What about weed for morning sickness?

One of the toughest things about pregnancy is morning sickness. And let’s be real, it isn’t just in the morning. For some pregnancies, morning sickness is fleeting and mild. And, for others it is severe leading to hospitalization and medical care.

I worked with a woman who during her second pregnancy ended up being hospitalized to treat the morning sickness. We worked on the 9th floor of a 19-storey office building. And by the time she got off the elevator at 8:30 every morning she was pale, clammy and dashing for the bathroom. And so the morning would continue with her in the bathroom more than she was at her desk. We all felt for her, and worried about her. She ended up needing some medical care for a few days in the hospital (and had a healthy baby a few months later).

Women have tried different things to manage morning sickness and science has tried to help.

Old home remedies for morning sickness have include quite the range of ideas:

Bad news for the 70 percent of pregnant women who experience nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: There is no truly reliable treatment for morning sickness. Authors of a Cochrane systematic review analyzed 27 studies involving more than 4,000 pregnant women and found that not a single commonly used remedy, including ginger, acupuncture, acupressure, vitamin B6 and anti-nausea drugs, could be deemed effective.

Parent Magazine, December 1, 2018

But, when/if you do experience morning sickness check in with your medical crew to talk about possible remedies. While the study indicates there is not a SINGLE remedy, different women may respond differently some remedies. But, always check the remedy’s safety with a physician because even herbs have a chemical/medicinal impact that might harm the fetus (see our blog about coffee and herbal teas)

Teratogens – toxic substances

It was believed, until the middle of the 20th century, the placenta would protect the fetus from harmful substances. As we started learning with Thalidomide, this isn’t true.

In the postwar era, sleeping pills and sedatives grew in popularity. One of these drugs, Thalidomide was prescribed around the world as being one of the safest sleeping aids because it was not a barbiturate. And it had other medicinal uses in treating other diseases.

Then, a physician began noticing something else about Thalidomide. It appeared to have an amazing effect in controlling morning sickness. Women (and their partners, and physicians) were delighted. And, for anyone who has endured morning sickness, I can guess you would be dreaming of a solution, too.

Thinking it was a miracle cure for morning sickness more women were prescribed the medicine and as babies started to be born, a tragic outcome unfolded.

Thalidomide caused physical birth defects.

Thalidomide was and is a teratogen. A toxic substance to the fetus. Thalidomide altered how the fetus grew – permanently.

There are many teratogens. Examples include prescription drugs (i.e. Accutane), some anti-psychotic medications, disease (i.e. German Measles), and environmental ones (i.e. lead, mercury, X-rays).

So, what about weed?

A couple of generations ago, women used weed to manage morning sickness. But, weed has changed and today’s chemical compounding of marijuana is resulting in a higher level of toxicity to the fetus.

While I was at a conference a couple of years ago, researchers were noticing a combination of birth differences associate with marijuana use during pregnancy. The emerging trends showed combinations of birth defects that were similar (but not the same ) to the use of alcohol during pregnancy.

At this point in time, the use of marijuana during pregnancy is not recommended (nor is alcohol) and research is ongoing.

So, to sum it up?

Make sure you have the best information possible to manage your morning sickness and talk honestly to your health care folks about life and what’s happening. This isn’t judgment. It’s about healthy experiences during pregnancy – yours and the baby’s.

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