Cannabis use During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding, with Heather Thompson

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:

From the Elephant Circle Blog (written by Heather):



About Heather Thompson

Courtesy of 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


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Title music:Vibe Aceby 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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