Marijuana and Breast Feeding ????

Nurses General Nursing


A relative of mine just had a baby who is now only 2 weeks old. While over at their house I observed the Mom go out to the garage and smoke a "joint" and also drank a shot of tequila which was served by the father of the baby. I asked the Mom if she realized that both substances would get into her breast milk and to the baby when she feeds her. The Mom just sort of blew me off stating that her body will detoxify itself in two hours, -- which personally I know is not true cause the chemical THC found in marijuana - is stored in the body fat, the same place that the breast milk is made. I asked another relative who is staying at the house how long the Mom had been doing this, and she told me this has been going on for about a week. I'm scared for the baby's health and how she will be cared for with her mother being high off of pot. This is her 1st child too. She knows I'm a Nurse but she's not listening to me as far as this being bad for the baby. Would I be wrong if I called child protection ? What should I do ?


1,078 Posts

Specializes in Trauma ICU, MICU/SICU.

If you feel the child is endanger, than a call may be in order.

It's a tough one. Is she young? Is she married? I'm thinking if I smoked a joint and had a shot of tequila, I wouldn't be fit to care for my baby.

It is always a tough choice, but if your gut tells you the baby is in danger...


408 Posts

I would definately report it, but dont be too surprised if DHS doesnt do anything. Also you will have better results if you call it in to a hotline and NOT your local DHS office.

The child will have to test positive before they will prosecute, if they will investigate.

But YOU are a mandatory reporter and you should report it nonetheless.

Hope all goes well for this kiddo.


358 Posts

I'm still a student but I have been told that here in Ontario, if a nurse is aware of a case of abuse or neglect (not rumour, something she/he has seen themselves either first hand or in the form of physical evidence), then she/he MUST report it or lose their licence.

THC is not just stored in body fat... it forms a coating around the neurons in the brain... this relative is making her baby stupid. The alcohol is compounding the effect of the THC. It's a hard thing to do, but she is most certainly not capable of caring for a newborn while under the influence. Maybe an anonymous phone call to CFS? At least they can intervene and educate your relative to the damage that she is doing to the baby. Morally, I would feel an obligation to intervene... an infant can not speak up, nor defend itself.

Additionally, if CFS does nothing to intervene, make another phone call to this relative's parents... I am sure that they would be livid if they knew what their grandchild was being subjected to.


122 Posts

okay, I'm not saying this justifys a thing, but my hippy parents smoked dope- lots of dope, while I was being breast fed( not pregnant, just bf) and thank you very much I turned out fine.

Still, i say sit her down and have a real long hard talk, not just passing advice but a talk, before you break up her family buy calling dshs.


452 Posts

Well first of all, let me say that i don't think a drink or even an occassional drag is a bad thing, i mean lots of women have a glass of wine with dinner and are bf ya know?

HOWEVER, your relative is doing this on a regular basis. That's not ok. EVER. Regularly drinking and smoking pot is NOT a good thing. Her body wont' detox itself in 2 hours, the only way she could justify that is if she were pumping and dumping AFTER 2 hours, it would take the pot that long to cross the breastmilk barrier. If she's smoking regularly tho, its there and there's no 2 hour window. Same for drinking.

Maybe try another approach. Print out some info for her about drug use and breastfeeding, specifically pot. Tell her if she's going to do those things fine, but at least bottle feed so the baby is ok. But if she's going to be doing it regularly, maybe you should make a call to CPS or someone and let them know. This is abuse and neglect, and the real issue at hand here is the baby, not her ya know???


2,099 Posts

Specializes in Corrections, Psych, Med-Surg.

germain writes:"i say sit her down and have a real long hard talk, not just passing advice but a talk, before you break up her family buy calling dshs."

First of all, you did not state that you had adequate familiarity with ANY research that would show harm to this infant from the mother smoking dope now and then and drinking an occasional shot. You might be WRONG, in your presumption, yet you are considering breaking up your family and perhaps that of your relative, by "reporting" this to some authorities.

Secondly, if you are concerned, then do some research on the topic (you will find the results are not all in agreement with each other), then present a synopsis of them to your relative when she is in a position to think about and discuss the matter.

Third, based on the research and her response, you need to think about what would likely cause the greater harm to this child (and to your extended family)--and avoid doing that.

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

97 Articles; 21,237 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

Okay guys maybe I'm the stupid one here but even if she bottle-feeds is she ABLE (read - capable to note if baby cries, needs attention, quits breathing) after smoking dope and drinking ETOH!!!! Come on - this is NEVER okay - when you have children - they must always come first until they are 18 and on their own!!!!!!!!

gwenith, BSN, RN

3,755 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

For information on cannabis and research I like this site. Easy to read and non-biased.

mother/babyRN, RN

11 Articles; 1,587 Posts

Specializes in cardiac, diabetes, OB/GYN.

Our lactation consultants consider drug tainted milk "dirty" and suggest moms not partake.....That said, many of the drug moms I know purposely breast feed while at least in the hospital in order that their babies don't withdraw when they are there....Pot stays in the system for some time....Imagine her poor baby is used to it....


6,620 Posts

Marijuana is considered a soft drug and those moms are allowed to breastfeed because it's still better healthwise for the baby than getting formula. Same goes with methodone, but not any other street drugs (like heroin or cocaine, etc). Milk is not made in fat, btw.


921 Posts

She was probably drinking and smoking pot during her pregnancy, too. I would report this to child protection services.

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