Mom refuses to give up marijuana while breastfeeding

marijuanaCrystal Cain is a Portland, Oregon pot-smoking, breast-feeding mama, who had to battle to breastfeed her baby. Cain had a baby girl named Karissma last week at Oregon Health Science University. Karissma was born premature and put in an incubator, but things are looking good for Karissma. Cain says, "They took her off of all of her breathing machines /// and they say she's doing absolutely fine." Cain knows how beneficial breast milk is for a baby's immune system so she always planned on breastfeeding, but when the baby was born, hospital staff was refusing to let her. Why? Because Cain is a medical marijuana cardholder. She smoked during her pregnancy and she plans to continue smoking while breastfeeding.

What do you think happened when the hospital and Cain disagreed on the matter of breastfeeding while smoking? Who do you think won?


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Cain smoked marijuana during pregnancy to treat nausea and anxiety on the advice of her midwife. While pregnant, she wasn't worried that THC, the part of marijuana that makes you high, would get to her baby via her bloodstream and now that the baby is born, she also isn't worried about THC being in her breast milk. "There are several studies that indicate that it doesn't. Your body automatically kind of filters it," she says.

As for the hospital's position, Dr. Charles Kilo, the chief medical officer at OHSU says:

We ... don't want to be caught in a situation where a mother continues to use and says that we never gave her information on it, never informed about the risks, and so it's really a way of documenting that the parents acknowledge the risks. And we can't stop her from using it.

In the end, the hospital had Cain sign a release saying that she smokes weed and was advised of the potential risks. Of course, I'm paraphrasing.

Normally, I would err on the side of caution and say stay away from any questionable substances while pregnant or breastfeeding, but in Cain's case and in the case of marijuana, I don't feel that way. 

Certainly I have a bias. I don't know Cain's medical history, but if she is still using the marijuana to treat anxiety, I say more power to her. I suffered from severe anxiety during pregnancy and had to be medicated. If marijuana worked for me, I would much rather use it than all the synthetic junk I'm still pumping into my body to deal with anxiety. And yes, I breastfed while medicated and yes, I was advised of the risks, but it's strange to me that all my doctors really went out of their way to make me feel like taking Prozac or Zoloft while nursing was really not something they were worried about whereas the folks treating Cain are so concerned about plain old weed that is way more natural.

I'm sure that with the increase of marijuana as a medical treatment, this issue is going to come up again and again, so let's get some research and studies going--like the research and studies that have been done for the medications I took while pregnant and while nursing, so we have some hard facts to point at.

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: parenting  breastfeeding  baby  breast milk  marijuana