Perspectives from women who engaged in prenatal and postpartum cannabis use in a U.S. State with legal non-medical use

Evidence suggests fetal risks are associated with cannabis use during pregnancy. Yet, insights into women’s decision-making and cannabis use during pregnancy are limited. This study explored these concepts with postpartum women who used cannabis during and after pregnancy. We conducted interviews with 15 women (4 self-identifying a race other than White and 4 self-identifying Hispanic ethnicity) who: 1) lived in the Puget Sound region of Washington State, 2) reported past-year cannabis use on a routine screen, and 3) had documented pregnancy and delivery March 2015-May 2017. Semi-structured interviews asked about decision-making and cannabis use during pregnancy and postpartum. We used template analysis for coding and analysis. The key findings included that women: 1) gathered information about cannabis use during pregnancy primarily through internet searches and discussions with peers; 2) were reluctant to talk with health care providers about cannabis; 3) used cannabis while pregnant to treat health issues, including morning sickness, pain, and mental health conditions; 4) were comfortable with their decision to use cannabis while pregnant, but had questions about long-term effects; and 5) tried to mitigate transmission through breastmilk. Women decided about cannabis during pregnancy based on their experience, health symptoms, and information gathered from the internet and peers, often without guidance from their health care provider. Results point to opportunities for providers to become informed about and engage in discussion with patients about cannabis use during preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum.


Keywords:

Breastfeeding; Cannabis; Postpartum; Pregnancy; Primary care.

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