Women Turn To Internet Support Groups For Information On Cannabis And Pregnancy, Study Finds

It’s no secret that moms and pregnant women are scrutinized when it comes to cannabis use.

Since it is unethical to study or experiment on pregnant women, and also because of the moratorium on cannabis research in the US for the past 50 years, there is little concrete data available to show how weed in impact on the health of pregnant women and their offspring.

One place moms turn to when they have questions or concerns about cannabis is the internet. The safety and anonymity of online support groups give mothers a retreat from the judgment women receive from society at large and within doctors’ offices.

“The disagreement regarding the use of cannabis during pregnancy between national health organizations and scientific evidence has left expecting mothers seeking safety information for themselves,” wrote the authors of the new study on cannabis and pregnancy. “A lack of provider counseling on the use of cannabis during pregnancy leaves mothers hoping to seek safety information themselves.”

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If a woman is honest with her nurse or doctor about using cannabis, in many states, they can drug test her without her consent. She can then have Child Protective Services perform welfare checks on her while in the hospital and at home. She may have to go on a list of “negligent women,” depending on the state. This title has long been confirmed by moms who use cannabis and are working to destroy the plant. As more weed-friendly moms come out of the woodwork or emerge from their safe vacuum in plain sight, harsh discrimination continues.

In a recent review entitled “’Ganja Mamas’: Online discussion about cannabis use during pregnancy,” scientists from New York University and the School of Nursing at the University of Miami studied the content of comments and posts within a support group on whatto súil.com called “Ganja Mamas.” The study’s researchers are Cynthia Lebron, from the University of Miami’s School of Nursing and Health Studies; Vanessa Morales, University of Miami School of Medicine; Shantal Saenz, New York University; and Denise Vidot from the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies and the University of Miami School of Medicine.

A small group of 131 women were studied as part of the review. It looked at the content of the 151 original messages and 1260 corresponding comments posted over a 7-day period. The results show that people are looking for information and simply have nowhere else to go, and create their own safe space online to ask questions.

4.7% of pregnant women in the US admit to using cannabis, according to data provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration back in 2019. Among women in eight states who had a recent live birth, 9.8% reported that they used cannabis before pregnancy, 4.2% during pregnancy, and 5.5% after pregnancy, a 2020 study found. But self-reported estimates may be low and reflect half or less than reality. Self-reporting in a doctor’s office, when the truth is that CPS is knocking on your door, means that many women feel they cannot be completely honest in that environment.

“Online support forums allow mothers who use cannabis to ask questions and receive answers from other mothers who have experienced similar situations, especially those who live in their state,” the study authors wrote. “Mothers asked for specific geographic experiences, advice about testing, and involvement of Child Protective Services as well as advice on the amount and different methods of using cannabis during pregnancy.”

The study’s findings dig deeper into what expectant mothers are asking for in anonymous online forums. “Top topics members sought information on were testing, state-specific issues, postpartum, child protective services (CPS), hospital-specific issues, birth announcements, methods of cannabis use, quitting , breastfeeding/pumping, pregnancy symptoms, mental illness. health, general health and pregnancy, and the extent of cannabis use.” Among the clustered responses from women, the researchers found conversations centered around, “congratulations and relief, and concealing the use and symptoms of cannabis.”

Sciencedirect“Ganja Mamas”: An online discussion about the use of cannabis during pregnancy

Harvard professor and primary care physician Dr. Peter Grinspoon says he is “very cautious” about any substances for pregnant women because there is little solid research. “I do not advise anyone to use cannabis for pregnancy or breastfeeding unless there is a serious medical reason, if what you prescribed would be more harmful.”

Studies that found cannabis harmful to infants or children in utero often ignore factors that come with the use of cannabis: tobacco, alcohol, and poor diet due to poverty. “We have very little clear data that proves the harms of cannabis and pregnancy,” says Dr. Grinspoon. “At the same time, we don’t know if it’s safe.”

Medical professionals are often cautious when it comes to pregnancy because there are no studies on the results of weed use in utero. Low birth weight is commonly reported as one of the possible side effects. One study deleted the data on cannabis as a cause of low birth weight in infants. It found that it was impossible to tease our cannabis out from “other psychosocial and behavioral factors including stress, smoking and late or no prenatal care.”

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