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A couple of weeks ago, after speaking with a handful of receptionists in an effort to find a new primary care physician, I realized there must be a large number of people who are unaware cannabis is the technical term for marijuana.  I discovered this when I asked for the doctor’s stance on cannabis use, and the reply from the other end of the line was “huh?” or “what?” followed by a short explanation from me.  I’m still surprised physician staff in a legal state do not know, and do not use scientific terminology.

Proper term use helps combat the stigma associated with cannabis consumption.  This is important for a number of reasons, one highlighted in mid July by the Colorado Board of Health’s failure to add Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to the list of debilitating conditions accepted for medical marijuana prescriptions despite the recommendation to do so from the Chief Medical Officer.  Preconceived notions should not dictate law or interfere with personal medical decisions, but they are exactly what caused the Colorado Board of Health to decline the addition of PTSD to conditions treated with medical marijuana, or simply cannabis.  Otherwise, the board members would have listened to the research that shows remarkable results.  Too often when lawmakers and people outside of the cannabis community hear “marijuana”, or even “medical marijuana”, images of “reefer madness” are conjured up.  The stereotypes, and frankly threats, follow.

This decision to ignore the recommendations of medical professionals and patients already has a serious impact on women and particularly mothers because according to the US Department of Veteran affairs, women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD than men, and half of all women experience a traumatic event which results in PTSD.  The United States Census figures 81% of women were mothers by age 40 to 44 as of 2010.  

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The consumption of cannabis is taboo, but no group of people are more hesitant to discuss their use than pregnant and breastfeeding women, a class of people who already face extreme challenges.  The reason we are hesitant is we face more than snide remarks and “side-eyed” looks.  We face more than discrimination.  We face the fear of losing our children.  Yes, I said “we”.  I am a cannamama that currently nurses my eighteen-month-old daughter, and used cannabis for about nine months of my breastfeeding relationship with my ten-year-old son.

Mothers should not fear losing their children because they choose cannabis to treat their ailments.  Months of government involvement in personal lives is not a good use of limited and precious resources meant to protect children.  Arbitrary rules and the whims of individuals should not rip families apart, but this is the current system that deals with reports of mothers that use cannabis.  I speak with women often about their experiences with child protective services (CPS) and the investigations that begin moments after giving birth.  Many of the stories sound familiar to my own.

I was handed a urine analysis cup before I was taken to recovery after the birth of my daughter in January of 2014.  I returned my cup to the nurse full of blood.  Meanwhile, another nurse rushed my newborn’s meconium to a lab to be tested as well.  Parental consent is not necessary.  Our bodily fluids and the bodily fluids of our children do not belong to us according to hospital staff.

The following day, a hospital social worker invaded my time with my family and new baby to spread propaganda and fear.  It was all very shady.  My husband and I were questioned at length, but kept in the dark as to what would happen next.  On the day we were to go home, a nurse told us that we would have to wait to be discharged until after we saw the social worker again.  All I wanted to do was get home and snuggle in my bed with my newborn, but instead we waited in fear.  We remained in a state of apprehension before a nurse came in and said we could leave.  It was horribly weird.

My husband remembers feeling uncomfortable and threatened.  It was clear they were ready to rip a newborn from a mother’s arms for using cannabis although I had refused pain medicine during labor, delivery, and recovery.  I didn’t have more than Ibuprofen and maybe a single Vicodin (I’d have to check my medical records to be exact) to relieve the pain from second degree tears and a hemorrhage the doctors had difficulty stopping, but the state was worried I was a druggie because I use cannabis.  It was quickly apparent to us that my husband’s sobriety, my insistence to protect my rights, and dedication to our baby’s health were top factors in the social worker’s choice not to pursue an investigation.

I’m not telling my story for sympathy.  I’m over it.  I have my precious daughter and CPS left us alone after the initial visit.  We are happy as can be.  However, this is not the outcome for every cannamama, and stories like mine are common.  These experiences should not happen to any woman that has just birthed new life simply because they chose cannabis as opposed to a prescription drug especially when the majority of these women, myself included, disclosed our choice of our own volition.

