December 06, 2022

Pregnancy is one of the most delicate times in a woman’s life, especially when considering the far-reaching biological and hormonal changes that come with it. Beyond these changes, many women experience significant discomfort that is resistant to many forms of recommended pain relievers. Pregnant mothers, thus, are left with very few options for natural remedies and pain relief.

That’s why many expectant moms often seek out therapeutics that address the unique pains and discomforts that come with pregnancy, and cannabidiol (CBD) is no exception. Comprehensive research studying CBD's role in pain relief is promising, and the medical community is abuzz with all of its potential applications.

It’s hard to miss CBD-containing products, since it seems like they’re popping up everywhere – from CBD lotions, energy drinks, salves, oils, and sprays, CBD is looking to become a household staple of any medicine cabinet.

However, as is completely reasonable, many expectant mothers may be hesitant to incorporate a CBD product into their wellness routine as they mitigate the many stresses associated with pregnancy. When it comes to pregnant mothers, we are equally united in giving you an honest report on if CBD is safe during pregnancy.

Today, we will explain everything you need to know if you’re considering using CBD cream during pregnancy. As this is one of the most critical periods of life for many soon-to-be moms, safety and efficacy remain the number one priority.

The difference between CBD and cannabis

When people hear the word “CBD” the first association they tend to make is between CBD and cannabis. In fact, CBD is one of two main constituents of the cannabis plant, the other being CBD's cousin, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. 

The main difference between the two is that while both are highly bioavailable in most strains of cannabis, CBD is the non-psychoactive component of the plant (it won’t get you high). THC, on the other hand, is responsible for the high feeling we often associate with cannabis products.

It is possible to isolate CBD from the cannabis plant, and create products that contain only trace amounts of THC, or even none at all. Many CBD creams and salves are formulated just like this. CBD oil is the main formulation that can be incorporated into other CBD products like edibles and creams.

Speaking of, another popular misconception is that you need to ingest the hemp plants, either by smoking or eating edibles, in order to reap the benefits of pain relief and stress reduction. However, recent studies have shown that CBD on its own can pack powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

What are the benefits of CBD cream?

CBD cream is only one of many popular CBD formulations tailored to soothing inflamed muscles. CBD cream is developed from CBD oils, pressed into lotions and creams to carry the benefits of CBD into the product; creams in particular have been studied for their anti-inflammatory properties on pain due to painful or swollen joints and muscles.

CBD cream is a great choice for people who have a primary complaint centered on joints and muscles, since you can limit how much CBD you wish to use only to the area you rub the cream in. Transdermal (that is, through the skin) absorption of CBD is effective, quick, and long-lasting, making CBD creams a great choice for soothing general aches and pains without the added terpenes or isolates from whole cannabis. 

Is CBD Cream Safe for Pregnant Women?

Despite an accumulating body of evidence clearly demonstrating the benefits of CBD products to mood, pain and general wellbeing, there is a lack of studies examining CBD and its effects on prenatal health. While CBD products are known to be effective at addressing complaints commonly reported by pregnant women such as nausea and lower back pain, this lack of studies leaves many experts cautious when recommending CBD products for pregnant women.

Why pregnant women are considering using CBD

CBD creams are an attractive product for many people, not just pregnant women; however, the benefits associated with CBD use often address many of the same complaints experienced by expectant mothers. This includes back pain, nausea, food aversion, and even smell sensitivity. 

CBD’s reputation as a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals is also a compelling reason for women who are pregnant that may want to adopt it into their healthcare routine without taking medicines.

Over the counter, or OTC, medications like acetaminophen are approved for use during pregnancy, as well as topicals such as menthol or lidocaine. But any drug, prescription drug or otherwise, must be vetted and made a topic of discussion at your physician appointments.

The main issue when talking about CBD uses during pregnancy is the lack of studies.

The effect of CBD on pregnant women

Many pregnant women who have used CBD creams and oils report a reduction in their symptoms associated with pregnancy, such as morning sickness and aching muscles. However, studies on only CBD products and pregnant women are limited and often include the effects of whole cannabis rather than CBD derivatives. As of right now, the scientific community has no consensus on if CBD oil is safe during pregnancy, but more studies are underway.

Based on these studies of whole cannabis, the FDA strongly advises that pregnant women avoid any marijuana product at any period of pregnancy.

The effect of CBD cream on the developing fetus

Recreational marijuana use by pregnant women has been associated with lower birth weight and possible neurological effects on the fetus, such as a great risk of seizure disorders. This is to say that regular smokers of marijuana are at greater risk for these issues; however, there are no studies on women who only used CBD products during pregnancy. Out of an abundance of caution the National Institutes of Health recommends against recreational marijuana use by expectant mothers in part due to its impact on babys’ brain development.

CBD is fundamentally different from THC as far as subjective effects are concerned, but teasing apart which components of cannabis can influence the developing baby takes time.

Furthermore, CBD products are not like other health supplements available in the USA -- they are not FDA approved, meaning that certain products lack a standard or regulatory benchmark. In short, it's difficult to establish the safety of a large variety of products if you don't know the standard formulations for each one, since other contaminants may be present.

This is why it is critical to involve your family physician if you are curious about using CBD cream during pregnancy, as they can properly explain the benefits and risks that are specific to your health. Above all, the health of you and your baby come first.