Talking with Your Clients: Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women
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KEY TALKING POINTS AND RESOURCES TO HELP YOU IN CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR CLIENTS
GENERAL TALKING POINTS
- Legal doesn’t mean safe. Just like alcohol or tobacco, cannabis has effects on the brain and body.
- You should NEVER use cannabis if you have a history of mental illness or addiction, are under 25, or if pregnant or breastfeeding because you are more at risk of harm than others.
PRECONCEPTION WOMEN AND MEN
- Using cannabis may affect the ability to become pregnant.
- In heavy users, cannabis use has been linked to:
- changes in menstrual cycle for women, and
- lower sperm count and poorer sperm quality in men.
- Even though cannabis is a plant, it does not make it safe to use during pregnancy.
- There is no known safe amount of cannabis use in any form (smoked, vaped, eaten, etc.) when pregnant.
- Until we know more about the short and long-term effects of cannabis, the safest option for you and your baby is to NOT use cannabis while pregnant.
- Cannabis can be passed to a fetus while pregnant, which may be harmful to your baby.
- Cannabis use during pregnancy may result in your baby having a lower birth weight, which can lead to health problems as your child grows.
- Using cannabis during pregnancy may also affect your baby’s developing brain, lead to learning and behavioural problems, and mental health issues, which may affect your child throughout life.
- Cannabis use is not recommended to treat morning sickness, or for medical or therapeutic purposes during pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider about safer options.
- There is no known safe amount of cannabis use in any form (smoked, vaped, eaten, etc.) when breastfeeding.
- Cannabis can be passed onto your baby through breast milk and be stored in your baby’s fat cells, including the developing brain.
- Since the chemical THC in cannabis is stored in body fat, and can stay in the body for weeks, the ‘pumping and dumping of breastmilk’ will not eliminate the risk of exposure to cannabis.
- Until we know more about the short and long-term effects of cannabis, the safest option for you and your baby is to NOT use cannabis when breastfeeding.
- Cannabis can make you feel sleepy, confused, affect mood and the ability to make decisions. This may affect a mother’s ability to breastfeed and care for your baby. Remember, the effects of cannabis can last for several hours.
- Breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for your baby. If you need help to stop cannabis use, local support is available (refer to last section: Getting Help with Substance Use)
- Cannabis use may affect your ability to pay attention, make decisions, act quickly in an emergency, and respond to a child’s needs (e.g., hunger cues, need of comfort). Remember, the effects of cannabis can last for several hours.
- Store all cannabis products in a locked and secure container, away from children.
- Like tobacco smoke, secondhand cannabis smoke is harmful, especially for babies and children.
GETTING HELP WITH SUBSTANCE USE
- Windsor-Essex Crisis Line: 519-973-4435 (24 hour/7 days a week)
- If unintentional ingestion or bad reaction, call 911 or the Ontario Poison Centre: 1-800-268-9017
Find local treatment services
- Visit www.wechu.org/gethelp Directory of helplines and local treatment services for mental health and addictions. Can download and print a Treatment Options Brochure from this page
- Call Connex Ontario: 1-866-531-2600 www.connexontario.ca (24/7 support in 100+ languages)
Best Start. (2017). Risks of cannabis on fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenting. Retrieved from https://www.beststart.org/resources/alc_reduction/RisksOfCannabis_A30-E.pdf
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. (2018). Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis: Maternal Cannabis Use during Pregnancy. Retrieved from http://www.ccsa.ca/Resource%20Library/CCSA-Cannabis-Maternal-Use-Pregnancy-Report-2018-en.pdf
Government of Canada. (2018). Is Cannabis safe during preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding? Cannabis Evidence Brief. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/hc-sc/documents/services/publications/drugs-health-products/is-cannabis-safe-during-preconception-pregnancy-breastfeeding/is-cannabis-safe-during-preconception-pregnancy-breastfeeding.pdf