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Psychedelic Therapy For Pregnant & Breastfeeding Mothers

From conception to pregnancy to birth to postpartum, motherhood is filled with revolving transition and transformation. It can be a time filled with immense joy, excitement, and the anticipation of bringing new life into the world. 

However, expectant mothers are often grappling with the expectations and pressures surrounding motherhood, as well as unforeseen challenges, which can cast a shadow and leave them struggling with uncertainty and anxiety. 

In the midst of this delicate phase, it’s important to foster open dialogue, embrace informed decision-making, and openly explore alternative therapeutic approaches that can support maternal well-being without stigma.

We believe that every individual should have access to comprehensive information and the freedom to make personal decisions regarding their mental health and well-being.

This article takes us deep into the topic of therapeutic and personal psychedelic usage for mothers, and the potential benefits, safety concerns, and cultural factors of this compelling discussion. 

We will also share some powerful insights from our interview with Mikaela of Mama De La Myco, a beautiful platform and community which is centering decolonization and rematriation of entheogenic medicines.

 

The Need For Mental Health Treatments in Motherhood

When we talk about psychedelic medicines for use during motherhood, this really encompasses all parts of life for the womb-holder. Plant medicines have been supportive for people all throughout life:

    • Preconception 

    • First trimester 

    • Second trimester

    • Third trimester 

    • Fourth trimester and postpartum 

    • Motherhood

    • Menopause

Birthing people may find themselves navigating a complex role where their own needs become overshadowed by the focus on the well-being of the fetus or infant. 

Unfortunately, allopathic medicine falls short in providing the necessary level of support needed, especially when it comes to treating mental health concerns beyond staying on an SSRI or other medication.

According to the CDC as of April of this year, 9 in 10 pregnant women take medications, and some are potentially dangerous for the fetus while going off of the medication could be dangerous for the mother. 

It is crucial to acknowledge that this decision can indeed have an impact on the baby, considering that substances like SSRIs and other medications easily pass through the placenta and can be transmitted through breast milk after birth.

This is a delicate issue which needs to be treated on a case by case basis, but one thing is for sure: there is a need for more robust and safe mental health treatments for mothers and birthing people.

Furthermore, when we delve into the topic of postpartum depression (which we covered in a previous article), PPD poses a significant challenge for pregnant individuals and those hoping to conceive. 

We also have to acknowledge that giving birth alone can be traumatic. As Mikaela says in her book Entheogenic Earth Medicine Assisted Motherhood, “Much of what birthing people will label as postpartum depression are the repercussions of traumatic birth experiences.”

“Many birthing people who undergo traumatic birth experiences face consent issues that can trigger sexual trauma experiences of the past as well as set foundations for shame and disgust of their own body and their own ability to assert agency over their own bodies,” Mikaela said. 

This clear connection between traumatic birthing experiences and the onset of PPD encapsulates so many issues including unmet expectations, emergency or elective cesarean sections (Xu et al., 2017), and the topic of consent within the birthing process.

 

The Potential Benefits: Why Psychedelics?

The use of psychedelics in the context of motherhood may seem unconventional at first glance, but there are compelling reasons why they could offer unique benefits during this transformative journey. 

Psychedelics, known for their profound effects on consciousness and perception, have shown promising results in the treatment of various mental health conditions.

One of the primary benefits of psychedelics is their potential to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD

According to our interview with Mikaela, some benefits include:

“increased visual acuity, loss of strict boundaries, increased sense of connectedness, increased creativity, access to repressed memories, emotional regularity, decreased anxiety and so much more.”

For expectant mothers and new mothers who may be grappling with the challenges and emotional rollercoaster associated with this period of time, psychedelics could offer a pathway to explore and address underlying emotional issues.

Additionally, psychedelics have shown efficacy in assisting individuals during transitional phases of life. The journey into motherhood is undoubtedly a significant transition, characterized by profound physical, emotional, and psychological changes. 

Psychedelics can support individuals in navigating this transition by providing insights, fostering personal growth, and facilitating a deeper connection with oneself and the world around them.

Moreover, the benefits extend beyond personal transformation. These substances have the capacity to enhance creativity, increase empathy, and promote a sense of interconnectedness. 

These qualities can contribute to nurturing a positive and supportive environment for both the mother and her child.

Given that psychedelics are being studied and shown to be extremely effective antidepressant alternatives, why should SSRIs be ok for the fetus but not plant medicines?

While further research is needed to fully understand the specific benefits and risks of psychedelic use in the context of motherhood, we can lean on anecdotal stories and indigenous and historical lineages which we will address a bit later in the article.

 

Are Psychedelics Safe For Infants During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding?

The issue of safety during gestation is complex and may vary situationally, depending on the dose and potency, the individual’s sensitivity, and many other factors. 

Because we can’t ask the infant what they are experiencing when a mother takes psychedelic medicine, we have to rely on historical evidence and scientific research that helps paint us a picture. 

Assuming that both SSRIs and psychedelic substances cross the placenta and blood brain barriers as well as are found in breast milk, why would one be safer than the other?

The best we can do is assess the general safety of both pharmaceuticals and earth medicines, and we already covered how psychedelics can help women’s health and menopause.

Just this month (June of 2023), WebMD put together an updated list of what prescription medications, over the counter medications, and supplements and herbs to avoid while pregnant. 

On lists of what cross the blood-brain barrier are opioids, SSRIs & other antidepressants, as well as anti-anxiety medications. 

