Laurel Wilson, IBCLC, CLE, CCCE, CLD

Keynote Presentation

Up In Smoke Updated: The Potential Implications of Cannabis Use on Babies During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

As the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana increases around the world, the concern for families has expanded. Around the world, countries and states have recently legalized or are on the path to legalizing or decriminalizing the consumption of marijuana (cannabis). This trend has led to more lactation support providers and healthcare professionals being faced with the question, “Is it safe to use marijuana during human milk feeding?” The answers given vary widely and this is due largely to myth, bias, and poorly conducted and accessed research. The Medications and Mother’s Milk Guide considers cannabis to be an L4 while Lactnet states that it is preferable for users to continue breastfeeding and yet minimize the baby’s exposure to smoke. Differing recommendations lead healthcare professionals to scratch their heads and face the knowledge that they just don’t know what to say to mothers. Additionally, there are reports of social services removing babies from homes due to parental marijuana use while breastfeeding. An entirely newly discovered system (the endocannabinoid system) within the human interacts with marijuana and is largely responsible for brain development, homeostasis, and much more. Discover how and why cannabis chemicals can potentially change a babies brain development and epigenome. This presentation looks at the most recent research, policies, and equity issues surrounding this controversial herb.


Speaker Presentation

Science of the Mother Baby Bond: How Attachment Impacts Epigenetics, Brain Development & Stress

Attachment begins during pregnancy, not in the moments, weeks, and years post birth. This attachment, the motherbaby bond, is forged through an awareness of the biological and emotional connection between mother and child from the very earliest moments of conception. The internal world of the mother and child is now known to be a strong influence in the behavior, health, and personality of a child. This crucial prenatal period is impacted by emotional and nutritional experience of the mother and has a lot to do with who babies turn out to be. The prenatal attachment that occurs, regardless of a mother’s conscious awareness, is changing the brain development, personality, and genetic expression of her baby. At no other time in their child’s life do parents influence who that child will be, both emotionally and physically, than during the 0-3 period of life. We now know that prenatal chronic stress leads to babies who cry more, sleep less, and are anxious. A mother’s thoughts create chemical signals that literally form her baby’s brain and lead to a happy or anxious child. Mothers have the ability to influence healthy brain development and genetic expression during pregnancy through the motherbaby bond. This presentation discusses epigenetics, brain development, molecular messaging between mother and baby, and the impact of stress on the baby’s future health.

CERP: 1.5 L


Laurel Wilson, IBCLC, CLE, CCCE, CLD is an author, international speaker and pregnancy and lactation expert. She served as the Executive Director of Lactation Programs for CAPPA, the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association for 16 years and now is on the Senior Advisor Board. She is on the Board of Directors for the United States Breastfeeding Committee and also on the Advisory Board for InJoy Health. She owns MotherJourney, focusing on training perinatal professionals on integrative and holistic information regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. She has her degree in Maternal Child Health: Lactation Consulting and is an internationally board certified lactation consultant. Wilson is the co-author of two books, The Attachment Pregnancy and The Greatest Pregnancy Ever and contributing author to Round the Circle: Doulas Talk About Themselves. She loves to blend today’s recent scientific findings with the mind/body/spirit wisdom. Laurel has been joyfully married to her husband for more than two and a half decades and has two wonderful grown sons, whose difficult births led her on a path towards helping emerging families create positive experiences. She believes that the journey into parenthood is a life-changing rite of passage that should be deeply honored and celebrated.
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