cbd and pregnancy

CBD and Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Is it safe to take CBD  while Pregnancy? 

Nothing is more exciting than carrying a beautiful life inside of you, although there may be some heightened anxiety as your due date approaches. If you are a CBD aficionado or someone who has recently discovered the CBD lifestyle, there are still unanswered questions about this hot topic. Is it safe to use CBD while pregnant? 

The US Food and Drug Administration issued a preliminary advisory about CBD and pregnancy several years ago, which we will discuss in more detail below. The short answer is that there has been so little scientific research on the subject of CBD and pregnancy that most advice is to avoid CBD during pregnancy out of an abundance of caution, but that doesn’t really answer the question: is it safe for a pregnant woman to use CBD?

The most important takeaway is that because there are no definite answers right now, every woman must make her own decisions about taking CBD at every life stage, including while pregnant and nursing. First, before tackling the CBD question, let’s look at the effects of using full-strength cannabis with THC while pregnant.  


There have been a few studies and surveys of women who used cannabis while pregnant. Not a lot, but it’s more research than has been done on CBD and pregnancy. So it’s a good place to start. It’s a fact that some women use cannabis while pregnant. Exactly how many is hard to say, since all we know is from self-reported accounts.

A survey published in 2019 from information provided by more than 660,000 women living in Ontario, Canada indicated that nearly 10,000 of them reported using cannabis while pregnant. The survey indicated that preterm births occurred at twice the rate among cannabis users as non-uses, which is a good reason for expecting mothers to abstain from high-THC cannabis.1

Despite this sort of limited negative research, cannabis use during pregnancy appears to be on the rise. In 2002, the rate of pregnant women using cannabis was 3.4%. By 2017, that number had grown to 7.0%. And during the pandemic in 2020, that number grew to more than 8.1% of pregnancies.2

This trend of more cannabis use during pregnancies could correspond with a report from May 2020 that says that cannabis exposure during pregnancy does not necessarily lead to cognitive impairment in the baby.3 That’s just another clear signal that there’s no consensus opinion on the effects of full-strength cannabis on pregnancy. But until there is more data available, the FDA “strongly advises against” using cannabis during pregnancy.4 


While there has not been enough studies on THC-dominant cannabis use in pregnant women, there’s been even less research into using CBD-dominant hemp extract while pregnant. There remains a number of unanswered questions. Among them: can you safely use CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding?

One thing we know about breastfeeding is that THC is detectable in breast milk for six weeks after use.5 But what about CBD in breast milk? There’s just not been any research into that yet. And even if CBD is detectable in breast milk, is that good, bad, or irrelevant to the baby’s health? No one has the answers to those questions yet.


There are no straightforward answers right now about CBD and full spectrum hemp extract and their effects on the mother and baby during developing stages or how CBD might filter into breast milk. However, if you are considering using CBD during pregnancy, the FDA gives the same guidance that it does with cannabis use.

The FDA “strongly advises against” using CBD during pregnancy because at the time of writing its guidance in 2019, “There is no comprehensive research studying the effects of CBD on the developing fetus, pregnant mother, or breastfed baby.”5

Despite these warnings, it’s clear that a number of expecting mothers are deciding to use cannabis while pregnant or CBD during pregnancy. For those making these sorts of decisions, which CBD products are best for pregnant women?


For those who are looking for a CBD product during pregnancy, it’s important to consider the risks. Look for a product that might reduce the risk of exposing your developing baby to any potentially harmful effects of THC and other cannabinoids.

One important thing to consider is that as of 2021, the FDA has not yet regulated the CBD products industry. So the only federal standards that might apply to CBD product formulation is from the USDA Organic program, which only applies to CBD brands that voluntarily work to achieve the high standards set by the USDA to be considered certified organic.

All CBD consumers, and especially pregnant mothers, should only use products that are USDA certified organic to reduce the risk of exposure to contaminants or impurities in the products. But which CBD products are safe for pregnant women?

There are plenty of types of CBD products and ways of using CBD. It can get quite overwhelming, so we are just going to break it down by product for you! Along with this article and doing your own research, it is a good idea to talk with your doctor as well before making this important decision. 


CBD cream falls into the bigger category of CBD topicals, which is any cream, lotion, or skincare product that can be applied directly to the skin. CBD consumers rave about CBD creams being amazing for occasional pain relief and can be a great way to ease muscle pain after exercise-induced inflammation.

Why might CBD cream be a good choice during pregnancy? Because it appears that when topically applied, CBD and other cannabinoids don’t enter the bloodstream. That’s because cannabinoids do not appear to penetrate the skin’s water barrier, reducing the risk of exposing an unborn baby to cannabinoids. But these studies are not yet conclusive.6 


One of the most recognizable CBD products is CBD oil. The simple and quick way to soak up the medical benefits of cannabidiol with just a few drops under the tongue. There are many potential benefits of CBD oil, but is it safe to use CBD oil while pregnant?


Because of the lack of research and for the sake of your developing baby, Cornbread Hemp recommends following FDA advice and refraining from ingestible CBD during pregnancy. The use of topical CBD products appears to be much less risky for an expectant mother.


Now that we have reviewed some products and their different ways of finding a way into the body, we are back to the hot topic. CBD for pregnancy, why do it? What will it do? Will it benefit you and your baby, or could it negatively affect your child’s development? There is not enough research done to answer these questions. We hope there will be more research done in the future.


In 2019, the FDA did not distinguish between THC and CBD when it issued its notice that “strongly advised against” using either of these cannabinoids during pregnancy. And yet, the trends seem to be ignoring this strongly worded advice.  

If you’re considering using cannabis or hemp extract during pregnancy, we recommend using a CBD topical product that is USDA certified organic. That appears to be the least risky cannabinoid product that a pregnant woman can use.


While your body is literally growing another human being there will be discomfort and a heightened sense of worry to keep yourself safe and healthy. We know whether it’s your first or fifth baby, there will be a different set of side effects from each pregnancy.

However, being safe during pregnancy is the main goal. This is why we are going to continue to repeat to you: there is not a straightforward answer out there yet. We believe it is up to every parent to decide what is best for them and their child.


After this article, there are a few key takeaways we want you to think about, in terms of CBD and pregnancy.

There are many companies out there who cut corners and don’t take the necessary precautions to ensure their product is 100% free of pesticides and other possible contaminants. That’s why all CBD consumers, especially pregnant women, should only use USDA organic products. 

The CBD products that appear to pose the least risk to pregnant women are CBD topical products because they do not appear to enter the bloodstream. This is because cannabinoids are lipophilic, or “fat loving,” which means they don’t appear to penetrate the skin’s water barrier, according to available research.


At Cornbread Hemp, we know how stressful and taxing life can be on us sometimes, and we are here to help you through these times. New parents are consumed with lots of unanswered questions, and we want to answer as many of them as we can.

Although CBD has many potentially beneficial effects, it remains a risk for pregnant women until more research is done. If you choose to take CBD, be sure to select a top-quality product that is USDA certified organic!

About the Author
Jim Higdon, Co-Founder

Jim is a native of Lebanon, Kentucky. He holds degrees from Centre College, Brown University, and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Jim published Cornbread Mafia in 2012 before co-founding Cornbread Hemp. Full author bio here.


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