Motherhood is something that brings so many changes into our lives and can leave us questioning our consumption of cannabis. We’ve all dealt with someone’s opinion on cannabis and pregnancy, and it can be really scary to openly talk about. That’s why today we’re talking with Kala Sanmartin from The Cannabis Nurses to bring you the fact based information you deserve to know!
In this episode we’re going to talk about cannabis use during pregnancy and labour, coming equipped to your doctor’s appointment with proper cannabis knowledge, and how to critically examine the studies that come up in research. There’s so much information out there that is biased or lacking in some way, so it’s incredibly important to know how to analyze it. We’re really looking into all the stigma that surrounds cannabis use and pregnancy and how to get past it to know what’s right for you and your situation.
Kala is a registered nurse who aims to help women empower themselves with cannabis knowledge and to help make those tough decisions a little easier, so I’m super excited for her to share her knowledge with us. This episode had so much great information and advice, and Kala is so amazing at helping other women to have a voice in their pregnancy. This is such a great topic so make sure to head over to the UM Club Facebook group after to discuss!
Want to learn more about this episode and all it has to offer? Join the UM Club! Every week feature a new guest speaker and hot topic, and right now you can join for as little as $3 a month!
Looking for more cannabis info? Download our Free Mom’s Cannabis Guide to access information and research about cannabis basics, and how it applies to the different stages of motherhood.
The Power of CBD with Lindsey Corum
Implications of Being a Canna Mom with Danielle Simone Brand
Using Cannabis for Better Health with @SavvyStonedGirl
Kala owns an independent practice and is a holistic cannabis nurse coach helping women explore how cannabis can help them achieve overall health and wellbeing. She is also passionate about educating other nurses about the therapeutic uses of cannabis.
In This Episode We Talk About
00:21 – Who is Kala?
03:55 – Why might someone be interested in using cannabis during pregnancy?
05:20 – The risks of consuming cannabis while pregnant
09:44 – What to look out for in cannabis studies.
13:52 – Mitigating risk.
20:12 – The risks surrounding the legal and social aspects of cannabis use.
30:52 – Using cannabis in labour.
35:30 – Avoiding the stigma in the doctor’s office.
41:54 – Where to find Kala!
Watch the Video
Listen to the Audio
Join the UM Club!
UM Club Facebook page
Mom’s Cannabis Guide
Using Cannabis for Better Health with @SavvyStonedGirl
The Power of CBD with Lindsey Corum
The Cannabis Nurses
The Canna Queens’ Club
Kala’s Instagram: @Kala_CannaQueen
The Medical Cannabis Institute
SheCann: Empowering Canadian Women
Read the Full Conversation
Hello and welcome to another episode inside the Unapologetic Moms Club. I am so excited today to be digging into cannabis and pregnancy with Kala Sanmartin from The Cannabis Nurses. So thank you so much for being here with us today.
Thank you for having me.
This is a hot topic, and we are just going to dive right into it to talk about things from a non-stigmatized viewpoint. We’re just going to roll with it and get right to the facts. So, Kala, let’s hear a little bit about who you are, what you do, your credentials, why you’re so passionate about this stuff.
So my name is Kala. I am a registered nurse. I’ve been practising for about 10 years now and have been really, really interested in cannabis and what it can do for everyone’s overall health and wellness for about the last five or six years. And my journey really started in this because I was faced with making a decision about cannabis use in pregnancy.
Prior to learning and using cannabis effectively in my life, I suffered with insomnia for many years, and I unexpectedly became pregnant. And so I stopped my sleeping pills. And after three weeks of excruciating insomnia, I lost that pregnancy. So it was sort of kind of this decision of where do I go from here? What do I do?
And once I sort of introduced cannabis into my life, it did so many amazing things for myself that I needed to know more. It really, really sparked a personal interest about cannabis. And I started to educate myself. I started to take courses through The Medical Cannabis Institute in the States. And I remember kind of connecting with physicians here in the Edmonton, Alberta area that were at clinics, and they sort of led me to these courses. And when I took those courses, they said “you realize you’ll know more about cannabis than the average physician?” And I said “great, because I’m so interested in this, because of how much it’s helped me and how many people around me were interested about cannabis.”
