Melatonin for Pregnancy
Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment.
Women experience more difficulty sleeping while they are pregnant than usual. Research suggests that having insomnia or other sleep disorders is more common in the 3rd trimester. Melatonin is widely promoted for improving sleep quality as well as addressing sleep problems. But is it safe to use melatonin for pregnancy? Let’s together try to find it out.
In this article, we’ll explore the potential benefits of using melatonin for pregnancy along with possible risks and safety precautions. But before we get into whether melatonin can help with pregnancy, it’s important to learn the basics of melatonin a little bit more. So, let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What is melatonin?
- Potential benefits of melatonin for pregnancy
- How to use melatonin supplements
- Is it safe to use melatonin during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
- Safety precautions
- Final words
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the body by the pineal gland and plays an essential role in regulating the body’s normal circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the body’s daily rhythms that are responsible for making someone sleep, feel alert, wake up, and feel tired every day almost at the same time.
Melatonin essentially makes someone drowsy and fall asleep. It’s synthesized in the body usually as a response to night or darkness and therefore, exposure to light can interrupt melatonin production no matter whether it’s natural light or artificial such as blue light from the screens.
Melatonin is also available as a dietary supplement that is widely promoted as a natural sleep aid. It works well both alone or in combination with other natural ingredients that help promote calm and restfulness.
Melatonin has been found useful in a range of conditions ranging from bone metabolism to mental health to drug metabolism, but it’s mostly claimed to be an effective natural alternative to treat jet lag, sleep difficulties, certain types of anxiety, and delayed sleep-wake phase disorder.
Potential benefits of melatonin for pregnancy
Human studies on the effects of using melatonin for pregnancy are just in the initial phase. Some animal research has shown that melatonin has some favorable effects on pregnancy outcomes. Let’s take a look at some of the potential benefits of melatonin for pregnancy what we know so far:
Potential benefits of melatonin for pregnant women
- It may help improve sleep, particularly in those who work nights and shifts
- It may help improve the placenta and its functioning
- It may help lower the risk of preeclampsia, a complication in pregnancy characterized by hypertension or high blood pressure that is potentially dangerous
- It may help lower the risk of preterm birth
- It may help increase fertility
Potential benefits of melatonin for fetuses
- It plays an essential role in supporting healthy brain development
- It may help lower the risk of intrauterine growth retardation, a condition in which the baby doesn't grow in the womb as expected and cannot achieve its usual weight during pregnancy
- It may help protect the baby from neurobehavioral disorders
- It may help prevent or reduce oxidative stress that may lead to damage to cells
A systematic review in Reproductive Toxicology published in 2008 investigating the role of melatonin during pregnancy in humans concluded that melatonin seems to be essential for successful human pregnancy as it can help in many different ways such as modulating circadian rhythms, scavenging free radicals, and protecting cells from oxidative damage. This study also indicated that melatonin can reduce the risk of various pregnancy complications including fetal brain damage, pre-eclampsia, and those due to abortion.
How to use melatonin supplements
Melatonin supplements usually come in the form of capsules or pills that can be taken by mouth. Dosages are individual that depend on the personal health needs and severity of symptoms. However, in general, the typical dose of melatonin range from 1 mg to 3 mg per day. As it helps with sleep-wake cycles, melatonin supplements are often recommended to take around the same time every day to get the best results.
The use of melatonin supplements may increase melatonin levels significantly, sometimes up to 20 times of normal level. Therefore, it’s highly important to consult with a licensed healthcare professional to determine how much to take.
Is it safe to use melatonin during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
So far, there aren’t any known serious risks found in human studies. But as the research on the effects of melatonin on pregnancy and breastfeeding is in just its initial stage, there might have some risks and we cannot completely rule them out.
Another concern about the use of melatonin for pregnancy or breastfeeding is the dosage. Most over-the-counter (OTC) products contain way higher of melatonin than what’s required. Therefore, though melatonin is not known to be detrimental during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it’s always essential to work with a certified natural medicine professional to find out the exact dose.
If you’re expecting and experiencing persistent sleep issues and you want to give melatonin a try, then you should consult with a professional healthcare provider. Here’re some precautions you should definitely follow:
- Choose only quality products that have recognition labels and have gone through an ethical process of testing
- Seek the direct supervision of a licensed healthcare provider
- Monitor side effects
Studies suggest that the use of melatonin for pregnancy has been found to produce some potential benefits on pregnancy outcomes. It can help both pregnant moms and babies in many ways, such as lowering the risk of pre-eclampsia and neurobehavioral disorders. But, it’s always essential to consult with a certified medical practitioner prior to using melatonin to determine its safety and best possible dosage.
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