Why cannabis is good for mothers
I am not a mother. But despite that, this is an important topic to me; my business partners at the Conscious Cannabis Club are both working mothers who use cannabis and one of my primary intentions is to de-stigmatise the use of this medicinal plant, so it’s a topic that is very important to me.
Parenting in the modern world has become more stressful, more time-consuming, and more labour-intensive, which means mothers are often on edge. There’s the internal pressure of expectations of themselves as parents as well as society’s expectations, all of which burden an already exhausted primary care-giver.
Having “your shit together” is the holy grail of modern adulthood, and it’s something which is only exacerbated when you become a parent. Suddenly you have to be “perfect” in every way; a goal no one can ever achieve anyway, and the effort (and inevitable failure) in trying to achieve it leaves many parents in a constant state of self-flagellation and guilt.
In “A woman’s guide to cannabis”, Nikki Furrer writes of a woman she witnessed in a parking lot who, after wrangling her tantrum-throwing kids into the car, slid down the side of the door, lit a cigarette and cried.
Nikki’s response was a deep internal desire for this woman to know what cannabis-based support is available to her – not smoking a joint and getting high (which is probably what most people would assume if they heard that), but a high-CBD blend of sativa that would allow her to feel grounded and calm whilst still being fully responsible for her kids.
And this is where the stigma around cannabis rears its head; it’s seen as perfectly acceptable to have a glass of wine in front of your kids but having a joint is viewed as a violation of parental responsibility. Given that a joint is not necessarily going to get you “high”, this is an invalid and damaging judgement.
The standards women are held to
Studies show that in a heterosexual household the woman will still do most of the housework (up to 90%!). Why? How is it that in a modern culture, that (in theory) offers equality to both sexes, women still bearing the brunt of household chores and responsibility for children?
On top of the burden of labour, mothers are judged and shamed constantly; particularly if they want to have a joint. Having a glass (or two) of wine however is perfectly acceptable. The added patriarchal demand is that the effort and strain remain invisible – any sharing about the hardship of motherhood is seen as complaining about your children, which is (of course) unacceptable in the “perfect mother” archetype.
And of course you need to look good doing it. Times have moved on (again, in theory) but the standards of the 50’s are still just under the surface; women are still expected to be a perfect partner, mother, homemaker and possibly breadwinner as well, and to make it all look easy. Lightening this load is something that cannabis could potentially really help with.
Cannabis and pregnancy
Many of us (myself included) automatically think that cannabis is a no-go when you’re pregnant. The truth is we don’t know what impact cannabis might have on a developing fetus. We know smoking tobacco is damaging, but there currently aren’t studies that give us good data about cannabis use during pregnancy.
We know that cannabis can be very helpful for nausea, which can therefore be particularly useful at the start of pregnancy. Given the lack of information, it seems to me that it’s best to listen to your body and your intuition and make your own decisions. The prevailing wisdom is that what’s good for mama is good for baby; your body knows what you need and when you’re pregnant it knows what you and your baby need.
Dr Michele Ross, a neuroscientist who has studied the effects of cannabis on the developing brain, says that cannabis does not cause birth defects (unlike alcohol and many other prescription drugs) and that mothers have been safely using cannabis for decades.
The instagram account High Society Mama, which I highly recommend, runs a survey every year on Cannabis & Breastfeeding; these are some of the survey results from this year, answered by 661 women.
When asked if they believe daily cannabis use is harmful to a baby, 2.5% said yes, 25% said they weren’t sure, 72% said no. 99% of the sample said they believe cannabis to be a safe alternative to some pharmaceutical medications while breastfeeding if the same results are achieved. And of the 225 women who used cannabis whilst breastfeeding, 9.5% said they used it a few times per month, 17% used it a few times per week, and 39% said they used it daily.
The bottom line is that no one knows what you need as well as you do. Cannabis is really just a plant that can be enormously beneficial in managing stress and pain and should be available to everyone in society, along with easily accessible, good quality information on its uses and benefits.
// Listen to this episode on the Podcast.