1. Wallman, Carol DNP, APRN, NNP-BC
  2. Baessler, Catherine BSN, RN
  3. Hoffman, Jacqueline M DNP, APRN, NNP-BC

Article Content


Breastfeeding is the optimal feeding method and human milk the optimal source of nutrition for neonates and infants. Research addressing the impact of marijuana use during breastfeeding is limited. As the professional voice of neonatal nurses, the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) recommends women abstain from marijuana consumption while breastfeeding or providing human milk for consumption.1


The most common illicit drug used during pregnancy and lactation in the United States and Canada is marijuana. Actual use is most likely higher than reported ranges of 3.4% to 16%, as it is based on self-reporting.2-6 Marijuana is often perceived by consumers as being safe, likely contributing to continued use throughout pregnancy and lactation.7


Confusion regarding the safety of marijuana use while pregnant or breastfeeding has followed its legalization in parts of the United States and Canada.8,9 However, there is sufficient evidence that marijuana use during pregnancy can lead to decreased infant birth weights and increased risks of preterm delivery, along with neurodevelopmental impacts in school-aged children and adolescents.2,10-18


Marijuana crosses into human milk after maternal consumption.1,19-21 Because of insufficient data on both immediate neonatal risks and potential long-term impacts regarding maternal marijuana consumption, women who are providing human milk for consumption should be advised to avoid marijuana consumption.1 When maternal milk is not available, donor human milk should be obtained from a reputable milk bank and milk sharing is highly discouraged.1,22-24


Educating and counseling lactating mothers in a supportive and nonjudgmental manner regarding the goal of abstaining from marijuana consumption based on the potential risks of marijuana use during lactation are key roles of the nurse. For lactating mothers who choose to continue using marijuana, the nurse should continue to provide lactation support and advise them to minimize their consumption. Nurses should participate in developing evidence-based, nonjudgmental, and nonpunitive hospital, state, and national guidelines and legislation addressing marijuana use during lactation. Nurses should play key roles in driving further research addressing maternal use of marijuana during pregnancy and lactation.




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