CBD while pregnant: Is it safe?

If you are pregnant, watch out for the products you use. There is not enough evidence that products like CBD are safe for you.

A Black pregnant woman

Key takeaways:

  • The CBD and other health organizations have not approved the use of CBD and CBD-products for pregnant people as they may not be safe for use during pregnancy.
  • Studies indicate that CBD use during pregnancy can affect reproductive and fetal brain development, leading to neurological defects.
  • If you were taking CBD before realizing you are pregnant, the safest thing to do would be to discontinue its use and then consult a medical professional to express your concerns and get advice on what to do next.

Cannabidiol (CBD), an extract of the cannabis plant, is marketed mainly as a safe plant-sourced remedy for an endless list of conditions. Some use it to manage anxiety, nausea, pain, and sleep disorders, without getting intoxicated.

If CBD is as effective or safe as the health gurus claim, could pregnant people use it to manage morning sickness and other symptoms? Probably not. We’ll examine why prenatal CBD isn’t the best idea and the possible risks for the expecting mom and baby below.

Why are pregnant people considering CBD oil?

You look and feel different during pregnancy, but not all changes are pleasant. Many pregnant people may experience stomach problems, sleep disturbances, and nausea. Everyone has a unique experience, so while some may have mild symptoms, others may be more severe.

However, you must be extra careful when choosing home remedies for pregnancy symptoms. The ideal choice should be effective without risking the development of the fetus or threatening the pregnancy.

With the fast rise of CBD in health and wellness, some pregnant people may consider it for relief. Even though CBD comes from plants and is marketed as a natural supplement, that doesn't mean you should take it while you're pregnant. 

Can you use CBD while pregnant?

The FDA and many health experts advise pregnant people to avoid cannabis and all its products, including CBD. Although many claim CBD is safe, it’s best to be cautious and not use it throughout pregnancy. 

Are CBD-infused products safer for pregnancy?

The FDA warning doesn’t exclude CBD herbal teas or other infused products. These CBD beverages may be easier to integrate into your life but not necessarily safer for pregnant people.

Can you use topical CBD while pregnant?

CBD lotions, balms, and other topical products have low bioavailability. This means very little of what is applied to the skin gets into your blood. Most of it is absorbed and performs its effects locally at the application site.

Strictly speaking, there isn’t evidence that topical CBD is safer in pregnancy. Consider moving all your CBD bottles to the back of your medicine cabinet, including the lotions and balms.

CBG is fast gaining popularity in the cannabis market. Find out the difference between CBD and CBG.

Why is CBD unsafe during pregnancy?

Using CBD during pregnancy is risky because it can cross the placental barrier. This can affect fetal development and threaten the pregnancy. Here’s what research says about the risks of using CBD while pregnant:

1. Not enough research

Even though the FDA and other health organizations do not approve the use of CBD and CBD-products during pregnancy, some pregnant people consider using CBD supplements, thinking they are safe.

One of the best reasons to steer clear of CBD supplements during pregnancy is that we don't know enough about them. The scientific literature on how CBD oil affects pregnancy and fetal development is limited. And the few studies available are on animal models, so they don’t perfectly represent how the human body works. 

2. Potential harm

Studies on how CBD affects pregnancy show a possible health risk. Researchers found that CBD may affect reproductive development in male fetuses. While this study may be old, there isn't any new evidence to counter its findings.  

Another research revealed that maternal CBD use might affect genes essential for developing neurons and synapses in the fetal brain. These neurological defects may extend throughout the offspring’s life, even without additional CBD use. 

But wait—there’s more. CBD could be just as bad as alcohol during pregnancy. Scientists observed symptoms seen in fetal alcohol syndrome, such as philtrum deficiency and eye defects, from high doses of prenatal CBD.

3. Presence of contaminants

CBD supplements aren’t FDA-approved, so they don’t face strict regulations. This is a serious concern for pregnant people, as studies show that some CBD supplements contain toxins, including heavy metals like lead and nickel. Lead toxicity in pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage and may affect the baby’s brain development. 

Poorly labeled CBD products also pose a risk to maternal and fetal health. Some supplements don’t provide correct data on how much CBD or THC they contain.

In 2020, the FDA evaluated 102 CBD products and found that 49% had THC. THC may affect the fetus's mental development and increase the risk of low birth weight and stillbirth. Offspring exposed to THC in the womb may have a higher risk of developing sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and psychosis.

What to do if you were taking CBD before you realized you were pregnant

If you’ve been using CBD and suddenly discovered that you’re pregnant, don’t panic. Many people don’t realize they’re pregnant till after a missed period. By this time, you’re probably already a few weeks pregnant. First, discontinue using your CBD product, then schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Discuss your concerns with your doctor, sharing how often you use CBD and how much you usually take. 

Couples actively trying to conceive may consider stopping CBD because we know little about its effect on fertility. But if you must keep using this supplement, speak with your doctor. 

When is it safe to resume CBD after childbirth?

Congratulations! Your bundle of joy is here, but if you’re already reaching for CBD oil, you may want to slow down. The FDA warns that CBD could get into breast milk and cause unexpected side effects in the baby.

If you're nursing your baby, consider waiting until after weaning them off breastmilk to return to CBD. Non-breastfeeding moms may start using CBD sooner, but only after getting their doctor’s approval. 


Current studies on how CBD affects pregnancy are limited, and the FDA is working to gather as much information as possible. Till we know more, experts advise pregnant people to avoid all forms of CBD oil as it may affect proper fetal development. If you realize you're pregnant after taking CBD, stop using the supplement and consult your doctor. Also, avoid using CBD while breastfeeding, as it may get into breast milk.