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Idle speculation - cannabis for labour?

(28 Posts)
Spudulika Wed 25-May-11 13:53:43

Not pregnant myself but have been mulling over whether smoking a spliff would help in labour. Do remember thinking about it when I was pregnant with ds (who's now 5) but feeling defeated by the effort and worry involved with getting hold of some, as don't know anyone who sells it.

So - your thoughts?

The only info I can find at the moment is from a cannabis medical dictionary which says:

"And marijuana is historically reported to ease the pain of childbirth by relaxing uterine contractions. Prior to 1970, when America became subject to a sharp increase of anti-marijuana propaganda, the effects of cannabis during labor were openly discussed in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

The sensation of pain is distinctly lessened or entirely absent and the sense of touch is less acute than normally. Hence a woman in labor may have a more or less painless labor. If a sufficient amount of the drug is taken, the patient may fall into a tranquil sleep from which she will awaken refreshed. As far as is known, a baby born of a mother intoxicated with cannabis will not be abnormal in anyway.[i]"

My way of thinking is that if it's a toss up between cannabis or pethidine, then cannabis (from my very limited reading) would win hands-down if we're thinking about dangerous side effects for mum and baby.

I like the idea of it being a muscle relaxant - wonder if that might help make contractions less painful. Or might it make them less effective? But then pethidine is a fairly powerful muscle relaxant isn't it?

meditrina Wed 25-May-11 13:55:06

Really bad idea. Legality aside, it could react unpredictably with other drugs you might need - including those for epidural if EMCS needed.

MerylStrop Wed 25-May-11 13:58:29

Wouldn't it make you throw up? Cannabis always used to make me throw up (as I vaguely recall from my derelict youth)

Er, try hypnotism and deep relaxation instead?

TBH in labour I am high as a kite anyway just off the contractions anyway so I wouldn't fancy it

expatinscotland Wed 25-May-11 13:59:38

I think I'd put it in yoghurt rather than a spliff.

loosingthewilltoo Wed 25-May-11 14:01:21

i think for other pain then yeah but a common argument is that your smoking it while pregnant tut tut and it would be like would you give your new born baby that? the same can be said for the legal drugs too. lucky for me i'm hardcore (stupid more like) and gave birth with no drugs.
But then you would need to legalize cannabis and this will never happen!! imagine the tax on it sad hahahaha.

CroissantNeuf Wed 25-May-11 14:01:58

In my (extremely limited) experience of smoking cannabis I wouldn't have said it would be a good idea -if I'd tried it for example, I could imagine feeling that I couldn't be arsed to give birth and would just want to lie around eating junk and going to sleep. grin

loosingthewilltoo Wed 25-May-11 14:04:30

croissantneuf exactly i wouldnt wanna laugh in my new born babies face either smile

CroissantNeuf Wed 25-May-11 14:05:35

or getting such a fit of the giggles that you roll off the delivery bed onto the floor

loosingthewilltoo Wed 25-May-11 14:09:32

yeah i think safer to avoid and just repeat im a cabbage im a cabbage i feel no pain smile kick a midwife and headbutt your birthing patner smile hahaha!

Spudulika Wed 25-May-11 14:33:11

"Really bad idea"

Given that pethidine , a class A drug, with loads of known side effects for babies, how can it be more sensible to take that than to take cannabis?

Except I suppose that there are studies setting out what the dangers are. And of course although cannabis has been used in childbirth for centuries there's no modern research into its use as it's illegal.

Seems a shame really. It's like - 'here, have this heroin. We know it may interfere with your baby's breathing, but we're prepared for that as we know it happens'. Whereas cannabis has been in common use in the population for centuries and hasn't ever been associated with any deaths or serious physical harm.

Would love someone to do some research into this.

meditrina Wed 25-May-11 14:40:18

A known dose, even of an opiate, administered by trained staff for specific effect is quite different from an unknown quantity of a drug of variable strength which may interact unpredictably with other drugs which may be medically indicated.

If it was researched, indicated and prescribed, it would be quite a different picture.

Spudulika Wed 25-May-11 14:44:57

"from an unknown quantity of a drug of variable strength which may interact unpredictably with other drugs which may be medically indicated"

If it was researched, indicated and prescribed, it would be quite a different picture.

Yes. But it never will be while it's illegal. Despite it having probably been used effectively for centuries for labouring mums.

