This compound isn’t psychoactive and doesn’t have the same interaction with neurotransmitters in the brain like serotonin — which is one of the main reasons why THC is not advised for babies or small children.
The most common cause of infant anxiety is anxious or stressed parents — babies are receptive to emotions. CBD is useful for anxiety-related symptoms because it’s able to enhance the binding ability of a neurotransmitter known as GABA — GABA essentially acts as the brake pedal for the nervous system. When we start moving too fast (such as during an anxiety attack), GABA works to slow down neurological activity and help us relax.
There are no clear indications that CBD is unsafe for babies — especially compared to some of the other cannabinoids like THC, which have been proven to be unsafe for newborns and young children.
Is CBD Safe to Use While Breastfeeding?
Unfortunately, there’s almost no research currently available exploring the interaction between CBD supplementation in babies.
Royal CBD is a leader in manufacturing premium CBD oils — offering high-quality products made using organically-grown American hemp. A sample from each batch produced by this company is sent to independent labs for testing. This is used to prove the quality and safety of every bottle sold.
Doctors’ opinions on the use of CBD in infants will vary. Most doctors err on the side of avoiding the substance due to the lack of research to prove the substance is safe.
CBD is a fat-soluble compound, meaning that it will easily transfer through breast milk and into the baby’s digestive tract. Of course, the amount that transfers into the breast milk is minimal, but enough that it’s something we need to consider before giving the green light.
This is common enough in new moms, says Catherine Birndorf, MD, the cofounder and medical director at The Motherhood Center in New York City, which specializes in treating pre- and post-natal mood and anxiety disorders. “This idea kicks in that ‘I have to do better than just good enough,'” Birndorf says. “And that extends to not taking anything that’s a drug or perceived as ‘bad’ for you. “People think [CBD and the like] are safer because they’re ‘natural.’ But psychiatric drugs came from natural substances that we’ve figured out how to manufacture. And they’re more well-studied than probably anything else we put in our bodies,” she told me. “Psychiatric symptoms that are untreated have incredibly far-reaching implications — for the baby and you. And people are using illicit drugs or alcohol because they think somehow that’s better? No.”
Very little data exists on CBD oil at all — it may well relax you, but it’s unclear whether that’s due to a chemical reaction in the body or a (very real) placebo effect. “And in pregnant and breastfeeding moms, the clinical studies, the research — even survey research isn’t there,” says Martin De Vita, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Syracuse University who studies CBD. “In general, there isn’t much clinical use. We do know CBD is generally safe, but it’s also not well regulated. Consumers should be careful.”
The drug is fast-acting; if I took it at 3:30 a.m. after nursing, he reassured me that little would be left in my bloodstream when I nursed her again at 7 a.m. Even as I stood wobbling, exhausted, in line at the pharmacy, my daughter sleeping peacefully in her carrier on my chest, filling that prescription gave me pause. Intellectually, I believe there should be no shame or fear in treating mental illness, but as a wellness-lover and a breastfeeding mother — and as a woman who felt an irrational surge of pride when, after I donated my cord blood after my daughter was born, the technician at the hospital told me, “I don’t know what you’ve been eating, but your placental blood is amazing” — I struggled to internalize that message. I eat organic, run half-marathons, do yoga every Sunday. Taking a psychiatric pharmaceutical that comes with the potential for dependence does not fit the profile.
If I took CBD oil, I’d have no way of knowing how much was getting into my daughter’s system. With Xanax, we know this down to the microgram: 1.1 hours after I popped my 0.5 milligram dose, Xanax would have filtered into my breast milk at 3.7 micrograms per liter (or 0.11 micrograms per ounce, since no one measures breast milk in liters). The concentrations drops from there but, to be clear, Xanax has a long half life — some trace of is detectible in breastmilk for an average of 14.5 hours — which is why it would not be a first choice drug for many nursing moms. My doctor chose it for me because I took it infrequently — maybe once a week — and needed something that works really fast, since new moms are grabbing slivers of sleep between feedings. Plus, I always nursed her at least three hours after taking it.
When my daughter was about five months old, she finally began sleeping through the night. Well, sometimes. Would this be a good night, or a bad one? We never knew.
According to De Vita, early research indicates that using CBD during pregnancy might actually weaken the placental wall, making it easier for anything in your system (including CBD) to cross the barrier and affect a fetus. And while pure CBD oil should contain less than .02 percent THC, he says it’s possible that, because THC is stored in fat cells, even those trace amounts could bind to the fat in breast milk.
So I went to a psychiatrist. He identified my problem as postpartum anxiety, gave me a list of cognitive behavioral strategies — deep breathing, tensing and releasing my muscles — and, for the nights when those techniques didn’t work, wrote me a prescription for Xanax.