And so that was sort of the start of my journey five or six years ago, and then it’s sort of been this kind of constant evolution of just continuing to educate myself and continue to use it in my own life. And then I realized, going down the road, that people were really interested about cannabis and how to use it, specifically women.
So it’s been on the second maternity leave that I’ve been on, that I really started to wonder where can I fill the gaps in this industry? And because I realized I was sending lots of people to cannabis clinics, but they’re always coming back to me for further guidance and more personalized support. And then that was the creation of The Cannabis Nurses. Because I wanted to be able to provide that holistic nurse coach perspective on how to use cannabis so that I could really teach women, specifically women, to become conscious cannabis consumers.
And so often the question comes up about pregnancy and lactation, you know, what do we know about cannabis? Is it safe? And I have many women reaching out to me because there is no place to find this information easily.
Yeah, there’s not at all. I am a long-term cannabis user, back in high school. And it was used for different things, much more recreational, a little bit was my go to medicine for like headaches, help with sleep, that sort of thing.
But then when I became pregnant, I needed to know all the information to make the best decisions for me and my baby and there’s just barely any information out there. And it’s so hard to dig through it all so we can feel informed to make the decisions that are right for us, which is a big drive for why I’ve been talking more about cannabis too, and why I really wanted to have you here.
So let’s start out, why might a woman want to use cannabis in pregnancy?
I think that really just lines up why a woman in any sense might want to use cannabis in more of a wellness or medical way. You know, it could be things from anxiety to depression, to nausea and vomiting, for myself insomnia. Or what about epilepsy? You know, a lot of the medications women are prescribed for epilepsy are absolutely not safe in pregnancy. And they have documented proof of that. So then it becomes “do I go off my medication and risk having seizures and potentially risk having brain damage or the effects on the fetus? Or maybe I’ll consider cannabis.”
And then another reason that others in pregnancy might seek cannabis would be for pain or for headaches. And then also for our harm reduction standpoint. You know, those that are using substances like alcohol or other prescription or street drugs that we know are linked with fetal abnormalities, then we start to question, is cannabis actually a good harm reduction strategy in this situation? So lots of reasons why women might be curious about cannabis in pregnancy.
Yeah, many reasons. And it’s not black and white, right? It’s like a big wide spectrum. No one’s out like, “I’m just gonna smoke a joint just for the hell of it.” With pregnant women there’s a lot more thought that goes into it.
So what are the real risks of consuming cannabis while pregnant?
So when we talk and we say real risks, what I can tell you is that we don’t know, we really don’t know. There is longitudinal studies out there where they went in and they asked for self-reports of women that use cannabis in pregnancy, but we’re talking from like, 1970s 1980s into the early 2000s. So this is before recreational legalization. And they follow those infants that were exposed to cannabis in pregnancy, and they followed them and they wanted to find out, you know, what impact did that have in their childhood and their middle childhood.
And they started to pull some data that indicated that there could be a potential of risk related to neurological development in the long-term sense. And they started to see potential problems within attention, verbal reasoning, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and – I’m reading off my list here, it’s a little bit of a long one – aggression, and psychotic episodes.
But in all of these studies, as we talk about these things, all of these studies acknowledge that there’s great limitations to their studies, and that these conclusions tend to be inconsistent and subtle, so that they don’t even hold maybe statistical relevance because they’re unsure. Is it due to the cannabis use? Or is it due to confounding factors? Is it related to socioeconomic status, or exposure to other substances like alcohol or cigarettes? Is it related to their prenatal care? Or were they taking prenatal vitamins, and what was the disposition of the mother postpartum and her characteristics? They tell us that in those studies, that we don’t know, that there’s huge limitations to these studies.
And then another thing that they look at in more kind of post-birth, and in that sort of immediate infancy, is the chance of preterm birth and low birth weight. So there are some subtle findings that indicate that this is a potential risk. But we don’t know for certain because we don’t know how to divide out all the other factors that could factor into low birth weight, preterm birth, and then all of these other neurological kinds of findings in later childhood.
Okay, so just to clarify, like the subtle findings, it’s just meaning it’s not very clear?
Yes. Yeah, exactly, the causation isn’t clear.
And so many limitations to the studies. They also talk about how we don’t know how much are they consuming, what was the potency of the cannabis? Or the source, we don’t know what was in that cannabis. This is at a time when cannabis – there was a little bit available in the medical realm, but really, this was all black market cannabis that women would have been consuming. Were they smoking it? Were they eating it? We don’t know any of that at this point.
