SAN ANTONIO - More pregnant women are turning to marijuana to cure their morning sickness and anxiety.
A research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that from 2009 to 2016, marijuana use among pregnant women increased from 4.2 to 7.1 percent. The data was collected by a California health care system.
JAMA also showed findings from a January study that showed younger women, those between 18 and 25 years old, are most likely to use marijuana. JAMA believes people's perception of the drug is changing due to the prevalence of marijuana and legalization of the drug.
Eyewitness News spoke with a San Antonio mother who opened up about her marijuana use during all of her pregnancies. Alyssa Santos suffered from severe nausea and vomiting every time she was pregnant. She said nausea medication or other methods of easing her symptoms simply didn't work.
"I literally had to sleep by the toilet. I couldn't go out. I couldn't get rid of it," recalled Santos. "It was just so gross. I've never thrown up like that in my life, and all four of my pregnancies were like that."
Santos said she tried smoking marijuana and immediately felt better. However, she still felt the stigma attached to her form of treatment.
"It's hard to bring that up to people. You don't know how people are going to [react]. It's just something you keep to yourself," said Santos. "When everybody would leave, I would go outside and smoke a little. It helped. My nausea went away completely. I was able to do a couple of things like normal for a couple of hours."
Santos is now finding encouragement from other mothers online.
Eyewitness News posted the JAMA study on the KENS 5 Facebook page, and several women shared their success with marijuana. Santos said she hopes more women will speak up and help end the stigma.
"I was actually ready for the negative and positive comments, but I saw more positive come out of it," said Santos. "Just the simple fact that women are standing up together... It's crazy the power that it has when women come together. It's amazing."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise women against using marijuana while pregnant. It said THC, the chemical compound in cannabis, can cause developmental problems in babies. The CDC adds more studies are needed to know the full effects.
Santos said her children do not have any birth defects or developmental problems, and she stands by her decision.
"People who disagree with it, they've probably never smoked before," said Santos. "I believe that marijuana is a medicine. I don't think that it's a drug."