Does Legal Mean Safe?

Being Intentional about Discussing Marijuana Use in the PMC

Marijuana use in pregnant women is growing in popularity.  A few pro-marijuana websites tote the benefits of decreased nausea and increased appetite while questioning whether adequate studies have been done on the potential side effects on both mother and baby.  More and more states including my own state of Nevada have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and many others have legalized it for medicinal use.   Should we be surprised that up to 10 percent of pregnant women report using marijuana? (AWHONN.  “Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Exposes Mom and Baby to Health Risks”.  AWHONN Press Release, 15 Nov 2015.  Accessed 20 Sept 2017.)  In addition, we know that upwards of 50% of pregnancies are unintended, so women who may routinely smoke marijuana may not even know they are exposing their baby to its effects.

How could this impact their pregnancy decision?

Will some women believe that marijuana is no big deal and continue to use it, or will they believe they have done irreparable harm to their baby and choose to abort?

More and more evidence that marijuana use in pregnancy can cause harmful maternal and fetal side effects is being published. Organizations such as ACOG (The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) and AWHONN (Association of Women’s Health Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses) encourage health care providers to be intentional about asking women about their drug use, counsel them about these concerns, and discourage drug use during pregnancy.

Working in a Pregnancy Medical Center gives you a unique and valuable opportunity to be intentional about the way you impact your community through your nursing practice. The Code of Ethics for Nurses states, “The nurse has authority, accountability, and responsibility for nursing practice; makes decisions; and takes action consistent with the obligation to promote health and to provide optimal care.” (The American Nurses Association. “Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements.” Silver Spring, Maryland, 2015, p 15.)

You can be intentional about asking women about marijuana and other drug use.

You can be intentional about learning the information needed to teach pregnant women about marijuana and other drug use in an evidence-based, loving, non-judgmental, pro-life clinical setting.

You can be intentional about learning motivational interview techniques to encourage and coach your patient instead of to scare and shame your patient.

Florence Nightingale said, “Nursing in an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit?” (Nightingale, Florence. “Una and the Lion”, 1871, p. 6. Accessed 20 Sept 2017.)

Here’s a helpful and informative resource from ACOG to help you be intentional about cultivating your art:

Kari Haug
Director of Nurse Operations
Sparrow Solutions Group

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