So is there any information that we do know? Is there anything that is somewhat solid? Or is it like we just really don’t know.
So the one sort of solid thing that we do know about cannabis consumption in pregnancy is that it is not linked to congenital birth defects. So that is like one that they are fairly certain about. They haven’t specifically had, you know, those gold standard studies in humans. But we do have those studies in mice. And so they gave them the synthetic forms of THC at 30 times the human dose, which is an extremely high dose because we don’t really have a maximum human dose for cannabis, because of its safety profile. But they gave these mice a huge huge dose of Marinol, which is our synthetic form of THC. And there were no outcomes of congenital birth defects. And for CBD, which is Epidiolex in the synthetic form, they gave them 16 times the human dose and did not find any birth defects.
Okay. And is that a more recent study?
Yes, these are more recent, and you kind of go along the thought process of we know that alcohol causes fetal alcohol syndrome. That was like a correlation that was quite evident and easy to make. We haven’t seen a correlation between pregnancy cannabis consumption and birth defects.
So here, let’s dig into the studies a little bit more, and what to really look out for. I know I cover some of this in my mom’s cannabis guide. But a lot of the studies aren’t necessarily very clear. As we talked before we logged on, sometimes they have a decision in mind before they’re even doing the research, they already are kind of saying what the outcome is. So what should we be looking for when we are doing our own research?
So I think it’s really important when we start to look at research studies to look at the sample size. Most of the studies that we have, the sample sizes are around 60 some individuals or infants that were exposed to cannabis. And ultimately, these are really, really small sample sizes. And as we start to look through these research studies, it’s really important to look at when they identify the limitations to the study. That’s a really important thing to look at. And these studies do tell us about their limitations. So things like “we don’t know if confounding factors is the reason we found this outcome. Because we weren’t able to account for things like race, socioeconomic status, all those different things.” So really starting to look at those limitations in the study. And the sample sizes, I think, is really, really important.
Mm hmm. Yeah, the socioeconomic factors are huge. And that’s one thing that there is a lot of data for, with pregnancy and motherhood and how much that can impact even a mom’s ability and willingness to do long-term breastfeeding, is very closely correlated with socioeconomic factors. And so it can really play such a huge role in so many parts of infancy and parenthood and all of that.
Yep. So really, when we start to look at sort of these subtle findings that it could impact neurological development, it’s also important in the back of our minds to keep in mind that this is like a multifactorial finding, that the cause of hyperactivity or aggression in the child is not just usually linked to one thing. You know, it’s linked to the households they grow in, their education level, the foods they are fed. So many different things that to completely link it straight to cannabis use is, it’s a big claim, right?
And then the research, these longitudinal studies – which means they pulled together as much data they could over a long period of time. And they do admit that, which I appreciate, but you do really have to read and dig to find that out.
You really do. It takes a lot of time. And those studies can be quite wordy. If you’re not used to looking at them, it can be somewhat confusing at first.
Yeah. It takes some practice.
So with that in mind, like there are a lot of socioeconomic factors and us as mothers and being pregnant, that’s something for us to really look at too when we’re making these decisions. If cannabis is right for us, what other factors can we look at to make sure the health of our babies and children are as good as we can make them be?
So when we start talking about cannabis use in pregnancy and making sure it’s as safe as possible, if that’s a route that aligns with a mother’s values and choices when she’s making that evidence formed decision, something to really look at is how we consume cannabis. We know that smoking, even if it’s cigarettes, if it’s street drugs, if it’s cannabis, has the potential to reduce the oxygen delivery to the placenta. So right then and there, we know that how we consume our cannabis, we can have better choices about how we consume our cannabis and choose our routes of administration.
So at that point, is ingesting cannabis safer than smoking cannabis? Likely. Is vaporizing safer than smoking cannabis? Likely. So then we can start to make those choices to start to mitigate any sort of risks to the fetus.
Mm hmm. So let’s dig into that a little bit more for how we can mitigate those risks. So you’ve touched on consumption. I am curious, because we also know with edibles, it does kind of stay in the system a little bit longer. It takes us longer to metabolize compared to smoking. Do you have any thoughts on how that might affect things?
