Labour & Menstrual Problems
One of the biggest medical uses of cannabis in the 19th century was for the treatment of menstrual cramps and reduction of labour pain. Queen Victoria was prescribed cannabis for this reason by her physician J.R. Reynolds. Yet there is nothing mentioned in 20th century medical literature. Possibly we have a such a fear of the unborn child being harmed by its mother’s drug taking that any research on this subject would leave the researcher open to attack. However studies in populations that use cannabis socially (Costa Rica and Jamaica) have shown that there is no negative effect on the unborn child. The studies that do show a negative effect need to be checked to make sure that it is not some other factor such as poverty that causes the effect. Ellen Komp has spent a lot of time researching the subject and she has written this article for Holy Smoke magazine, which sums up the scientific knowledge.
Despite the controversy, many women have experimented with cannabis, and have found that it does control menstrual cramps, makes labour quicker and less painful and relieves the nausea (morning sickness) associated with pregnancy. If severe nausea is reducing the mother’s food intake, then the child may be harmed by not taking cannabis.
An anonymous 37-year old American housewife who used cannabis at the births of her second and third children, and found them a lot easier than her first……
“I am a 37-year old housewife. I run a small business, volunteer in my daughters’ school and chaperone class trips. I appear to be “straight” and many of neighbours and acquaintances have no idea I smoke marihuana. I have had painful menstrual cramps for many years. In 1976 a laparoscopy revealed ovarian cysts and endometriosis. I was told that the endometriosis would return after an operation, so I decided not to have one. I had hormone shots for several months, but stopped because I was afraid of cancer. Prescription painkillers made me feel too drugged to function efficiently as a mother. At that time I used pot as a recreational drug, smoking it socially with friends, and I accidentally found out that it also relieved my menstrual cramps. Now most of my friends don’t even know I smoke, but I light up as soon as my menstrual period starts.
I had my first baby in 1972, when I was only 17. The doctors gave me a shot to put me to sleep and when I woke up I had a very lethargic baby. We spent 3 days in the hospital. In 1979, when I had my second baby, I went to the natural childbirth classes and later smoked pot on the way to the hospital. It greatly relaxed me and thus relieved some of the pain, but the effect only lasted about an hour and a half. I was in the hospital for only twenty hours this time, and I was amazed at how much more alert and hungry the second baby was compared to my first poor drugged baby.
In 1991 I became pregnant again. In my seventh month, I became nauseated, had heartburn, and began to vomit 2 to 4 times a day – so much that I wasn’t gaining weight. The doctor decided the cause was pressure from the baby on the valve at the top of my stomach. I began smoking pot before meals, and after that I vomited only twice a week. The baby weighed nine pounds at birth. I wonder how small she might have been if I hadn’t used my favourite anti-nausea drug.
This time when I had the baby I stayed home and smoked pot for the first 7 hours of labour. I delivered less than 3 hours after arriving at the hospital, and the pain was no problem until the pot wore off, just before I delivered. This time I was not surprised that the baby was alert and hungry. We went home 6 hours after birth; I spent less than 9 hours at the hospital, and wasn’t even billed for a whole day”.