With the legalization of cannabis expanding around the world, it’s time to have a nuanced conversation about its use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. What do we know about the health risks? What about the legal risks? Is a non-biased risk-benefit analysis centered on harm reduction possible, and what would that look like? Heather Thompson has answers. Check it out.
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What we talked about:
- What needs to be considered as we go into this discussion?
- The nuances of the word “safe”
- Health risks for baby during pregnancy use
- Legalization does not equal safety (think of alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, etc.)
- Correlation vs. causation
- Legal risks
- Automatic abuse and neglect?
- Cannabis and breastfeeding
- The research: oral bioavailability and Relative Infant Dose
- Considerations of chronic vs occasional use
- How long does it stay in your system?
- Why is the individual using it?
- Risk-benefit analysis around harm reduction
- Risks of not breastfeeding
- Risks of effects to the developing prefrontal cortex
- The problems with a punitive approach
- A glimpse into the child welfare system
- Checking your biases
Mentioned links and other related resources:
- Infant Risk Center
- National Advocates for Pregnant Women
- The Bronx Defenders
- Movement for Family Power
- Children’s Exposure to PFAS Chemicals Begins in the Womb
From the Elephant Circle Blog (written by Heather):
- My take on the most recent paper on cannabis and human milk, “Marijuana Use by Breastfeeding Mothers and Cannabinoid Concentrations in Breastmilk.”
- The expanded re-cap of the lecture by Drs. Teresa Baker and Thomas Hale on their recent publication, “Transfer of Inhaled Cannabis into Human Breast Milk.”
- My take on the recent paper, “Recommendations From Cannabis Dispensaries About First-Trimester Cannabis Use.”
- Publication of Colorado data! “Transfer of Inhaled Cannabis Into Human Breast Milk” by T. Baker, P. Datta, K. Rewers-Felkins, H. Thompson, R. Kallem and T. Hale.
About Heather Thompson
Heather Thompson, MS, PhD, is a molecular and cellular biologist, clinical researcher, birthworker and queer parent. She has worked on issues related to reproductive health for more than 25 years. From 2010-2017 she was the Research Director at a community birth center in Colorado, advocating for access to midwives and community birth through data generation, analysis and dissemination.
Currently she is the Deputy Director of Elephant Circle, a birth justice organization, doing work that allows her to combine her background in birth access and equity with science and community organizing. She is passionate about supporting the family unit and helping families navigate their own journey, particularly as it relates to maternity care, birth choices and legal cannabis.
Born and raised in Colorado, Heather enjoys being outside around a campfire with her partner, two kids and larger community.
Find out more at elephantcircle.net
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Title music: “Vibe Ace” by Kevin MacLeod, from the Free Music Archive / CC BY (edited for length).
Sponsorship music: “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie, from the Free Music Archive / CC BY (edited for length).
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