So as far as we know, about 1/3 of THC consumption crosses the placenta. And so when we know that it’s 1/3, if we are consuming cannabis, the idea of micro dosing or using the lowest dose possible to treat whatever symptoms that you’re trying to treat with cannabis, is really important. And that’s what I’m always trying to teach women, and not necessarily pregnant women but women in general, is being conscious consumers of cannabis. Why are we consuming cannabis and how do we consume cannabis in the safest lowest dose possible?
So I’m not sure when you say, you know, versus smoking staying in your system versus ingesting cannabis, we know that it lasts longer in the body. But we also know that cannabis is – it’s a fat loving molecule, it’s stored in our fat tissue. So no matter how we ingest it, it stays in our system for a while no matter what.
Mm hmm. And I guess on the other hand, if you’re looking for relief or whatever it might be, if you’re smoking and it’s wearing off, you’re needing to have more repeat doses compared to edibles. So that would kind of make more sense for that edibles low dose to be a smarter choice.
Yes. And then we have less chance of decreasing oxygen to the placenta, which can pose risks for babies.
And then I would assume the actual product itself and kind of ingredients in that is something we should be aware of, what are your thoughts on that?
Yes, absolutely. Some of the studies start to talk about, you know, we didn’t know if there were pesticides, or what was in that cannabis product. And we are lucky to be in Canada and have this sort of legalization of the recreational market and to actually have it regulated by Health Canada, because what’s in those products, we know what’s in those products, it’s regulated. And so if you do have the finances or the choice, to seek out organic options, because then we have less chance of contaminants in those products and just less chance of fetal harm from chemicals or pesticides.
Absolutely. So would you say that’s kind of the main red flag, is thinking of those chemicals and pesticides that you want to look out for? Is there anything else?
Not overly, not that I would know of at this point But also looking at cannabinoid content. So when we’re looking at THC and CBD contents, though we don’t have studies yet that differentiate between THC and CBD consumption in humans, we have some in mice, but you know, really the THC molecule is the one that interacts with with the brain, with the cb1 receptors in our brains.
So if we are trying to mitigate sort of any risk of neuro development, then trying to use the lowest THC possible is a really good idea. You know, it’s another way to decrease risk, when we start to really evaluate, you know, quantities of THC. If it’s actually in a flower, then we can look at the THC quantity in flower, or take the lowest micro dose possible of an ingested cannabis oil or edible.
That makes a lot of sense, actually haven’t thought of that, with the different percentages. Yeah, that’s a really good idea.
You know, when we go back to this, too, when we start talking about cannabis use in pregnancy, or really doing anything in pregnancy, I think our world kind of forgot about maternal instincts. A lot of these cautions around anything in pregnancy is really, really linked to fear. And, you know, being a mother that’s faced with sort of these decisions, and constantly kind of focusing on what’s best for her fetus, and everything’s linked in fear, we sort of almost forget about the mother sometimes, which, you know, makes me feel uncomfortable.
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s the thing a lot of women end up facing is like you touched on at the beginning, is I am taking this certain medication, or it’s been recommended to me while I’m pregnant. But there still are these other risks, like a lot of prescribed medication does still have quite a bit of risks. And so we as the women and the mother have the power to look at these and really follow our intuition too, and do what we feel is right.
Totally because we always talk like Tylenol is safe in pregnancy, take it, go ahead and take it. But it still poses risk, Tylenol consumption in pregnancy is just sort of generalized across society as being very safe, and we don’t think twice about it. But yet there is still risk, there’s still risk to anti-nausea medications like Zofran that’s often prescribed in pregnancy. And the funny thing about that is that, you know, if a mother was to choose cannabis over Zofran, the research data on both sides is inconclusive for both. But there is this perception of safety with Zofran versus the perception of safety with cannabis.
Yeah. So it’s really breaking through those different stigmas to find the choice that really is right for us.
Yeah, but I also acknowledge for mothers, especially for pregnant mothers, but any woman that wants to sit down and talk to a practitioner about cannabis use, that it’s a hard conversation to have. That it’s an uncomfortable conversation to have, and that often prevents us from speaking to our providers about it.
And in a way I don’t blame people because physicians really do lack a lot of education around cannabis and they do often hold a lot of their own stigmas. And I’ve seen this time and time again with my clients and with friends and family that want to sit down to have these conversations. and have these open, non-judgmental conversations. But we hear physicians using terms like dope and are still on the pot and things like that. And already there is a start to a stigmatized conversation.
