Marijuana in the Treatment of Hyperemesis Gravidarum
By Lisa "Mamakind" Kirkman

 After a missed second-trimester miscarriage attributed to severe dehydration, malnutrition and stress caused by hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), I became pregnant for a third time (I didn't suffer from severe HG with my first) and from minute one, I was as sick... more sick than I was with the previous pregnancy, anyway. Nausea and vomiting would wake me up in the morning and continue throughout the day, until I could finally fall asleep. I stopped taking prenatal vitamins with iron and my GP prescribed every anti-nauseant/emetic available:

  •  Vitamin B6

  • Diclectin

  • Maxeran

  • Gravol

  • Ginger root

 And a couple more whose names have escaped me. Naturally, I was very hesitant in taking anything while pregnant (I'm not so young that I don't remember Thalidomide), but I was told that both my life and the baby's were in jeopardy. I was a regular cannabis consumer before I was pregnant and ironically, I had just opened up a medicinal cannabis dispensary in the small BC community I was living in, so I was already very familiar with cannabis' anti-nauseant/anti-emetic effects in relation to dispensary members who suffered from the severe side effects of cancer, hepatitis and AIDS therapies. I brought the all of the anecdotal evidence I could find on the subject to my GP and OB/GYN and they both supported my trying cannabis.

 My nausea control looked like this:

 While I couldn't control the nausea that would wake me up first thing in the morning, after I had that first trip to the bathroom, I'd go back to bed and take a few puffs off of a small, pre-rolled joint I kept near the bed. This calmed my stomach down enough that I could keep small sips of water down. Once that was accomplished, I'd get up and crumble a cannabis-laced cookie in some milk and eat it like porridge (this had the added bonus of delivering much needed calories). Then I'd have another few puffs, so the cookie would stay down. The cookie's long-lasting effects meant that my stomach would remain somewhat settled until the evening, when I'd repeat the cookie- in-milk and small puffs routine. At best, the smoked cannabis was strong and fast-acting, allowing me to keep down the cookie & milk while not only relieving my HG, but actually giving me an appetite so I could stomach more food and keep hydrated. At worst, I'd spend time in the hospital because not even the cannabis would help. I would request injections of Gravol, because although it didn't help my nausea much and in fact, killed my appetite, it knocked me out and when I was asleep I wasn't sick.

 I was seven months into my pregnancy before I gained the weight back to where I started the pregnancy and my doctors were afraid that my baby was so undernourished that she wouldn't gain enough weight to be delivered in the local semi-rural hospital (minimum 5lbs). So I spent two-weeks in North Vancouver's Lion's Gate Hospital.

 When I was first admitted, I had already spent a few days in the hospital where I didn't have access to cannabis and I couldn't eat or drink anything. I was so sick and so desperate (and bedridden) that I tried to have a puff through an open window in the bathroom. My high risk OB/GYN caught me and told me that although she knows why I was doing it and she condoned it, I just couldn't be smoking marijuana IN the hospital peri-natal unit, of course.

 So, I started a routine of telling the nurses I was going out to get some fresh air and I'd wheel myself (I was restricted to a wheelchair) and my IV pole to a semi-secluded spot away from the hospital doors and I'd smoke a small joint. I think that because I didn't look pregnant (and this was BC after all), people assumed I was a cancer patient and generally ignored me. When I finished, I would have a good hour when I actually felt hungry, so I'd pick up a cream soup (I needed the fats in the soup so the trichomes I'd later dump in the bowl would blend) & a sandwich from the cafeteria, go back to my room, take a shower to erase the smell, eat and feel sane for a while. The nurses always commented on how the fresh air always seemed to rejuvenate me... little did they know!

 I was very afraid that the nausea would render me useless in labour and I would have to have to be given Pitocin, an epidural and when that didn't work, a c-section, like my first labour. After noting many reports of midwives throughout history using marijuana in childbirth for its low-toxicity, oxytocic, analgesic and anti-nausea/ emetic effects, I planned things out a bit. When I woke up in labour, the first thing I did was smoke a large joint and ate a large cannabis-laced cookie. I then went to the hospital without too much nausea. Once there, throughout the next few hours I ate five more cannabis-laced cookies (these were organic cookies with plenty of hulled hemp seed to give me the strength needed for labour). My doctors were aware of my birth plan and though they offered an epidural, it wasn't needed.

 I gave birth vaginally, without incident or medical intervention, to a beautiful, healthy girl (6lbs 1oz) and my HG immediately ceased.

 On a side note, my daughter's first solid food after breast milk was ground, hulled hemp seed, because it's nutritionally superior in every way (and more easily digestible) to the rice cereal that pediatricians currently recommend and she's now a beautiful, intelligent, healthy six-and-a-half year old.


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