It’s not the best policy to treat honesty so harshly.  Because of my experience and the experiences of other cannamamas, I recommend lying where this matter is concerned when pregnant cannamamas ask my advice.  Women are afraid of their healthcare providers.  These are the same women with doctors who thrust Phenergan, Zofran, Reglan, Meloxicam, Flexeril, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Percocet, Fentanyl, Procardia, Amoxicillin, Prednisone, Tramadol, Dilaudid, Morphine, Celexa, Valium, Lexapro (need I go on?), and endless other pharmaceutical medications plus over-the-counter drugs at them.  I mean, not to get stupid, but cannabis has caused less deaths than Tylenol.

Stop treating us like chronically addicted drug abusers.  We aren’t, and our children are not in danger.  Most of us are good parents invested in raising quality human beings.  We get on the floor and play with our kids, we interact with them and enjoy watching them grow.  We worry about their health and education and all the other things good parents that don’t use cannabis worry over.

People seem to be under the impression that I have just done a hit of acid. I don’t know how to explain to the general public I’m totally normal other then my bullshit tolerance has gone WAY up.” – Elizabeth S., Denver, CO

A couple of days ago, someone in my secret Facebook group for cannabis-consuming peaceful parents shared a recent Cosmopolitan article written by cannamama, Lea Grover.  I agree with her, but she only admits to using occasionally when she is stressed as if to appeal to her readers and prevent harsh judgement.  I’m putting it all out there.  I “wake and bake“.  Using cannabis is part of my daily routine like brushing my teeth and flossing, and has been for more than half my life.

Cannabis saved my pregnancy with my son, made my pregnancy with my daughter tolerable, and helps me in my day to day life.  I don’t care if you believe me.  I care that you leave us alone.  I know what cannabis has done for me, and I know women that credit cannabis as their savior too.  I also know women forced to stop breastfeeding.  I know women forced to take parenting classes.  I know women that have had their children removed from their home.  I can’t remain silent any longer. The misplaced judgement must stop.  I expect critics, but I’m tired of hiding.  I know a slew of women tired of hiding too.  I come out of the cannabis closet for them.

If you are a nasty critic you may be wondering how my ten-year-old son, product of my first pregnancy in which I chose cannabis over Phenergan and Zofran to treat hyperemesis gravidarum, turned out.  I am proud to report this year he enters fifth grade and beginning his fifth school year as an HGT-identified (highly gifted and talented) student.  This means he is part of the one percent of the district’s student population that qualify based on “demonstrated achievement”.  He plays tackle football, performed in several Disney plays with a local theater troupe, gets along well with his peers, enjoys golf and reading…he’s already completed the Harry Potter series and read over a million words last year (that’s just what they tracked at his school and gave him an award for)…he loves math, and wants to pursue a STEM career.  I could go on and on.

As I have said many times in many conversations, I wish my son was involved in a study on the effects of cannabis on children exposed in utero and through breastmilk in order to help debunk the myths.  My daughter could be studied too as she currently exhibits similar attributes.  She amazes me daily with her abilities at this young age.

Coming out of the cannabis closet as a mother that uses cannabis and breastfeeds will impact my life professionally and personally.  My Grandmother-in-law is already concerned my husband and I will get another visit from CPS followed by threats of taking our children.

If you are a nursing cannamama, please know that you are not alone.

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***The website – www.poliscimommy.com – may provide general information about cannabis use. I am not a doctor or a lawyer. I cannot give you medical or legal advice. I do not warrant or assume legal liability or responsibility. If you, the reader, or anyone else has a medical or legal concern, I urge you to seek professional care from a licensed individual.

Again, the information on my website is not intended to provide diagnoses, prevent, or cure any disease. In case of any health concern, you should always consult a licensed doctor or trusted health care provider.

i encourage people to change the law as opposed to break it. If you are not in a location where cannabis is legal, I do not warrant or assume legal liability or responsibility for your actions.

These are my opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints. I make no warranties or guarantees, expressed or implied.***

 

 

 

35 thoughts on “CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed

      • My oldest is 14 and i smoked during my pregnancy with her before i would eat(1 or 2 small hits) from 2 months to 7 months due to nausia day and night. It was the only way i could keep food down. I wish i knew more then about how harmful it wasnt because i suffered without it. I was so paranoid it would do harm. But my daughter is amazingly smart, beautiful, kind hearted and musically talented. Thang u for putting your story out there.