Yeah, absolutely. So what are the real risks? For, say, choosing to consume cannabis, or even talking to your doctor about it? I know in the States, it varies a lot, state by state, and there can be some really big repercussions with CPS involved. Here in Canada, I’m assuming that’s the area you know more of, what are the risks that can happen to women in these situations?
We’re lucky I think, compared to the States that we don’t really have that risk of Child Protective Services becoming involved. We don’t test after birth for cannabis consumption like they do in some places in the states, that will test baby for THC consumption if they have concern. So I really don’t think for women – the biggest risk that they would have is to feel that stigma from their provider. And that’s an uncomfortable feeling. And there is research in the harm reduction realm that shows that stigmatization can really affect the health of the mother and their children long-term. But I think here in Canada, the biggest risk that you would face would be being stigmatized by your practitioner.
Yeah. Are practitioners able to call anyone else in if they think or know you’re using cannabis? Do they have any power to kind of threaten your family?
Not that I’m aware of here in Canada, unless they see it as you being a risk to yourself or others. As a nurse, that’s kind of the only place that I’ve seen intervention, and not necessarily with pregnant women, but just in patients in general, where they’re allowed to bring in other professionals to help in those situations. But it’s a heavy decision to make, to find out if they’re a risk to themselves or to others.
Yeah, and here in Canada, they’re generally not very quick to act on it, there’s a lot of different things that need to be checked off the list before they’re going to make that kind of action.
Yeah. So say, someone has faced the stigma with their practitioner, but they do feel like it is the right choice for their situation, what would you recommend for them?
I would recommend that, you know, they can reach out to me. I have a document available that has pulled sort of all these studies together that I can provide them with, so that they can really for themselves, take a look at the studies, take a look at some well researched articles, and so that they know in their hearts that they’re making a decision that is really evidence informed to the best of their ability for the research that we have available to them.
And then taking those steps to be a really, really conscious consumer and to really, every time you’re consuming, to really re-evaluate “why am I consuming? What is my purpose behind this?” And really start to separate that kind of approach of recreational use versus medicinal or wellness use? And so really asking themselves the question, you know, “why am I using” just so that they really understand that they’re making a good decision for themselves and for their fetus?
And so, you know, then looking at if I’m used to smoking, if I’m used to either using a pipe or a bong or joints, how can I decrease the risk to my unborn child? Is that switching to vaporizing? Is that switching to the lowest THC quantities and micro dosing, and looking at those organic products?
Yeah, and I find the more you can reflect and research, the more confident you become in your decisions too. When people do bring in different comments or judgments, you’re in a better position to kind of hold your ground and even provide education as well and not allow them to start making you second guess yourself. It is really helpful to just be very confident in all of that research that you do.
Yeah. And that’s that piece of self education and really becoming these conscious consumers of cannabis. And in my Canna Queens’ Club, this is what I call the Canna Queens Uprising. This is where we have all that – I’m providing as much education as possible to these women so that they can have these conscious conversations with their physicians. They know what their endocannabinoid system is. They know why they’re using cannabis and they know why they’re using those specific products.
And I think that enters into a very different conversation with a practitioner, even if they are stigmatized to it. But knowing that this is a person that hasn’t just willy nilly decided that they’re going to consume cannabis in pregnancy, that they’ve really done their research, they know potential risks, they know potential benefits. And they know what aligns with their own personal values. Because ultimately as mothers, it is our choice. It is our choice where you want to birth, how you want to birth, all of how you want to go about postpartum, it is your choice.
And so we just need to be presented with education, we don’t need to be pushed on us, this is the way you do it and you do it because of this fear mongering reason. And I really hope as time goes on – and we are starting to see it more, you know, we’re starting to see women birth more often with midwives and different things like that. I wasn’t able to because of health concerns, but from just hearing from friends and other women that have birthed with midwives, it’s this beautiful, new holistic approach to such a natural thing.
And I think that’s so empowering to women to know that this is sort of a natural thing, and that we have instincts as women and as mothers, and we’re allowed to trust them. And our instincts only get stronger the more educated we get. And I love that idea of sort of putting the power back into that woman’s hands.