Aside from the historical evidence we will cover later, psilocybin and mescaline are safer than aspirin and morphine and that psilocybin in particular is one of the least toxic and dangerous of the hallucinogens.  

“The results of this year’s GDS were recently released, and reveal that psilocybin – the active psychedelic compound found in “magic mushrooms” – is responsible for fewer emergency medical treatments than any other drug in the world, with just 0.2% of its users having sought out medical help in the past year. 

Psilocybin has not only been found to be non-toxic and harmless to human health, but also remarkably effective at treating depression, even in cases where other treatment modalities have failed” (MAPS, 2017).

According to the NIH, there is no current research being done on psychedelics during gestation, during breastfeeding, to assess birth defect risks, or to assess effects on fertility in both the father and mother (2021).

Given the lack of direct and obvious research on this topic, we can only rely on the general safety of entheogens according to traditional and modern use, which suggests general safety.

 

Determining Appropriate Therapeutic Dosage

When it comes to utilizing any and all earth medicines, the key lies in proper dosing. What determines whether psychedelics are helpful or detrimental? Are we talking about microdosing? Large or macro dosing? 

Like any substance, it’s the responsible and informed use that allows us to harness the potential benefits while minimizing risks. 

Just as certain vital nutrients can be toxic if taken at large doses, it is important to acknowledge dosage as the defining feature that makes something poisonous or medicinal. 

Similarly, “poisons” like ergot and belladonna have medicinal uses at small enough doses. The point is that this idea that some things are poisonous and some aren’t is likely a gross oversimplification.

“Higher dosing is actually a really interesting and critical part for some people’s journey with preparing for their children to be here, whether that’s preconception or during pregnancy. 

I do support and have been in spaces and in ceremonial space with people who desire to become pregnant, and often higher dose journeys can open up the potential for conception to occur more rapidly…

and I’ve also been in ceremony with people that have discovered that they were pregnant during ceremony and didn’t know it before then.” —Mikaela

Some mushroom mothers have reported the following doses:

    • 0.1-.5g as a microdose (taken first trimester, during postpartum, and while breastfeeding)

    • .5-1.5g as a threshold dose (taken second and third trimesters, during postpartum, and while breastfeeding)1.5-5g as a full dose (taken 

    • second and third trimesters, before labor, during postpartum, and while breastfeeding)

    • 5g+ (taken further into motherhood, on the tail end of breastfeeding/ weaned, I’ve also heard of women taking these doses during pregnancy, however, feel this is in extreme cases and with very experienced entheogenic mothers).”

The dosage guide was shared for educational purposes only by mothers who chose to engage with psychedelic medicines while pregnant, but since we have addressed dose, let’s jump into the topic of whether psychedelics are safe during pregnancy and early infancy. 

 

 

Honoring The History of Entheogenic Traditions & Decolonizing The Medicine

The assumption that entheogenic substances are inappropriate for children may actually be a western concept and was (and is) not the necessary assumption of indigenous communities who have extensive histories using earth medicines. 

We have to take a look at these long lineages who incorporated psychedelic substances into their cultural framework, with entire rituals and social strategies dedicated to communing with entheogens. 

In various indigenous communities, the use of plant medicines during pregnancy and breastfeeding has been integral. Mythical and cultural narratives support the notion of psychedelics as allies in birthing experiences.

They offer spiritual guidance, connection to ancestral wisdom, and physical well-being. Decolonizing the entheogenic landscape involves recognizing and respecting the knowledge and practices of indigenous communities. 

“The Huichol Indians of Mexico and members of the Native American Church in the United States and Canada, utilize plant medicines prenatally or during breastfeeding to help prevent miscarriage, ensure the maturation of the fetus, and increase breastmilk production” 

-(Mikaela in Entheogenic Earth Medicine Assisted Motherhood).

When asked of her experience with psychedelic medicine during painful times in motherhood, Mikaela shared that she “leaned on medicine to kind of help me alchemize some of the pain of those experiences.”

“I’ve also watched people that have been considered infertile for example become pregnant after a high dose of mushrooms,” she shared.

Mind-altering medicines are even incorporated into their beliefs around the development of the human soul and the defining mythologies of so many indigenous cultures. 

“It’s a little bit scary…there’s a lot of ingrained cultural fears around the birthing space. In the west there’s a big tug of war around how birth is supposed to happen, and people are facing a lot of that. The pressure really starts to build,” she added.

 

Ready To Embark on Your Healing Journey?

We at Psychedelic Passage connect clients with our network of pre-vetted psychedelic facilitators who help support you along your journey from start to finish, even if it’s your first time

Assisting you throughout the preparation stage, to in-ceremony support and harm reduction, to integration services post-trip, expert facilitators guide you toward a successful, safe, and meaningful journey. 

We encourage you to reach out and book a consultation with us to begin the process of support, and also check out our resources page with a vast array of topics on all things psychedelia. 

We hope this article will stoke greater conversations and help diminish stigma around these substances, uplifting and encouraging all psychedelic seekers to advocate for their own wellbeing.

Looking for a professionally supported in-person psychedelic experience?

Take the first step and book a consultation call with us today. We'll walk you through every step of the process after getting to know you and your unique situation.

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At Psychedelic Passage, we offer professional 1-on-1 guidance and companionship on your journey of healing. We simply can't sit back and let Americans continue to sit in silent suffering trying to battle mental health issues within a broken health care system, all while knowing that effective alternatives exist. We stand for the sacred, at-home, ceremonial use of psychedelics for consciousness exploration, which we believe to be a fundamental human right.

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