While you lay awake, tossing and turning, you have probably asked yourself the question, “Is melatonin safe during pregnancy?”.
Especially if you were taking melatonin before your pregnancy, and you see the bottle sitting over on your nightstand, you can begin wondering what would happen if you were to start supplementing with it again. But, how will it affect the little one growing inside you?
Struggling to fall asleep is nothing new for expecting mothers. You are likely well aware that certain sleep drugs can be harmful, but since melatonin is natural, maybe it is ok?
When you have a developing fetus inside you, nothing is quite this simple. Let’s dive into what some of the research says regarding melatonin and pregnancy.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural sleep drug, and we actually produce it within our own bodies. It is secreted by our pineal gland, and plays a critical role in regulating our body’s sleep-wake cycle. So, if you have trouble sleeping, it could be due to a melatonin deficiency. This is why millions of Americans supplement with melatonin on a nightly basis.
Melatonin supplements are sold as an over the counter drug, and anyone can purchase it. Since we produce it naturally, it is not considered a drug. It also doesn’t fall into the category of hormones. Because of this, melatonin is not regulated by the FDA and as such, you need to do your own research before buying a certain brand or product.
Melatonin is widely regarded as safe for use, with no real long term effects on your body (other than slight dependency). Some of the noted side effects of melatonin include drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Nothing to crazy, right?
However, you are rightfully wary to use melatonin during your pregnancy. Since your child is growing inside of you, it's important to find out whether or not melatonin is safe during pregnancy.
Is it Safe to Take Melatonin During Pregnancy?
Let’s look at basic biology and chemistry to understand how melatonin may affect your baby when you take it.
During pregnancy, both your ovaries and your placenta produce high levels of melatonin. These elevated levels of melatonin are important for use throughout your pregnancy and through delivery.
As your pregnancy progresses into the second and third trimesters, your melatonin levels spike. You’d think that because you are generating more melatonin internally, you’d have plenty of it to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle, but this is not the case. You use it at the same rate (or even a greater rate) than you produce it, so you still may end up deficient.
Research Attempts to Answer the Question “Is Melatonin Safe During Pregnancy?”
Definitive research on whether or not melatonin is safe for expecting mothers is lacking, unfortunately. The majority of studies on this topic have been conducted on animals, but we are still able to draw some conclusions from these.
One such study examined the importance of melatonin on fetus development. Without boring you with the details, researchers found that melatonin is neuroprotective for the fetus. It also plays a vital role in training circadian rhythms for the fetus, improving their sleep patterns in the womb and after birth.
On the flip side, another study produced some less than ideal findings. This separate animal study suggested that melatonin use during pregnancy could be detrimental to fetal development. Scientists found that melatonin use during pregnancy may lead to decreased birth weight and baby mortality.
How Much Melatonin is Safe During Pregnancy?
With these findings noted above, we still have no real, definitive answer regarding whether or not melatonin is safe to take during pregnancy. Because of this, there isn’t any standard dosing recommendations. What we can tell you though, is doses for those not pregnant generally range from 1-5mg, with 3mg being the most common.
If you decide you want to give melatonin a try while pregnant, it is imperative that you talk to your physician first. They can help you identify any possible drug interactions, warn you of any side effects, and give you professional advice on taking melatonin while pregnant.
Alternatives to Melatonin During Pregnancy
If you don’t feel the risk of taking melatonin while pregnant is worth it, we don’t blame you! The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to melatonin if you find yourself struggling with pregnancy and sleep.
Many expecting moms have found success by simply forming better habits and sticking to a routine. For example, reducing caffeine, avoiding eating before bed, and developing a proper bed time routine all go a long way. Another great option, particularly if stress, restless leg syndrome, or magnesium deficiency affect you, is our 8 Sheep Organics Sleepy Body Lotion.
If you want to learn more about improving your sleep while expecting, check out our definitive guide on pregnancy and sleep!