We lost midwives to the patriarchy, we saw them be burned at the stake when men started to be trained in obstetrical medicine, right? We’ve seen patriarchy take cannabis away from us. And so we’re in a kind of an era of what I call the Canna Queen Uprising of women really taking back their power, understanding their bodies, understanding what they’re going through and understanding what we’re putting in our bodies. And how can a practitioner really kind of go against you when you’ve done the research? When you say, “this is my choice and I have been educated in it.”
Yes. Yes, yes, yes, I got goosebumps through that.
This is such a huge message, because I’m a registered nurse, and I have faced so much stigmatization about my cannabis use. But when we sit down and we provide educated information and maybe say, you know, “I no longer need that SSRI,” or “I don’t want that sleeping pill prescription,” or “I don’t need that nausea prescription.” Because we’ve made that educated choice, because it’s our bodies, it’s our family, it’s our babies. And we deserve to trust our instincts.
And there’s this huge piece inside of me too, that alongside talking about pregnancy and cannabis use is really women realizing that they are just as important as their babies. Because we have research showing that maternal characteristics and how we interact with our babies postpartum impacts their growth and their development.
So if we have women right in pregnancy being told, “sorry, you can’t use what you usually use for sleep, or what you usually use for your anxiety, because it could potentially-” potentially, because we don’t even have good research- “there’s subtle findings that this could cause harm to the fetus.” We’re not talking about how the mother looks after herself.
And then already, we’re starting to create this story about martership as mothers, where we don’t matter as much. And that is actually more dangerous to our fetus than potentially maybe exposing them to cannabis, because we’re looking after ourselves consciously. And that is really important for me, and I’ve learned that through motherhood that we need to be okay, we need to be healthy for our families.
Sorry, that session got me on a rant there.
Yes, I love it, I’m here for it. And that’s one of the things that I bring up commonly when I see news articles and things talking against women using cannabis in pregnancy. The comment section, it always can be very judgmental. And so I try to say a little bit of a piece. And there’s so much more to the story than that. And a really common theme I’ve seen within my community for choosing to use cannabis in pregnancy is because they are so sick, and not eating for months and actually losing weight while they’re pregnant. That in itself has its own risks, both the baby and mom are not healthy in that situation. And so it’s looking at your risks and really making the decision that’s best for you.
Totally, and a mother that can’t gain weight is a risk for a baby born with a low birth weight, which is the same subtle correlation that we’ve seen with cannabis use. So its risk benefit. It’s harm reduction. It’s understanding and evaluating both mom and baby’s health.
And I have a great example of the difference education can make on the practitioner side. Because with my first son, there were complications in the pregnancy, and I was ultrasound frequently at this high risk clinic. And at one point my son’s brain was bleeding in utero.
Oh god, that’s scary.
I’ve done a lot of therapy to get over that one. It doesn’t bring up as much anymore, thank you EMDR. But I remember asking because I was consuming cannabis in pregnancy for my sleep. I can’t sleep without it. And I remember asking, I said, “oh, my God, do you think this is related to my cannabis use?” And the physician at that time went, “oh, we just had a resident educate us about that, that wasn’t associated with that at all. Don’t think that way.” And that’s because she had just recently received updated education about cannabis and pregnancy. And that could have been a completely different experience, where I could have had the finger pointed at me about that.
And that would have such lasting impacts too.
So we still have a little bit of time, I would love to hear a little bit more about cannabis use in labour if you’re into talking about that. There’s been a lot of questions in the community about how it may be able to help. Do you have any experience with any of your patients using cannabis as a tool for labour?
Right, I have people asking questions about it more so and I’ve sort of used it for myself. But there isn’t a lot of research about that. Now, we do know that cannabis can help with pain, with nausea and vomiting, and to help people rest. So that’s definitely something that you could see some good things happening in labour.
And we’ve also, you know, historically seen it been used in labour for postpartum haemorrhage. And historically, too, for 6000 years for hyperemesis gravidarum. So that’s – sorry, we’re back to pregnancy – that’s excessive nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. And so we do have historical uses of cannabis. And I know in the States, there are some cannabis doulas, which I think is really, really interesting.
But we all know with labour, the more relaxed we can be in labour, the better we progress, right? When we’re not fighting against contractions and pain, or where we have different perceptions of pain. And cannabis can play a huge role in how our body perceives pain, the signalling messages in the brain and in the spinal cord, as well as more in sort of localized relief.
