Posts Tagged ‘ breastmilk ’

High Mamma’s

It’s all over social media: The Stir, The Bump, Babycenter, even breastfeeding advocate sites like Breastfeeding Mama Talk. Mommy confessions pleading for no judgement and for understanding. Throngs of people behind them encouraging them and applauding them for being so brave to “come out.” Quoting psedo-science or poorly understood misconstrued facts. Giving examples of how modern they all are; and quickly shutting down anyone who is a buzzkill by disagreeing. How judgmental and “sancti-momious” art thou who doesn’t agree!

Whats the newest Mommy Confession that’s got everyone going? Using marijuana and other cannabis products while pregnant and/or breastfeeding.

With all the new information we have coming out about medical uses for cannabis, I decided to put on my tolerance hat and research the science myself with an open mind. I am of the mind that my opinion is allowed to change on something should there be sufficient proof that it should change.

After doing some internet research, and getting a very incomplete understanding of the newest research into cannabinoids as well as decades old studies, I decided the only way to get information that was not decades old or agenda driven would be to actually talk to an expert myself.

I emailed several scientists I found after reading a few research papers and finally one emailed me back. He was currently very busy organizing a convention; however he steered me towards one of his collaborators. Dr. Joseph Morgan was gracious enough to give me a phone interview and answer a few questions. Dr. Morgan has been an independent consultant for the pharmaceutical industry for twenty-five years. He has trained in cannabinoid medicine. I also emailed a woman named Rosie who works at a recreational marijuana dispensary in Colorado. She has also worked at a medical dispensary. Most of the technical information contained in this article (unless otherwise sited) is from these two sources.

First, I feel a few definitions are needed.

Cannabinoid: A unique chemical that interacts with the Endocannabinoid system found in animals. Can be found in the cannabis plant, as well as other places. There are anywhere from 70 to several hundred known Cannabinoids; including synthetic ones.

Endocannabinoid: A system in the body that interacts with other systems and has been discovered in the past 25 years. The receptors of this system vary widely in density and shape and that is largely dependent on genetics. The number of receptors found in each person also fluctuates as the body attempts to maintain balance. For example; if someone uses cannabis often they would have less receptors then a person who never uses.

Clean Cannabis: Medical grade marijuana that should be grown under specific conditions. Often grown hydroponically or using coconut bark ideally.

Recreational Cannabis: Marijuana, grown at home or from a dealer or dispensary. Growing conditions may or may not be known. May or may not have traces of pesticides, mold, fungus, bacteria. If grown in soil may contain unsafe levels of heavy metals; at least unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding women as well as fetus/baby.

THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol. The cannabinoid found in marijuana that is responsible for much of the “high” feelings many people experience while using recreational marijuana. It causes the body to react and respond in a similar way to cannabinoids found in our bodies, however is NOT the same as the cannabinoids found in our bodies. THC bonds to the naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors (see term Endocannabinoid) in our body.

Synthetic THC: Created by people, this substance is purely THC.

CB1: A relevant cannabinoid receptor in our body; part of the endocannabinoid system. Is activated by THC and Synthetic THC. CB1 receptors decrease with persons who use cannabis heavily.

CBD: Another cannabinoid found in cannabis; a lot of research into this compound. This may be very helpful especially for future medical research. Does not have psychoactive properties of THC, and blocks the CB1 receptor in the endocannabinoid system.

So what does this mean for moms? Specifically breastfeeding moms?

For medical use, using should not be taken lightly. It may or may not be able to help with certain issues. Dr. Morgan specifically sited sufferers of Crohns Disease, saying that medicinal cannabis use may improve the health of the mother overall and reduce the need for more toxic medicines;  therefor would be beneficial to the baby in that way.

Essentially: the benefits in a circumstance like that would outweigh the costs. It is for a well-informed doctor to make this decision with the patient; not a decision someone should just decide on by themselves.

Dr. Morgan was very clear about possible harm from recreational use of cannabis not only to the mother but also being transferred to baby via breastmilk or umbilical cord. He spoke about toxins on the plant or in the plant that would cause harm to mother and child. Specifically we know the effects of pesticides, fungus, bacteria, and mite infestation. He especially warned against “neurotoxicity pesticide contamination issues.” One thing he spoke of that I did not already know was that the plant itself draws in heavy metals from the soil which then goes into the mother’s body and the baby’s. This includes mercury and lead as well as others.

