New mom in Oregon told she can’t breastfeed her newborn

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Story by: KATU Portland, Oregon–

A new mother in Oregon says doctors won’t allow her to breastfeed her baby. It’s because she uses medical marijuana.
KATU’s Bob Heye reports on how the hospital where she gave birth has come up with a compromise.

Crystal Cain couldn’t have been happier when she delivered her little girl Karrisma at OHSU on Wednesday, even though she delivered eight weeks premature. The baby needed an incubator to survive.

“She’s going to be okay, they said. They took her off of all of her breathing machines yesterday and they gave her a trial run and they say she’s doing absolutely fine,” Cain said on Saturday.

Knowing how important breast milk is to a baby’s immune system, Crystal planned on breastfeeding, until…

“They’re refusing to allow me to breastfeed,” she said.

Crystal is a medical marijuana cardholder. She’d been smoking marijuana during her pregnancy, on her midwife’s advice, Crystal says, for anxiety and nausea.
She isn’t worry about THC, the compound in marijuana that gets you high, in her bloodstream or breastmilk.

“There are several studies that indicate that it doesn’t, it can’t transfer through your milk ducts. Your body automatically kind of filters it,” Crystal says.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against it. OHSU decided on a middle ground.

“We had the mom sign a waiver acknowledging the use of marijuana and the potential risks involved in it,” says Dr. Charles Kilo, OHSU Chief Medical Officer.

The hospital says it’s like warning a new mom against smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

“We do understand the benefits of mothers’ milk. We also don’t want to be caught in a situation where a mother continues to use and says that we never gave her information on it, never informed about the risks, and so it’s really a way of documenting that the parents acknowledge the risks. And we can’t stop her from using it,” Dr. Kilo added.

“I’m saying there’s not enough information because nobody tests it. It’s such a touchy subject that nobody wants to mess with it,” Cain said.

After signing the waiver, Crystal was able to begin breastfeeding.


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