Yeah, and I could see how like, say, with cannabis and sex, which is another common theme, how it really helps you kind of quiet the noise and tune in to yourself and your experience. And I could see it being very similar with labour, allowing you to just kind of tune into yourself and go with the flow a lot easier.
Yeah, tap into your intuition, quiet the noise and tap into your intuition. And it would be interesting to see more research studies, you know. And we have cannabis suppositories available in the markets now, they’re becoming more readily available mostly in the medical market right now. But we do, we have tons of cannabinoid receptors that are in our myometrium, in the vagina, and around the uterus – we have receptors.
And so these administrations of cannabis depositories, we see relaxation in the pelvic floor, and we see peoples relief from pelvic pain. So what would that do in labour? Would that make dilation and crowning easier?
It’s good to question these things. Could you imagine if there was something that you could take that really doesn’t cause a ton of euphoria because of the route of administration and bypassing the liver, that could create a localized relaxation? Like how useful would that be? It would be amazingly useful.
Yeah. And another piece that I wish there was information on is how long does it take certain delivery methods to cross through to the placenta, because it’s something you’re very, very careful about, and really don’t want anything going through to the placenta. But maybe there is a time interval, and you could see benefits with birth and you don’t have that risk of it going to your baby,
Totally. Or even just to something which we may not see as much, but systemic absorption of cannabis, like even the topical applications of creams and lotions, when you have that back labour, that back pain, even just another tool that you could add. Or you know, when you need to actually rest in labour, when that labour is starting and stopping, and prodromal labour is going on for days – which happened to me. Cannabis use was really helpful to allow me to rest when I needed it. But again, I was educated about the risks and potential benefits and was willing to outweigh those and choose to consume.
Yeah, absolutely. And there’s lots of options. I’d love how you touched on the topicals because that’s one thing I hadn’t even thought about. And we have an UM Club episode all about CBD topicals and like their pain salve with 2000 milligrams of CBD in it. It works very, very well. And that can be a great tool.
Or bath bombs and Epsom salts that have, you know, cannabis, CBD and THC preparations in them, like what would that do? Knowing that we are capable of absorbing cannabis through our vaginas. So knowing that there’s a potential to systemically absorb some products, but you know, labour is seen so much in water. What if that was an added thing that could provide just even an ounce of relief?
Yeah, very interesting. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Do you have any other random tips or resources in terms of cannabis and pregnancy?
One thing that I did kind of want to touch on was wondering, you know, if women have seen those posters in their doctor’s office. We sort of have the yellowing sun-washed like alcohol and pregnancy posters, kind of in the far corner collecting dust, because it’s a very obvious thing to us now. But in my doctor’s office, I’ve seen the posters for cannabis use and pregnancy. And I just – as women look at those, I just really encourage them to look into the research.
I find it quite frustrating that we can look on this society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Cancer of Canada, we can look on the website and look up cannabis. And they do they, you know, they say the safest way would be not to consume because there is a small correlation of risk, or there’s a potential risk, and I absolutely 100% agree with that. And then they go into talk about the studies. And they do talk about that they’re sort of inconclusive and inconsistent and are flawed.
But then the next thing down is looking at their infographic that’s available to put up in doctors offices, and the claims that they make on them are extreme. And nowhere on that poster does it say that this comes from inconclusive, subtle, you know, from the data we actually have, it doesn’t say that at all. It puts it up like it’s complete truth. And I really struggled with that, you know, it’s fear mongering. And for a mom that’s maybe effectively using cannabis for say epilepsy or insomnia, or anxiety, depression, pain, migraines, whatever it is, she doesn’t deserve that to be her first interaction in that office, to see that poster. Because right then and there, that’s stigmatized, and that’s a huge barrier to opening up conversation with your practitioner. And I believe that if we are using cannabis in pregnancy that we should be talking to our practitioners,
Yeah, we should be able to mitigate the risks and find the best way for us because every situation is so unique. And I could see that being very troubling too for, say, even I can picture like a single pregnant mom going with a family member, because they don’t have someone else to go with. And they’re already facing a lot of stigma for their decisions. And then having posters like that in the offices just further perpetuates that.
