Marijuana effects on pregnancy and baby

Pregnancy is a transformative journey filled with hopes and dreams for a healthy baby. Expectant mothers must make numerous decisions, including lifestyle choices, to ensure the well-being of their developing baby and their future.

Among them, one choice or habit that has garnered a lot of attention recently is regarding the use of marijuana during pregnancy. How does it affect the pregnancy journey? Does it have any implications for fetal development? Does it have an impact on miscarriages? The list is extensive.

This article will explore all you need to know about the use of marijuana and its impacts on the health of the mother and the developing baby during pregnancy.

How Marijuana Affects Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, a woman’s body already goes through significant physical and emotional changes.

With the added pressure of growing a baby inside them, expectant mothers must be highly vigilant about the substances they expose themselves and their developing babies to.

Marijuana, a psychoactive drug, consists of an active compound called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has adverse effects on the mother’s body during pregnancy and even worse effects on the baby.

The following are a few worth highlighting:

Altered hormone levels

We already know that pregnancy significantly alters the blood’s hormonal levels. However, when marijuana is consumed, the THC can permeate through the placenta and affect the developing fetus directly.

Furthermore, THC has the potential to alter the dopamine levels in the bloodstream, which can lead to significant impacts on the mother and the developing baby.

Impaired cognitive function

Marijuana has been scientifically proven to impair cognitive function and short-term memory, directly impacting decision-making skills and reaction times.

This can be highly concerning for expectant mothers since it can alter their ability to care for themselves and their developing babies.

Increased heart rate or tachycardia

In normal situations, a sudden onset of tachycardia might not lead to life-threatening situations but during pregnancy, an uncontrolled and progressively increasing heart rate can impact the amount of oxygen reaching the developing fetus.

Since oxygen is integral to the baby’s growth and development, any hindrance can lead to complexities with their well-being inside the womb.

The Link Between Marijuana Use and Miscarriage: What Research Shows

There are not many studies conducted that depict the connection between marijuana use and miscarriage in pregnant women.

However, the few studies that are available do conclude the fact that marijuana use during pregnancy enhances the risks of a miscarriage and stillbirth by 2.3x than a normal and healthy pregnancy.

The study further emphasizes that since marijuana consumption directly impacts the fetus’s developing brain, expectant mothers must stay away from smoking or being near marijuana smokers for the duration of the pregnancy.

Related Blog: 11 Harmful Effects of Smoking on Fertility and Reproductive Health

Some women do justify the consumption of marijuana to override the nausea that they struggle with during pregnancy. However, no scientific research has confirmed or concluded its benefit in helping with nausea or for marijuana to be a safe practice during pregnancy.

Pre-clinical trials (conducted on pregnant animals) show that exposure to moderate or high amounts of THC during pregnancy can have lasting impacts on the child, even after birth. Some deficits include social interaction issues, increased stress, responsivity, etc.

Besides miscarriage being a significant consequence, exposure to marijuana during pregnancy also leads to other complications in the baby, including “altered responses to visual stimuli, increased trembling, and a high-pitched cry.”

In short, marijuana during pregnancy is a significant no, even if there are justifications for its medical use.

The Impact of Marijuana on Fetal Development

One of the main reasons why research and doctors highly suggest avoiding marijuana during pregnancy is due to its impacts on fetal development.

Some of the most noteworthy impacts include:

1. Issues with brain development

Studies have found that THC, the active compound in marijuana, can alter the baby’s brain development, leading to significant deficits even after birth. It often leads to a variety of cognitive and behavioral issues in the child down the road.

2. Low birth weight

Expectant mothers who smoke marijuana or come in direct contact with people who smoke marijuana often give birth to babies with low birth weight. This, in turn, leads to a higher risk for various health problems and developmental delays in the baby down the line.

3. Preterm birth

Besides babies being born with low birth weight, marijuana use during pregnancy is also associated with elevated risks of preterm birth, making the babies more vulnerable to health complications in the short and long term.

4. Cognitive and behavioral issues

Children exposed to marijuana during pregnancy may exhibit cognitive and behavioral issues later in life. These can include difficulties with attention, memory, and problem-solving skills. Behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity or impulsivity, have been reported in some cases.

What are the Best Tips to Quit Marijuana Use?

If you are pregnant and are a heavy marijuana user, it is time to let go of that habit and prioritize your baby’s health, well-being, and safety.

We understand that quitting a habit out of the blue is never easy, so the following are a few tips worth paying attention to:

1. Seek support

Quitting an ill habit like smoking marijuana can never be a one-day transformation. This is why getting professional help is necessary to get proper guidance and keep yourself accountable so you have a healthy and safe pregnancy.

2. Identify triggers

What pushes you to smoke marijuana? Is it only for recreation, or do you primarily use it for medical purposes? Identifying your “need” to smoke marijuana is crucial to quitting the habit for good. When you identify your triggers, it becomes easier for you to develop healthy coping strategies that you can stick to.

3. Set clear goals

When trying to quit marijuana use, especially during pregnancy, you should have one goal–to ensure your baby’s optimal safety and well-being. Setting goals can help you stay focused and motivated throughout your pregnancy.

4. Explore alternative coping mechanisms

If you have been smoking marijuana religiously for a few years or even a few months, quitting this habit out of the blue can be challenging. This is why finding alternative coping mechanisms is crucial. Developing healthy coping habits like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can promote relaxation and reduce the urge to smoke.

5. Get professional help

If you are finding it challenging to navigate through the quitting process by yourself, you always have the option to seek professional help. Behavioral therapy or counseling can effectively address addiction and provide you with the tools to overcome it.

Seeking Help for a Healthier Pregnancy Journey

Navigating pregnancy when actively trying to quit marijuana can tax one’s physical and emotional well-being.

This is where specialists and medical professionals at Queen’s Gynecology step into the picture. Since our aim is to provide our patients with a safe and non-judgemental treatment experience, we have also helped our patients navigate through such challenging situations as well.

There is no shame in seeking assistance to ensure a healthier pregnancy journey. Here are some steps to consider:

  • If you are struggling with your marijuana addiction during pregnancy, our specialists are here to help you navigate the situation. We want you to be open about your struggles so we can understand your shortcomings and connect you with specialists who can help you navigate the challenges easily.
  • If you are finding it hard to quit marijuana by yourself, professional help is out there, and opting for cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or contingency management is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  • Your struggles with marijuana addiction while being pregnant can feel very isolating. Hence, joining support groups can be an effective way to navigate through the challenges and find the support you need to navigate through the challenges.
  • The journey to quitting marijuana use may be challenging, but your baby’s health is worth the effort. Stay committed to your goal of having a healthier pregnancy.


Marijuana use during pregnancy is a topic that demands careful consideration. The potential risks to both the pregnant individual and the developing baby make it imperative to avoid marijuana during this crucial period. However, the issue is the lack of awareness and education surrounding the subject.

At Queen’s Gynecology, we offer a safe environment to our patients to ensure they can be open and vulnerable about their experiences; we also promote conversations surrounding these topics to promote patient education and awareness so every patient of ours has a safe experience with their pregnancy.

Kashmera Hazra

Kashmera Hazra

Kashmera Hazra is an engineer turned writer. She is an alumnus of the prestigious university Birla institute of technology, Mesra, and has several international journals and research papers in her name. She worked as a content writer with HealthKart and has over six years of experience in this field.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Queen's Gynecology App for all latest updates

Download App
Consult Now Get a Call Back