sake of argument let’s say we’re talking about the women who use cannabis as part of their daily regimen of supplements or other prescriptions.
When another friend of mine became pregnant, she spoke with her psychiatrist about her regular medications for mood disorders, and they determined together that she would be more at risk to stop taking them cold-turkey than they would be of risk to the baby. When we’re talking about the symptoms of depression and eating disorders, we’re talking serious consequences to a mother’s health as well as the fetus’. You can’t give life when you’re trying to end your own.
Besides, in a general sense, it is inadvisable to quit any prescribed medication cold-turkey. Hell, if you quit taking your vitamins after regular use, you’ll feel different. We’re strong, resilient creatures, but our nervous systems are, well, neurotic.
Rather than run any risk whatsoever, she quit drinking and smoking as soon as they were certain. She and her husband tend to smoke joints everyday, and the neonatal risks from smoke are already well-documented, so that was a no-brainer.
No Magic Pill
There are very troubling reports out there that some personnel at medical dispensaries are telling patients that medical cannabis is a perfectly sound way to treat morning sickness and mood swings. It treats chemo patients’ nausea, why not pregnancy?
It seems that as more and more people are incorporating cannabis in their daily lives, the more pregnant women are continuing their use throughout pregnancy. And while there are very few human studies related to the issue, animal studies show that cannabis introduction during the neonatal phase has deleterious effects on the growing fetus, and can even interfere with the brain’s development and high-order executive functioning in adolescence. These studies are unclear as to whether this is all due to cannabis use, or if it’s more that a young person’s inability to focus and express needs early on lead to delinquent behavior later. And in some studies, the effects waned with age while in others they increased.
So far, I’m not seeing any studies about the effects of different methods of cannabis use on pregnancy. Smoke=Bad, got it. Maybe even inhalation is not great, because the baby breathes that too. And maybe not edibles, for the same reason. I wonder about topicals. A little CBD lotion on the feet to calm that inflammation? On the lower back? A few drops of CBD tincture on the tongue in the morning to help with nausea? Surely there’s a safe dosage, perhaps capsules isolating one or another beneficial terpene, that can safely alleviate symptoms that prevent women from working, for example.
The Church of Cannabis
(Apparently this is a real thing. You’re welcome.)
There is definitely a trend right now where we’re all like, “What else sucks about modern life? How can cannabis treat that?” When you look at those “entourage effect” hand-outs at the dispensaries, it really does seem like it’s the magic, cure-all elixir. Our psycho-somatic savior. The flower of life.
And no wonder. If superheroes are our American myths, cannabis may just be the new American religion. After all, we have a lot of de-programming work to do on the U.S. mainstream, thanks to Hearst’s smear campaigns in the 1930’s. And with the growing issue of climate change, the increasing prevalence of natural disasters and diminishing natural resources, competition among humans has never been fiercer. Our stressors seem greater, amplified by social media and the megalomaniac leaders we’ve elected into office. The modern human needs cannabis more than ever it seems.
We shouldn’t pretend that cannabis is a be-all end-all cure to every affliction. And while it’s also not productive to think of pregnancy as an “affliction,” it is likewise foolish and damaging and backwards to fail to consider the needs of the woman carrying the precious life. That woman’s life is precious too.
And yes, our foremothers have roughed it out and pushed out every screaming generation under dire circumstances, in taxi cabs and elevators, in the rain, in the mud, in caves, in alleys, at the prom, in a bullfight, on a rollercoaster, at her wedding, on a mountaintop, without any drugs or gloves or anyone holding their hands as they push… but don’t modern women deserve to reap the benefits of modern medicine and research?
Expectant mothers today do have more options for alleviating symptoms, with hospital drugs or a bath or whale sounds, and many get through the experience, give life, and enjoy their families as they grow–all without weed. Not because they don’t know about it or because they’re afraid, or because they’re magical beings who are never afraid or anxious or desperate. But because, as my friend put it when she stopped smoking and drinking, “[The baby] makes it all worth it.”
Now, when she’s done breastfeeding, and the little scamp is talking and running around and irritating the cats and trying to kill his parents by leaving his toys around, she can call me up and I’ll be there with my vape pen. ‘Cause mama needs her medicine.