Many of the compounds found in cannabis are fat soluble, which means they do end up in breastmilk, including whatever “tag-alongs” are in it. It should be noted that concentrates (such as oils and wax etc…) will also contain the pesticides of the plant it was derived from.

I also specifically asked Dr. Morgan the difference between cannabinoids found in cannabis and cannabinoids found in the body naturally. He explained that they are not at all the same. He explained the ones the body makes are used for on demand purposes, they remain in the body a few seconds at a time. Those found in cannabis can be active in your system for hours and can be detected in your system for weeks. He also said that on a chemical level they are structurally different. The similarity, he says, is that they both activate the receptors in the endocannabinoid system.

We all know that people react differently to cannabis use. I myself do not find it enjoyable and never “got into it” spare a few experiments in college. I asked Dr. Morgan how we can know if use will effect a mothers ability to care for her child coherently. He said that the receptors for everyone are genetically coded and vary in shape and density and number. At this time their is no way to accurately say how it will effect a mothers ability or not since everyone reacts so differently. Dr. Morgan specifically stated that minimum amounts should be used for medication.

Dr. Morgan did have some very interesting theory’s about cannabinoid deficiency’s in the mother being a possible explanation for why some infants are termed as “failure to thrive.” If you are not familiar with this term; here is a link. If this was the case a prescription of cannabis could possibly help he says. This would require further study of course; of which is currently difficult given the strict government regulations and restrictions on the topic.

I think out of everything I have learned during this project, that is the biggest flag for me. The uncertainty of it all. The bottom line is we do not have a lot of current studies on this subject. The answers are still unclear on exact effects of THC and other cannabis compounds on the developing fetus and nursing child, positive or negative. As I mentioned earlier; in a medical necessity situation the doctor must go over the benefits versus the costs with the patient.

Here is where it gets a bit tricky. As I mentioned earlier, I also interviewed Rosie who has worked at medical and recreation dispensary’s in Colorado. I do not know a lot about whats going on at a consumer level so her insight was very interesting.

In Colorado it is legal to sell cannabis products to pregnant and nursing mothers. Rosie said she has sold to pregnant moms and said, “I assume it will be used responsibly.”  She tells me that from what she knows both medical and recreational dispensary’s grow product in soil. She prefers the taste of cannabis grown hydroponically. I myself was quite alarmed at the information that medical dispensaries grow product in soil considering what I now know about heavy metals in the plant. She says the main differences between a medical dispensary and a recreational dispensary are the amounts being sold and the amount of taxes for each sale.

From what I have learned it seems more regulation is needed on a local level. More research is needed which means less regulation on a national level. More awareness is needed. More education on the subject.

Dr. Morgan hopes that in the future of this research we could see a higher quality of research and a better safer cleaner product being used. This means a lot of the government restrictions that has held up the last few decades are actually causing more harm than good at this point.

One thing is very clear it seems; no matter where this research takes us in the future, RIGHT NOW, unless medically nessisary, pregnant and nursing moms should not use cannabis products. The know effects of cannabis with “dubious purity” are known for sure and none of it is good.

Who knows; a few years down the road our understanding of this might become clearer. In the meantime, why take any unnecessary risk?

 

______________________________________________________

Dr. Joseph Morgan is currently working on “legal and safer plant mimicking for FDA approval” in response to some of the issue mentioned above.

Rosie is newly engaged and living life! Congratulations Rosie!

A GIGANTIC THANK YOU to both Dr. Morgan and Rosie for helping with this post!!!! It is truly appreciated!

Your Babies Gut…

…WAS NOT DESIGNED TO DIGEST ANYTHING OTHER THEN BREAST MILK UNTIL AT LEAST 4-6 MONTHS!

Formula is a suitable substitute for breast milk, go ahead and use it if you want to.

You know what is NOT OK? Rice freaking cereal or cow’s milk!!! In fact it is dangerous! Their little brand new digestive system is not ready for such heavy stuff! In the long-term it can cause allergies, Gastrointestinal issues, lead to early onset diabetes, and obesity. In the short-term it can cause constipation and confusion.