  1. With out cannabis I can get on the floor and play with My 13mo I have arthritis in my hips knees and feet its my best course of action in pain management. It gives me the ability to breastfeedd my baby without pumping her full of the pain meds they prescribe.

    • That’s wonderful for you that cannabis allows you to enjoy your child without the known negative side effects of many pharmecueticals.

      My point was not that cannamamas need cannabis to get on the floor and play with our kids. My point is cannamamas are not lazy and useless parents uninvolved with their children’s lives. The opposite is true. We are just as active with our children, and many users report an added sense of patience.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • I think ‘Rachel’ just made some typos above but meant: without cannabis she wouldn’t be able to get on the floor to play with her kids because the pain from the arthritis would prevent it.

  2. Pingback: Cannamama: I Breastfeed and Use Cannabis | | Panic Free 411

  3. Thanks for this post. I smoked throughout my last pregnancy with my son who is now 3. I guess I wasn’t drug tested during because no one ever said a word, but I know of other women who have gone through the CPS thing just for cannabis. I recently started a blog hoping to be a voice for cannamamas as well. So glad I found this page, and I’d love to join that group! Wake and bake mama here too. Actually relocating to Oregon to grow very soon. 😉

  4. Thank you for this! I’m currently 33 weeks pregnant and I have CHOSEN to not use only because if I did, I would be falling asleep all the time. I’m already in a relaxed state, due to the fact that cannabis is what it is, I never went through withdrawal or anything. While on maternity leave I will be on the job hunt, so I feel obligated to still not use until after I find a new job, just because of the drug testing. However, I’m positive I will find something soon, so that I can go back to it. I was definitely a cannamama while I breast fed my 3 year old, and she’s in perfect health and sometimes I feel knows to much for her age. Thanks again for putting this out there, we are normal people with normal lives…

  5. Thanks for sharing! I recently lost a lifelong friend over a vaccine debate that I never should have participated in, for mostly the same reasons we lie about cannabis use. After our falling out, the “friend” threatened to send cops to my house, and then started slandering me on social media, demonizing me for using cannabis. Meanwhile, I know she is seeing a therapist and taking prescription drugs and therefore not breastfeeding her newborn. I’m not judging, just saying, in a world where everyone has an opinion, it’s scary how arbitrarily we each decide what is and isnt acceptable behavior, and then try to enforce that opinion on others to the point where we are tearing families apart. So sad.

  6. Anonymous Comment
    “i am a social worker for child welfare my husband works in the industry here. we moved here from california a year ago. we owned our own dispensary there which was closed by the feds in 2004 and later an extract company. all of our family and friends are are involved one way or another in that world. i moved because i thought we would be safe here i could live our life openly without fear of loosing my job or kids. i didnt have to teach my kids they had to lie about what there dad does and to a point thats true but it also i have found its not. people are loosing their kids over herb. i have a case now where a newborn was removed for herb. thats it!!!! i am trying hard to fight fr this baby to go home but our legal system feels marijuana users cant be parents. we safety plan for meth or alcohol but we didnt for herb. i feel like a horrible person and if i didnt a have a ton of kids to support i would quit. my soul aches for this family. but they are not alone other families have lost their kids for herb. please be careful what info you share with dr’s, neighbors, community people even friends. not everyone can be trusted and some will ruin your life. i love the article by the way and thanks for posting”

  7. Pingback: No Apologies for Passions, Part II of CannaMamas Need the Freedom to Breastfeed | PoliSciMommy Project

  8. A note from presidential candidate 2016 Denise Bedio. It is not the governments place to control how a person is reated for an illness. Marijuana has many medical uses for people with cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain, and more. The reason our government doesn’t make marijuana legal is also due to their special interests. It is seriously a great plant that would help save our environment and our economy. We need to put aside our differences and come together for the good of humanity. God Bless America! Land of the free and home of the brave! I am Denise Bedio. Join me. Let’s take America back! Bedio For President 2016. Read more at http://denisebedio.com/marijuana/.

