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CBD Oil and Breastfeeding: A Comprehensive Guide

Pregnancy and postpartum life present a myriad of challenges for new parents. With the rise in popularity of CBD (cannabidiol), many are curious about its safety during breastfeeding. This article delves into the current understanding of CBD use while nursing, based on available research and expert opinions.

The Appeal of CBD for New Parents

Postpartum life can be overwhelming. From postpartum depression, which affects as many as one in five women, to anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia, new parents face numerous hurdles. These challenges are further intensified by hormonal shifts and sleep deprivation. Given these circumstances, it's understandable why some parents are drawn to CBD, a non-psychoactive component of the marijuana or hemp plant. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD doesn't produce a "high," leading many to perceive it as a safer option.

What Research Says About CBD and Breastfeeding

Most studies on cannabinoids and breastfeeding have focused on THC rather than CBD. Research indicates that THC can be passed to infants through breast milk. For instance, a study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that breastfed babies ingested about 2.5% of the maternal dose of THC. However, the effects of CBD on breastfed infants remain largely unknown. Experts emphasize the need for caution due to the potential impact of any cannabinoid on an infant's brain development.

The "Pump and Dump" Myth

Contrary to popular belief, the "pump and dump" method isn't effective for cannabis products. Chemicals from cannabis consumed days or even weeks before breastfeeding can still find their way into breast milk.

Is CBD Safe During Breastfeeding?

The consensus among medical professionals is that there's insufficient safety data to recommend CBD use during breastfeeding. Dr. Felice Gersh, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, and Dr. Mary Clifton, an internal medicine doctor, both advise against CBD use while nursing due to the lack of comprehensive research. While anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabinoids have been used by nursing parents for millennia, experts like Dr. Robert Flannery stress the importance of scientific validation.

Weighing the Risks vs. Benefits

While CBD poses minimal risk to adults, its effects on breastfed infants are still under investigation. Hilary Peckham, co-founder of Etain Health, highlights the importance of evaluating the potential benefits against the risks. For instance, CBD might be an alternative for parents suffering from postpartum depression who wish to avoid certain antidepressants. However, consulting a doctor before starting CBD, especially while breastfeeding, is crucial.

Cannabidiol in Breast Milk

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a component of cannabis. While it hasn't been extensively studied in nursing women taking pharmaceutical-grade CBD, traces of it have been detected in the breast milk of mothers who consumed cannabis products. The presence of CBD in breast milk raises concerns, especially given the lack of comprehensive information on its effects during breastfeeding. It's worth noting that while some mothers might consider using CBD as an antiepileptic, there are alternative drugs that might be more appropriate, especially when nursing newborns or preterm infants.

CBD Concentrations in Breast Milk

In a study where mothers reported using cannabis and donated milk samples, the median concentration of CBD in the milk was found to be 5 mcg/L, with a range between 1.3 to 8.6 mcg/L. A subsequent pharmacokinetic model predicted an average milk concentration of 0.56 mcg/L. This suggests that fully breastfed infants would be exposed to less than 1% of the CBD dosage given to children aged 4 to 10 years for therapeutic purposes related to seizures.

Effects on the Infant and Lactation

As of the latest revisions, there hasn't been any published information on the effects of CBD on breastfed infants or its impact on lactation. This lack of data underscores the need for caution and further research.

Alternatives to Consider

For those considering CBD for seizure disorders while breastfeeding, there are other anticonvulsants to consider, such as:

  • Carbamazepine
  • Divalproex
  • Gabapentin
  • Lamotrigine
  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Phenytoin
  • Valproic Acid

It's essential to consult with a healthcare provider when considering any medication or supplement during breastfeeding.


The use of CBD oil during breastfeeding remains a topic of debate and research. While CBD offers potential therapeutic benefits, its safety profile during breastfeeding is not well-established. Given the current state of knowledge, it's crucial for nursing mothers to exercise caution and seek advice from healthcare professionals before using CBD or any cannabis products.

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