Some people seem to think it helps with acid reflux and will help a baby sleep better through the night. They have formula designed for babies with acid reflux, if your breastfeeding you don’t get acid reflux at all and sleeping through the night… really? You want to trade you child’s life long health so you can maybe get a full nights rest? Seriously?

Crying Mogwai

The AAP, the WHO, and UNICEF all recommend waiting until 6 months before even starting anything not liquid. They have tiny little tummies, they are supposed to eat a little at a time. Why are we always in such a rush in this country to make our kids grow up? Like we expect them to come out of the womb and be ready to get a job….

OK, maybe not that grown up but we Do put unnecessary timelines on our kids.  Some of my peers are calling 36 weeks “full term” for a pregnancy. They aren’t even born yet and we want them to hurry up! I know women who have scheduled elective c-sections at 36 weeks! That is insane!

Why can’t we just let them grow at there own pace? Let things happen without freaking out that they are slow or behind? It’s like if they don’t fit into our lives or our schedules then something must be wrong with them. Does anybody else see how crazy that sounds? They have just taken a breath and opened there eyes to the sun for the first time and we want them to eat big people food and walk and be quiet and sleep 8 hours a night and take two solid 4 hour naps a day and be happy all alone in a swing or crib four hours and hours each day. We expect so much of THEM, why don’t we expect more of ourselves? How about a little understanding? Why don’t WE take a step back and realize they can not conform to our pre-set determination of their day-to-day life. That it is OUR lives that need re-evaluation to fit around them. Eventually, they will naturally fall into a set sleep pattern and eat on a regular schedule and do all the things we want if we as adults could just be patient. It think it would make everyone, mother and child, much happier.

This is something I wish I had known with my first. I wish I had just had more patience in the beginning. She was such a difficult baby, but I had such high standards of what society told me a baby was “supposed” to be like. She wasn’t fitting into the mold I saw all around me in the media and what our pediatrician at the time said she ought to, so my anxiety rose as I thought something must be “wrong” with her. Looking back, their was nothing wrong with her at all. It is not wrong for an infant to want to nurse every two hours or every 20 minutes, or to want to use mom as a pacie. It is not wrong for an infant to want to be held all the time and to not want to sleep alone. I hate sleeping alone, when my husband would close the restaurant and not get home until 3 am I could never sleep right. How could I expect an infant to happily sleep all alone?

At two months she did not weigh as much as some chart said she ought to weigh. The pediatrician basically convinced me she was starving to death and I was letting it happen by refusing to use formula. I gave in and began to supplement with formula at night and she put on lots of weight fast. I wish at the time someone had told me that breastfed babies arent (generally speaking) as heavy as those fed formula. That the chart that most pediatricians use is based on average weights of formula fed babies. I didn’t take into account my genetics or my husbands (both of us petite babies and children.) All I heard was her doctor telling me she was underweight and my breasts weren’t cutting it. We continued to supplement, relying more heavily on formula until about 7 months when our daughter decided she didn’t want the breast anymore at all. She still took formula at night until her first birthday when she decided she didn’t want that anymore either. I wish I had just worked harder to up my supply. I had been making enough, I just hadn’t been making any extra.

I am beyond proud to say that we are nearly 12 weeks with our son and he has yet to have a drop of formula. Honestly, it hasn’t been easy. As much as I let him nurse and as much as I pump and take my prenatal’s and fenugreek and eat my oatmeal I am still not gushing and overflowing with milk. I envy those women who have ounces and ounces stored in the freezer. Currently I have 6 oz in the freezer and another 4 in the fridge… and those were collected on chance and luck. Normally he eats as much as I make, no more no less. But that is OK too. He is healthy and we have managed this time (so far) to be much more relaxed parents and not freak out over every little thing. I feel, all around, we are a much happier family unit and he is a much happier baby because I am going with his flow. He is a fat little baby and I am so proud to say that my breasts did that!

Happy Mogwai eating

Happy Mogwai Eating

Like usual, it appears I have ranted off my original topic. So, I say again, don’t give your babies solid food (including rice cereal) or cows milk (or goat milk or wolverine milk or soy milk) until they are at least 4 months; and even then don’t rush it! They will tell you when they are ready. They have the rest of their lives to eat sugar and starch and peas and carrots. It’s just not necessary or worth it to rush.

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