Alcohol, Tobacco, and Cannabis Use during Pregnancy

Pregnant woman relaxing at bedroom

Alcohol during Pregnancy

There is no safe amount of alcohol to imbibe while pregnant. We recommend avoiding all alcohol during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol can cause birth defects and abnormal brain development.

Tobacco during Pregnancy

If you smoke or use tobacco (including vaping or chewing), so does your baby. This is a very important fact of pregnancy. You should avoid both using any tobacco products and secondhand smoke while pregnant and nursing.

Known complications from smoking during pregnancy include:

Low Birth Weight  

Low birth weight can be caused by premature (birth less than 37 weeks), poor growth, or a combination of both. Prematurity is increased in pregnant smokers and is the number one cause of neonatal death and chronic illness in babies. Problems such as cerebral palsy, life-long lung, kidney, or other organ problems, mental retardation and learning disabilities are much more common in premature and low birth weight babies. 

Placenta Previa

Low-lying placenta that covers part or all of the opening to the uterus. Placenta previa blocks the exit of the baby from the uterus causing the mother to bleed. 

Placenta Abruption

The placenta tears away from from the uterus causing the mother to bleed. 

Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes

The water breaks before 37 weeks and is associated with an increase of preterm and low birth weight births. 


The fetus dies in the uterus.

Cannabis (Marijuana: THC/CBD)  Use

Cannabis use in pregnancy use is not recommended. Cannabis passes from the mother to the developing fetus through the placenta. Cannabis use during pregnancy may make it difficult for your child to pay attention and learn, especially as your child grows older. 

In addition, The American Academy of Pediatrics states that breastfeeding mothers should not use cannabis products

Cannabis enters breast milk and is stored in body fat, so it stays in your body for a long time. Your baby’s brain and body are made up of a lot of fat, therefore your baby’s brain and body may also store THC for a long time. Lastly, second-hand cannabis smoke inhalation has been associated with altered consciousness in the infant and should be avoided. 


Tatiana M. Anderson, Juan M. Lavista Ferres, Shirley You Ren, Rachel Y. Moon, Richard D. Goldstein, Jan-Marino Ramirez, Edwin A. Mitchell “Maternal Smoking Before and During Pregnancy and the Risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death.” Pediatrics. Apr 2019.

“How Smoking Affects You and Your Baby during Pregnancy” Cleveland Clinic. 1 January 2018.

Sheryl A. Ryan, Seth D. Ammerman, Mary E. O’Connor. “Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Implications for Neonatal and Childhood Outcomes.” Pediatrics. Sep. 2018.


If you’ve lost a pregnancy or infant child, you can find support and resources for healing through MEND (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death).

You are not alone

If you experience any kind of depression after child birth, it is important to talk to your doctor right away. Your provider will likely recommend a combination of medication and counseling.

Go to Pregnancy Resource Guide