Have to say, I do have difficulty getting my head around the idea that it's OK to have a powerful drug that's known to have dangerous side-effects, but not ok to have a much less powerful drug that's been in use for centuries and has never been associated with physical harm. (at least not in light/one off use. I appreciate that long term use of cannabis is harmful and that some vulnerable people may develop psychosis after using skunk)

Thornykate Wed 25-May-11 16:04:54

I dont use cannabis anyway but i think it is a bad idea in
Pg as cannabis these days is different to that of the old days not just due to a lot higher THC, other chemicals are added as part of cultivation & this is unregulated.

Me personally, I would worry about subjecting any developing brain to strong psychotropic drugs more than I would a controlled opiate. I know some people would argue that pethidine can cause perceptional disturbances but I personally have never seen anyone with pethidine induced psychosis IYSWIM

loosingthewilltoo Wed 25-May-11 16:11:37

it won't be seen as a good medical drug because of the well know stigma thats attached to it along with the side effects and addictiveness which can be said about all drugs its one of those subjects that you can discuss till your blue in the face it has pros and cons and ppl will always be on either side and lets face it politians have the final say!

Tolalola Wed 25-May-11 16:17:26

Wouldn't it really slow everything down?

RubyBuckleberry Wed 25-May-11 19:56:39

The work of Melanie Dreher in Jamaica is very interesting.

I think it is a great idea if it so takes your fancy and a lot more sensible than taking pethidine or an epidural.

Also Dr Hale thinks its basically 'irrelevant' I think was the word he used.

'from an unknown quantity of a drug of variable strength which may interact unpredictably with other drugs which may be medically indicated.'

That is hilarious, and not just a little bit naive. a joint fgs, as opposed to 'medically indicated' pharmaceutical grade heroin. er, that's totally upside down isn't it?!

And the idea that cannabis these days is a lot stronger than it was in the old days. That depends entirely on where you get it from. Nepali charis and Morrocan pollen has been around for centuries, probably used by women throughout the ages to help with childbirth.

RubyBuckleberry Wed 25-May-11 19:57:39

here, more Melanie Dreher

RubyBuckleberry Wed 25-May-11 20:03:40

this is pregnancy and childbirth specific

Spudulika Wed 25-May-11 22:47:24

"Wouldn't it really slow everything down?"

No - it would just make it seem that way! grin

PipPipPip Wed 25-May-11 23:05:58

Considering how much I ate after labour, I shudder to think what would have happened had I smoked a joint beforehand grin

meditrina Thu 26-May-11 06:22:11

Thanks for saying it's "hilarious" to point out that the dose of the active drug you get from a spliff is variable. Even in that post you admit that the strength depends on origin. Not all types are readily available, and there is no obligation for it to be accurately described.

The right dose of diamorphine can be used very safely by doctors.

buttonmoon78 Thu 26-May-11 08:02:02

My own point of view is that the quoted research in the OP is 30-40 years old. Pethidine etc are constantly reviewed and researched. So I'd rather place my safety and that of my child in current research.

I mean, in the late 60s & 70s they were still telling you smoking was a good idea. And that bf was not better than ff. And that babies could be spoiled by cuddles. And seatbelts were not compulsory. And that asbestos was ok (even though they knew it wasn't).

I'll stick with medicine ta!

VivaLeBeaver Thu 26-May-11 08:09:58

Well the idea of it relaxing uterine contractions doesn't sound ideal. If uterine contractions are relaxed you're not going to get very far.

hester Thu 26-May-11 08:16:38

I only have anecdote, no evidence, but [whispers] I was born under the influence of cannabis. Easiest labour EVER - I rolled out in the waiting room.

BUT, before you get too excited: the same trick was tried for my younger brother. HORRENDOUS labour, went on for three days.

I have worked with midwives who told me that plenty of women do smoke cannabis during labour - usually during home birth, obviously - but they had no real sense of whether it helps or hinders, either.

So there you go. Personally I wouldn't go there, for so many reasons, but not least because of VivaLeBeaver's point: you actually don't want to relax your uterine contractions. You would also be putting the midwife in a very difficult position.

RubyBuckleberry Thu 26-May-11 13:46:30

sorry meditrina, no offence meant grin - i was just genuinely laughing at the idea of heroin being placed above a joint - even of the strongest skunk there is - in terms of safety for the mother and more importantly baby, particularly given what we know about the effect of drugs such as pethidine and heroin on the initiation of breastfeeding.

personally, i am not sure i would feel like a joint in a hospital setting - maybe a relaxed home birth - but it would all feel a bit hectic i imagine...

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