Pregnancy and Medical Marijuana: Can Pot Help Pregnant Women With Vomiting and Nausea?
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Stumble upon any number of online communities for pregnant women and you can't help but find women, mostly in their first trimester, spilling their guts (figuratively) about the fact that they're spilling their guts regularly and feel as if they want to die daily from the nausea, inability to keep down food or drinks and the constant vomiting.
According to the Mayo Clinic's Mary Murry, anywhere between 50 to 90 percent of pregnant women experience some nausea - to varying degrees. For most women, the nausea peaks, says Murry, around nine weeks and ends by about the 18th or 19th week of pregnancy. For five percent of unlucky women, however, it persists until the bitter end. It's hardly surprising. If you've been pregnant or know someone who has, it's likely that the saccharine sweet euphemism "morning sickness" doesn't do justice to what you or your friends have felt. For some pregnant women, the nausea passes quickly and easily. For others it becomes a daily - or even hourly - battle between ones' body and ones' intellectual understanding that if one doesn't consume a crumb of food at some point one will slowly starve or starve ones' poor, growing embryo or fetus. This condition is called hyperemesis gravidarum and the constant vomiting and nausea lead to extreme weight loss and even malnutrition for the woman. It's dangerous.
If there's one theorem I can prove, however, it's this: for every pregnant woman in the world whose experienced any symptom or discomfort under the sun, there a million different suggestions for treatment. But what happens when one of those suggestions is the use of an illegal substance?
When it comes to nausea and vomiting, women experiment to be sure: from prescription medication to concoctions of ginger tea and herbs to acupressure wristbands and more. When you're experiencing what one pregnant woman posting on the Mayo Clinic's pregnancy blog experienced, you're willing to try almost anything.
I'm 13 weeks into this and haven't had a day of peace in over 7 weeks (it was 7 weeks this past Thursday, yes, I'm keeping count). I've been nauseated and throwing up to the point of going in for weekly IVs for 5 weeks now. I couldn't wait to get pregnant and now that I am, I'm miserable and wonder how some women manage to have baby after baby! My poor husband has already succumbed to the idea that this might truly be our only child. My family and friends miss the old me; I miss the old me! The doctors and nurses keep telling me this stage will end soon, but these days seem never-ending. I wake up and dry-heave, I eat and throw it up, then I dry-heave some more and the cycle continues through my work day, and all the way until I get to bed.
Just what does "anything" look like though?
For many women, it looks suspiciously like pot. Marijuana. Cannabis. Because it is.
As one woman commented on the web site Momlogic.com, on a blog post about pregnancy,
During my first pregnancy, I was hospitalized repeatedly for dehydration due to severe hyperemesis," wrote Holly. " Zofran didn't work. I was so sick that I told my husband it was a good thing we didn't own a gun -- and at that point, I wasn't kidding .... Did I eventually break down and try marijuana? You bet. Did it work? Yes. Do I feel guilty about it? Not a single bit.
The drug to which she refers, Zofran, is a prescription drug recommended by some OB-GYNs and midwives to treat nausea in pregnant women. It was originally created for use by chemotherapy patients who suffer from extreme nausea and vomiting especially evident in the aforementioned hyperemesis gravidarum condition. It's true that Zofran works for some women; and, like with Holly, not at all for others. Some women question the safety of the medication, as well. Phenergan is another prescription medication to treat nausea and vomiting. These medications, however, are far from fail safe. Many women find themselves continuing to battle extreme deyhydration and malnutrition and are desperate for relief - even if that relief comes in the form of an illegal drug. Erin Hildebrandt chronicled her experience with life-threatening vomiting and nausea in her five pregnancies in Mothering magazine and the remedy which finally "saved her,"