And how many single moms do I know that have actually told me – more than one, I’ve had a handful, if not more – said “cannabis has saved me, it’s made it possible for me to be a single mom,” if that means it has given the power to leave a domestically violent relationship or whatever it is, that it’s sort of empowered them and helped them do what they need to do in this world and provide good care for their children. That’s already stigmatized. And then to throw that on top of it is just, it’s not fair. It’s really not fair.
And I guess as we talk about resources, there’s a group on Facebook called SheCann. And it’s a free Facebook group for women to come together that are in the medical market cannabis users to come together and ask questions and look for resources and stuff. But they have really done some exciting stuff. And they’ve recently, in partnership with McMaster University, have started to bring out surveys to start to ask questions, what does the public need to know? What do they want to know?
And this is starting to set the scene for cannabis research through a non-stigmatized lens. And that is huge. This is huge. And so they do have a survey available, and I’ll provide you with a link and stuff, where we can start to put our input into this and we can start to have voices, on a on a bigger level than just sort of our own being educated and talking to practitioners or family members in educated ways about cannabis. But this is the start to seeing better research.
Absolutely. That’s one thing I’m so hopeful about with legalization is that slowly over the next 10 years or so we’re going to start having so much more research, to have that information, to be more empowered to make those decisions.
Totally, because we have research on the molecular level about the endocannabinoid system and how it works. We have the anecdotal information and we have the historical data. We’re just really missing that human trial piece where we actually have the studies in humans that are done. And a huge piece of that in Canada is removing cannabis from a schedule 1 drug. And when things sit in a schedule 1 drug, indicating that they have no medicinal value and that they’re harmful and cause high risk of addiction, you can’t ethically test that. And unfortunately, in the States, it still sits in that category.
And that’s a big part of the issue with pregnancy research and why so many things just say “don’t take it if you’re pregnant” is because ethically it is really hard to conduct a study with pregnant women.
100%. And what I find really interesting is that Zofran, which is often used in pregnancy for nausea and vomiting, we don’t blink an eye at it. And nor should we, we should never judge what a mother has to do to be okay in a pregnancy. It’s in the same category of pregnancy risk as a synthetic form of THC.
So, you know, where are studies? Where is our research? Though we don’t take Zofran and put it through the wringer like we do cannabis, where we’re really trying to find harm in it. We don’t do that. And that’s still linked to the stigmatization of cannabis. And it’s still so real, especially for women.
A 2019 survey was done across North America, 1500 women were surveyed, and 70% of them still felt that cannabis use was stigmatized, despite legalization. And 66% hid their use, despite it being for wellness reasons.
Yeah, lots and lots of work still to be done. That’s what having these conversations is all about, you know, we’re working on it. We’re providing you the listeners information so you can be having these conversations with your friends and family too.
Exactly, that is the Canna Queen Uprising.
Yes. So on that note, where can people find you if they want to reach out to you or see more of your different communities and things like that.
So you can reach out to me at thecannabisnurses.ca, that’s my website. On Instagram, I’m @Kala_CannaQueen. And that’s where you’re going to find a lot of information and feel free to just reach out to me via my website or Instagram.
If you do want the sort of the document that I have available for you to explore cannabis use in pregnancy and breastfeeding, I’ve started to compile a lot of good research and good resources that you can read and really start to make a choice that works for you, specifically for you. And I do have the option available to book a free like 15 minute phone call or Zoom Chat, where if you do want to just talk about it a little bit more in person, I am so open to talking to you about it, because I really wish when I was making those decisions I had somebody to talk to. Because they’re hard decisions to make and I acknowledge that. And so I want to provide you with education so that you can feel that you can have a good conversation with your practitioners and on from there.
Well thank you. So that’s available to everyone listening, we do have some previous UM Club episodes where we touch on the ECS (endocannabinoid system) within our Cannabis for Better Health episode and CBD. So I’ll link those as well and our Cannabis Guide. And so thank you again for being here and sharing all of your knowledge with us. I really appreciate it.
Thank you so much.
Thanks! And thank you for everyone listening, you can head on over to the Facebook group or group chat and we can dig into this a little bit more. Till next time, take care!
Thanks for listening this week! If you want to chat about this episode with me and other moms, check out the exclusive UM Club Facebook page! Thanks again, and we’ll see you next week!
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