Marijuana during pregnancy can affect you and your baby.

Smoking Marijuana During Pregnancy

by Laura Wallace Henderson

While a street drug like marijuana may pose certain risks to your health, it can pose even greater danger to your developing baby. The best time to start planning for your baby is before conception. Creating a healthy environment within your womb includes eating a nutritious diet and foregoing the use of street drugs, including marijuana, during your pregnancy. Be honest with your doctor regarding your use of drugs.

1. Marijuana

Marijuana comes from a plant called Cannabis sativa. Common street names for this drug include pot, hashish, weed, reefer and grass. Smoking marijuana affects several parts of your brain that control your memory, coordination, sense of pleasure and your perception of time.

2. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your baby goes through intricate stages of development. Normal pregnancies last about 40 weeks from the beginning of your last menstrual period. Many factors, including maternal health, nutrition and lifestyle choices can affect your baby's development during pregnancy.

3. Process

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly called THC, is the active chemical ingredient in marijuana. When you smoke marijuana, your lungs pass THC into your bloodstream, which then carries this chemical to your brain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana may make you feel relaxed, thirsty and hungry, as well as cause loss of motor coordination, distorted perception and an increase in your heart rate. Like many other substances you eat and drink, THC crosses the placenta and enters your baby's bloodstream.

4. Warnings

Marijuana increases the levels of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in the bloodstream, resulting in a reduction in the amount of oxygen your baby receives. According to the American Pregnancy Association, smoking marijuana while you are pregnant can increase your chances of delivering a premature baby or a low birth-weight baby. This street drug might also increase your risk of miscarriage. If you smoke marijuana during your pregnancy, you may increase your chances of having a child who experiences behavioral or learning problems.

5. Considerations

Some studies on the relationship of marijuana smoke and pregnancy show mixed results, possibly due to test subjects using other illegal drugs and abusing alcohol. There are some concerns about the effects on maternal marijuana use affecting children as they continue to grow into adolescence, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. After giving birth, continue to abstain from marijuana while breastfeeding your baby. THC can pass through your milk to your baby in a higher concentration than the amount in your bloodstream, possibly impairing your baby's motor development.

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