Harmful Effects of Smoking Weed While Pregnant

Legacy Healing Center Blog

If you have been smoking weed for a while, you may not give it much thought to how it impacts you. But if you’ve had a positive pregnancy test, you may wonder if it could cause issues for your baby. As this drug becomes legal in more states, it is also more readily available. Some women even use it to help with nausea during their pregnancy. You should be aware of the risks before deciding to use it for medicinal or recreational purposes. Learn about the effects of smoking weed while pregnant.

Health Effects of Marijuana During Pregnancy

You may ask, “Does smoking weed affect pregnancy?” Marijuana hasn’t been determined to be safe for a pregnant woman in any amount. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to not use marijuana¹.

Almost 500 chemicals are found in marijuana, many of which can negatively impact the baby’s development. The use of marijuana during pregnancy has been linked to several issues, including:

  • Reduced fetal growth
  • Low birth weight
  • Increased risk of stillbirth
  • Premature birth
  • Brain development issues in the long term²

To reduce these risks, it’s essential to stop using marijuana as soon as you know that you are pregnant. It doesn’t matter how you use marijuana. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that marijuana can have detrimental effects whether you smoke, vape, add it to foods, apply creams or lotions with the drug, or dab it³. When marijuana is smoked, serum carbon monoxide is present and can be transferred to the baby. The amount is five times more than when the woman uses tobacco products¹.

Development issues can continue after birth and even once they are older and in school. Some of these issues may not even be recognized until the child is school age. Marijuana can cause problems with memory, attention, and the ability to problem-solve³.

Studies have shown that children exposed to marijuana in utero were more hyperactive and lacked impulse control. They had memory issues and lower IQ scores. These issues continued into their teenage years with an increased likelihood of delinquent behaviors and more likely use of marijuana and tobacco. They may also experience depression as children and teenagers⁴.

THC and Secondhand Smoke

THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical that alters your mind. It is hazardous for your baby and can be passed to the baby through secondhand smoke. If you live in a home with someone else who smokes marijuana, it can be dangerous for your baby. If you smoke marijuana, the THC chemical can do more harm.

THC in the fetal blood is at minimum one-tenth to one-third of what is in the mother’s blood1. Consistent use makes it even more dangerous for the baby because of the continual exposure to the drug.

Marijuana in Breast Milk

Even after childbirth, your marijuana use can impact the baby through breast milk. Several of the chemicals found in marijuana can pass through breast milk to the baby. It can increase the risk of developmental issues.

How Does Weed Affect a Pregnancy?

Weed can have a significant effect on pregnancy. One study showed that women who were smoking weed while pregnant in some form had a higher rate of anemia. The birth weight of the baby was also lower. There is also an increased risk that the woman will use illicit drugs. The use of marijuana has been linked with the use of other drugs, even in non-pregnant women and men¹.

Pregnant women have a risk of fainting or dizziness when using marijuana. The drug can cause a drop in blood pressure and an increase in heart rate, brought on by THC. Marijuana can also cause a lack of coordination and impaired memory, which may make the typical brain fog experienced by pregnant women even worse.

Women who have used marijuana during pregnancy have often turned to the substance as a way to help with nausea and vomiting. Some of them continued to use marijuana throughout their pregnancy even into the third trimester. The longer the use of the drug during pregnancy, the more significant the effects¹.

Impact of Marijuana in the First Trimester

You can begin experiencing the effects of marijuana use even in the first trimester. You may notice dizziness and altered judgment. With these two symptoms, you are at a greater risk for falls.

Impact of Marijuana in the Second Trimester

The baby may be slow in developing due to exposure to the chemicals in marijuana. You may also experience cognitive issues, causing difficulty in making decisions.

Impact of Marijuana in the Third Trimester

The greatest risk comes in the third trimester with an increase in the chance of stillbirth or pre-term delivery. The baby’s birth weight may be lower than normal as well, less than 5-1/2 pounds⁶. These results can happen with only weekly use of marijuana.

Treatment for Marijuana Use While Pregnant

Treatment for marijuana use or other substances is available for pregnant women. The sooner you can stop using these drugs in your pregnancy, the better it is for the baby. Legacy Healing Centers offers inpatient and outpatient programs with staff on hand to monitor your health as you detox and begin treatment.

At Legacy Healing Centers, multiple types of therapy equip the individual with the skills and resources they need to move forward. Individual therapy sessions are tailored to each patient to address their unique needs. Group therapy works on building social skills and developing support from the community. Family treatment allows family members to learn how to support their loved ones in the long term.

Marijuana is an addictive substance. It is estimated that 1 in 10 users are addicted to the drug⁵. They may have difficulty stopping use even when they know it causes issues. It’s also more challenging to stop use because of withdrawal symptoms, including difficulty sleeping, restlessness, irritability, and cravings. These issues may be heightened for a pregnant woman whose hormone changes can also cause some of these same issues.

Treatment is Available for Substance Use Disorder

If you have been using marijuana and are afraid to stop on your own or have introduced other addictive drugs into the system with marijuana, know that help is available. You can seek treatment with drug rehab in Florida. Avoid going through the detox process alone if you are pregnant. You can have medical assistance as you go through drug detox to protect both you and your baby. Contact us at 888.534.2295 to find out more about the programs we offer.


    1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018, September)Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Implications for Neonatal and Childhood Outcomes.
    2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022, April)Learn About Marijuana Risks.
    3. US Centers for Disease Control.Marijuana Use and Pregnancy.
    4. Harvard University: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. (2019, January) How Marijuana Exposure Affects Developing Babies’ Brains.
    5. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2021, February) Marijuana and Pregnancy.
    6. The Mayo Clinic. (2020, October) What are the effects of the use of marijuana during pregnancy?