To identify perceptions of risks and benefits of cannabis use during pregnancy and postpartum from the patient perspective.
Pregnant and postpartum (up to 3 months) women residing in a state that legalized the sale of recreational cannabis in 2012 were interviewed to determine their perceptions of risks and benefits of cannabis use during pregnancy and postpartum. Qualitative description methodology was used to identify common themes in the data. Nineteen (n = 14 pregnant; n = 5 post-partum) women who used cannabis daily while pregnant were interviewed about perceptions of risks and benefits of cannabis use during pregnancy and postpartum.
Five themes, describing the participants’ cannabis use while pregnant and postpartum, emerged from the data. These themes include (1) continued use for health management, (2) ongoing evaluative process, (3) mixed messages, (4) wanting more information, and (5) legal considerations. All 5 of these themes contributed to the overarching theme of Taking Care of Mom and Baby, which encompasses the mother's need and struggle to care for her own health and wellness, as well as that of her unborn baby.
In a state with legalized recreational cannabis, pregnant and postpartum women reported continuing daily cannabis use during pregnancy to take care of themselves and their baby. It is crucial for healthcare providers to follow national guidelines and explain risks of cannabis use during pregnancy and postpartum, while also managing expectations based on patient history. A harm reduction approach to decrease cannabis use is vital to help pregnant women who are using cannabis for health management to continuously evaluate their use during pregnancy and postpartum.