Cannabis, perinatality and social representations

Emerging scientific data demonstrates that the consumption of cannabis by the mother in the perinatal period can lead to harmful consequences in the child. However, despite the official medical contraindications, some women maintain this habit during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Social representations are among the factors that influence women’s decision to use cannabis or not during the perinatal period. Social representations refer to a set of opinions, beliefs, attitudes, social norms and perceptions articulated in social relationships, personal experiences and those of those around them. Despite the relevance of documenting this question, few studies have been conducted to answer it and, consequently, the findings presented in this summary must be interpreted with caution.

The purpose of this synthesis is to describe the social representations of pregnant and breastfeeding women in the light of research carried out on the subject and to identify more specifically the factors influencing the perception of the health risk associated with cannabis consumption. in the perinatal period.

The results of the synthesis show that:

  • the majority of women in the surveys believe it is unsafe to use cannabis during the perinatal period;
  • some pregnant women maintain the belief that cannabis is a natural substance and therefore safe for the unborn child;
  • the favorable opinion conveyed by the immediate environment on cannabis seems to support cannabis consumption behaviors among pregnant and breastfeeding women;
  • the negative social labels attached to cannabis use by pregnant women seem to influence the decision of some women to reduce or even stop their cannabis use;
  • some pregnant women believe that cannabis consumption helps them relieve their stress, sleep disorders, nausea, loss of appetite in particular;
  • the information shared by health professionals on the risks associated with cannabis use in the perinatal period appears summary and non-specific in the eyes of some women;
  • pregnant or breast-feeding women whose opinion is most favorable to cannabis use are often younger, generally have a low income or a low level of education, and use one or more psychoactive substances.

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