  9. Just experienced this myself. I was told first thing upon seeing the doctor at the hospital I was required to give blood to test for THC since I had a history of use. (I told my doctor I had smoked during my pregnancy think it’s Colorado I don’t need to lie. Think again.) If I had it in my system I was not allowed to breastfeed my newborn. My labor stopped. Her bedside manor was awful and my blood pressure sky rocketed. I asked to see the written policy and was only given fear propaganda that had no proof just statstics and studies that said nothing. I was harassed by the doctor over my refusal to understand the dangers. She even told me ‘if you were using heroin we would still let you breastfeed but since it’s THC we just can’t.’ My nurses were both amazing and supportive of my choices and both believed in Medical Marijuanas uses. The doctor told them they were not allowed to help me get my baby to latch but they still helped me. It’s my baby my choice. I was prepared to fight them ripping her out of my arms but I allowed her to naturally find my breast and feed in the delivery room because I knew it was right. But the fear I felt knowing CPS was now involved was a burden at such a happy time. Tarnished the memory. But I am happy to say my CPS case is closed( I lied to them) and my little darling is a healthy 5 week old baby. She even was over her birth weight at her one week check up. My milk was that harmful!

    • Your statement, “think again” couldn’t be more accurate. Colorado cannamamas face the same challenges cannamamas in illegal states face despite the legal status of cannabis in our state. For the record, they can’t stop us from breastfeeding our babies at the hospital after birth. It’s a scare tactic. It disgusts me they said that to you about heroin though. It’s really not too surprising given the amount of women that breastfeed after taking prescribed opiates legally without doctors batting an eye. I’m glad your nurses were so great. They sure can make a world of difference. Hopefully with a lot of hard work, our daughters will not experience the same tarnished memory.

  10. Wow! I’m so glad you shared this. My fiancé and I had a VERY similar experience in the hospital. I too had an all natural birth, no medicine. They took and tested my son’s blood and poop all to find out what I was afraid to share..then of course CPS came, told our family members who came to visit to leave the room and talked to us like we are irresponsible parents and drug addicts; handing us pamphlets about the negative affects of marijuana and how I’m hurting my baby. Cannibis has been a key element in getting through a rough and nauseating pregnancy, and also keeps the relationship with my fiancé fresh and exciting. I never in a million years thought that just hours after bringing my beautiful, healthy child into the world, I would be subjected to such treatment. The whole time we were in the hospital I was not allowed to breastfeed my son and he missed out on the amazing benefits of colostrum, and was given strictly formula. We were supposed to be discharged on Valenties Day, but we were told that I was the only one allowed to be discharged..and my son would remain a patient; we would then be considered his guests. After hours of ambiguous answers, tears, and my fiancé calling CPS to get a case worker to “approve” our house..we finally were all able to leave together. This was the most emotionally draining day of my life, I got home and just held my son and cried. I’m so happy that I’m not alone, and that my story is one of many.

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  13. To the author of this article- question!!! I am 20 weeks pregnant, and avid user of marijuana (smoked) prior to finding out I was preggo, and quit when I found out around 6 weeks. I had severe constant morning sickness until week 12 when i was rushed to ER with severe dehydration from 11 times of throwing up one night. At the hospital, of course, I was prescribed Diclegis which gave me knots in my stomach but I did not know what else to do. I suffered for so long that I was desperate and although marijuana was always on the back of my mind, I couldn’t get myself to use it because I don’t know where it is sourced from etc. I weaned myself down from 3 pills, to 2, to 1, and just stopped altogether last night with the Diclegis but have had morning sickness for the past 3 mornings due to it getting out of my system. I do not care, I do not want to start the Diclegis again. I did not feel myself and felt depressed over taking the medication. (i am an herbal enthuisast RN, who is having a home water birth and not into Western medication), still cant believe me, someone who does not take tylenol, took Diclegis while preggo but as i said i was desperate. I would like to know HOW you used it (smoke, oil???) and also what your source was??? I dont want to buy from just anyone because you just do not know how clean it is. Please get back to me, thanks for your time. crying as i read this article.

  14. Pingback: What Breastfeeding Moms Should Know Before Smoking Pot

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