The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ask Amy: My co-worker is 6 months pregnant and smokes cigarettes and weed

4 min

Dear Amy: I am a waitress. One of my co-workers is six months pregnant. Every time she takes a break, she goes out back and smokes cigarettes. Sometimes she smokes weed. She has been smoking ever since I started here, four months ago.

I’m a mind-your-own-business kind of person, but I have witnessed a family member suffer from asthma. I know that smoking while pregnant increases the chance of the baby having breathing problems.

I know that my co-worker goes to the doctor for prenatal care and stuff, but every time she takes a break, my heart sinks and I feel guilty. Should I say something to her, and if so, what can I say?

— Worried

Worried: It is common knowledge that smoking is bad for one’s health and that smoking while pregnant could negatively affect the unborn baby’s health. If your co-worker is seeing her doctor regularly for prenatal visits, then this will have been emphasized many times.

No one should smoke weed while working or while pregnant. Marijuana affects the mother’s cognition, coordination and reaction time.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (

“No amount of marijuana has been proven safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics released its first official guidelines, advising women who are pregnant or nursing to avoid marijuana use because it isn’t safe for them or their children.

“Whether smoked, eaten in food (edibles), or vaped, marijuana is stronger than ever before, which makes use during pregnancy especially risky for a developing baby’s health. Marijuana contains nearly 500 chemicals, including the mind-altering compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These chemicals can pass through a woman’s placenta to her baby during pregnancy.”

I think you could have the greatest influence on your co-worker by getting to know her and by trying to discourage her from ingesting pot. Be nonjudgmental and compassionate toward her. She may tell you that she is using pot to treat nausea or to boost her appetite. Ask her: “Have you asked your doctor about that?”

Dear Amy: My older brother and I have always had a difficult relationship. One day before our 52nd wedding anniversary, my wife died. I called my sister, and asked if she could inform our older brother of my wife’s death. He has had nothing to do with me for over 15 years. I do not have his address or phone number, or even know what state he is living in.

My sister did relay the news to him. Over the two months since my wife’s death, I have received letters and cards from friends all over the world. There has been nothing from my brother or his family. Was I asking too much of him to at least acknowledge my wife’s death?

— Devastated Brother

Devastated: I’m so sorry you have experienced this very tough loss.

Your brother’s choice not to express his condolences seems to be taking up more space than the many expressions of sympathy you’ve received from so many others. You are not required to do anything right now, except to feel your feelings and try your hardest to keep your heart open to those who you know love and care about you.

If this continues to eat away at you, you could get your brother’s contact information from your sister and reach out to him. You are disappointed that he has kept his silence of so many years, especially through this tough period. Do you want to try to forge a path toward communication now? If so, then you should say so, plainly — expressing your thoughts and feelings in writing.

I want to add a strong caution: You cannot pull someone to the table if they don’t want to come. Your brother may not have the emotional tools to accept any bid you extend. This is another loss you may have to accept.

Dear Amy:Overlooked” was a legal secretary who “never” took her own vacation days because she was worried about not having coverage while she was gone. I hope she doesn’t make this mistake in her next job! Always take your vacation days — you’ve earned them!

— Been There, Gone Fishin

Been There: “Overlooked” was feeling very put-upon and unappreciated. I agree that she gave way too much.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.