Parental perceptions and patterns of cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding at a Canadian tertiary obstetrics centre


On October 17th, 2018, recreational cannabis use became legalized in Canada. Our objective was to investigate parental perceptions and patterns of cannabis use during the pre- and post-natal periods.


Participants were recruited from the women’s health unit at a tertiary care centre; 102 patients or partners of patients who were currently pregnant or less than 6 months post-partum were enrolled in the study. Participants consented to complete an anonymous, online questionnaire including previously validated demographic questions and newly developed questions on cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Chi-square tests were used for data analysis.


Overall, 5.0% of pregnant women and 6.3% of breastfeeding women used cannabis daily or weekly. Among the women who used cannabis during pregnancy, anxiety was the most common reason (33.3%), followed by nausea/vomiting (22.2%), and sleep (22.2%). Among all participants, 22.6% and 30.4% indicated that they believed there was no harm or were unsure of the harm associated with cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, respectively. The majority of participants gained their information on cannabis use during pregnancy from the internet (36.1%); while only 3.6% reported receiving information from their OBGYN. Legalization of cannabis had no reported effect on cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding for the majority of participants.


SOGC guidelines recommend that women who are thinking about becoming pregnant, pregnant, or breastfeeding abstain from using cannabis. Antenatal counselling should include a discussion of alternative treatment options for anxiety, nausea and sleep disorders during pregnancy and provide education on the risks associated with cannabis use.

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The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the FASD Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders, or funders.

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