I receive a lot of questions about women using cannabis for pregnancy and postpartum related symptoms and for menstrual cramps, body aches, etc. from mamas, doulas, and midwives. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet, so it is no wonder so many women are shy about their consumption. Most of the cannabis industry is marketing its products to young, single males when it’s actually mothers who make and influence the health decisions for everyone in her familiy. I am confident, however, that more research is being done on the benefits of cannabis on women’s health and thus more education will follow.
Nevertheless, here are THREE important things you need to know (there’s more):
1- There is not sufficient research to prove the benefits or harm of cannabis on pregnant women and/or on her unborn baby! However, there is medical evidence that has proven that even when the fetus is as tiny as two cells, it has an endocannabinoid system with receptors that binds to cannabinoids present in cannabis, such as CBD, to promote the growth and function of other body systems. Many pregnant women who have used cannabis during pregnancy have gone on to birth healthy, full term babies. In places like Jamaica, for example, women have reported heavy use of cannabis during pregnancy with no complications or side effects. The other research that does exist, is highly flawed.
2- If you are considering using cannabis while you are pregnant, talk to your doctor or midwife. If you do use Cannabis and you are pregnant, practice safe consumption. If you choose not to, that's great. Don't shame other women for their choice, opinion or thoughts about using cannabis while pregnant, especially if you lack proper information.
3- Many women have experienced relief from common pregnancy concerns such as pain relief, nausea, insomnia, hormonal and mood imbalances, the list goes on. People who are pregnant and are unable to take prescription medication to manage their mental health, also use cannabis to treat depression and anxiety. It's often the healthier alternative. Keep in mind also, that using cannabis requires making an informed decision, like many other decisions that women have to make during pregnancy and it is important to talk to your doctor. If your doctor is not aware of your consumption and for whatever reason does a drug test on you and your baby, the situation may not end well. However, if you are informed, and practicing safe consumption: a registered patient, using organic cannabis, medicating with an appropriate strain and application then there would be no reason for a doctor to suspect child negligence or drug abuse.
If you need assistance talking to your doctors about safe cannabis use during pregnancy and postpartum, I offer this service to my birth doula clients and to people interested in becoming registered medical cannabis patients. It can be a pretty intense conversation, especially when your provider isn't supportive (or informed) and it's good to be prepared with factual information about cannabis void of the stereotypes and misinformation often directed at Black mothers. To learn what cannabis strains, products, and methods of consumption work best for you and your lifestyle, schedule a consultation with Melanie Julion, HCHD.
The Cannabis Doula, a CTU Certified, Hyno-Birth Doula & Childbirth Educator
This is my revolution. I'm pulling my seat up to the table. I found out I was pregnant, for the first time, while cultivating medical cannabis for a Black-owned cultivation center in DC, I had to make a really tough decision. I didn't know how I would coexist as a Black woman in the cannabis industry and now, a young Black mom in this space. There was no way. The taboo was way too apparent. The stereotypes, the misinformation, the propaganda and the stigma is all too real in Black communities. For example, you'll likely find that "there isn't enough research done on the benefits or harm of cannabis during pregnancy" yet cannabis received official medical recognition as a childbirth aid in the 1850s.
Essentially, the hard labor of cultivation was causing me a lot of physical stress (lifting 5 gallon buckets of water all morning is not easy when you have morning sickness) and the grow environment wasn't safe. So I resigned from my job, after really feeling like I had no choice. I was pregnant and isolated in a male dominated industry and no way to support or advocate for myself and my needs as a pregnant person. I resigned from doing something I'd wanted to do for so long--GROW Cannabis!
From there, I was drawn to birthwork where I began to cultivate my love of birth and supporting mamas and babies. Having little support during my pregnancy, especially in the first five months while I was working at the cultivation center, I became empowered to advocate for myself and other expectant families. One thing I've noticed since starting this journey, is the shame present in mothers who do decide to use cannabis. And there is a lot of us. And a lot of shame. Cannabis is the most used "illicit drug" by pregnant women. So, my questions now became: why are we so ashamed? So many women, mothers, I've personally worked with and talked to use cannabis to treat all types of pregnancy concerns. From severe nausea, to pain relief, to postpartum depression! First, I had to do a lot of my own self-acceptance when it came to cannabis use. I do consume cannabis, medically and recreationally, and as a black woman, mama, birthworker, and cannabis entrepreneur, I stand by that. &I applaud other women who are choose to. 👏🏾 So often Black mom's get discouraged from seeking doula support for the fear they have of being judged for their consumption!
In order do my best work as a doula, I think it is so important to bring my whole self to the table, so that I can truly advocate for us. I've been working tirelessly to combine my knowledge and experience in the cannabis industry and my work as a doula. I recently realized I've been educating pregnant people about cannabis this whole time. Moms need access to safe cannabis. Moms need education on methods of consumption. We need to talk about harm reduction. Families need support in order to talk to their doctors about their cannabis use. We need safe spaces as black women without threat of our babies being taken from us for cannabis consumption. Black women deserve the same respect as other women who use cannabis while pregnant. In one article I read recently, it described white women reportedly using "marijuana cigarettes" and black women as "smoking joints" during pregnancy. That language there is fucked up. Black women are criminalized for illicit drug use during pregnancy and white women are revolutionary hippie moms using the latest alternative medicine, or trailblazing into a male dominated industry. Not while I'm here. I'm taking up space. I will be seen and heard on this topic, with the hopes of providing education to break stigmas and stereotypes. We deserve birth equity and cannabis equity at the same damn time.
The prohibition of cannabis and the War on Drugs directly impacted Black women and our families. I believe that cannabis can potentially restore our health and well-being individually and collectively. Becoming a doula, for me, is about selflessly caring for birthing people, being nonjudgmental of people's birth choices, and providing them with or connecting them to evidence based information and education. I'm providing the care that I desperately needed as a first time mom. Unbiased, holistic birth support. I'm creating herb and cannabis infused goods for the body, bath, and home especially catering to women's health, pregnancy, and postpartum. I'll be collaborating with other women run brands in the cannabis space and other birthworkers with the hopes of creating honest dialogue and thorough educational and eventful workshops.
Thank you for your continued support. I'll be sharing more of my experience via Patreon.