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Cannabis and Pregnancy

Filed in: research

BACKGROUND:

In our work at DEN we have had the opportunity to collaborate with the Department of Psychology at the University of Tasmania to identify research gaps in connection with attitudes and understanding about drug and alcohol use in the Tasmanian Community.

We recognised that there was a gap in understanding about knowledge and attitudes to cannabis use during pregnancy and so as a result, in 2018 Georgia Figg completed her Masters Thesis on the topic of: Tasmanian Women’s Attitudes Towards Cannabis Use During Pregnancy.

Our intention was to translate this research into practice and provide health care and alcohol and drug workers with more insight into how they can better respond to and work with pregnant women in Tasmania. I would like to acknowledge the work of Georgia Figg in undertaking this research and her supervisor Allison Matthews. I would also like to acknowledge the women who took part in the research which has provided us with more insight into what pregnant women need, in terms of health information and support. I would also like to acknowledge the midwives who took the time to review and provide valuable feedback on this resource.

A screenshot of the Questions about Cannabis resource. Features black text on white and light orange blocks and a bright orange heading.

RESOURCE OVERVIEW:

The resource provides an overview of current usage of cannabis in Australia and internationally as well as attitudes to cannabis use. There is also a summary of health effects of cannabis use during pregnancy.

Figg’s research findings describe, in particular, Tasmanian women’s attitudes to cannabis as well as a discussion of reasons for using cannabis during pregnancy.

This is followed by a number of recommendations for health workers to consider in how they incorporate gender responsive approaches when working with pregnant women. What we mean by that is the importance of establishing a respectful and non-judgmental relationship that provides a space for women to talk about their cannabis use and feel supported to explore in what ways they would like to make change.

Suggested models for undertaking a brief intervention are explained as well, based on the work of Nathoo and Brandon, which include examples of questions that workers can use at each stage of a brief intervention.

Finally there is a separate handout that can be provided for pregnant women to explore common myths and beliefs about cannabis that can be worked through during a health appointment. This handout also includes a plain English adaptation of lower risk cannabis use guidelines, in the instances where abstinence is not an identified goal.
The hard copy version of these resources can be ordered by visiting the Drug Education Network resources page: https://www.den.org.au/resources/