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Pregnancy may sometimes take a toll on your sleep. While some sleep issues do not cause much concern, others may require medical intervention. Most sleep disorders happen due to the disrupted levels of melatonin in the body. Melatonin is a hormone in the human body that is responsible for sleep. People who have issues or problems while sleeping often take it as a supplement. In the following article, we shall discuss whether it is safe to take melatonin during pregnancy, along with its benefits and side effects.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that is primarily responsible for your sleep and is produced naturally by the body. However, people who suffer from sleep disorders are often recommended melatonin supplements to improve their sleep.
A woman’s body produces high amounts of melatonin, both during pregnancy and delivery. Melatonin is also found in the amniotic fluid, and the baby requires the supply of melatonin from the mother in the initial stages of pregnancy.
Melatonin and oxytocin both work together to induce labour. Since melatonin levels are high at night, a lot of women go into labour either early in the morning or late in the evening.
Is Melatonin Safe to Use During Pregnancy?
Melatonin is produced in ample amounts by the ovaries and placenta of a pregnant woman. The production of this hormone starts peaking at 24 weeks, and it increases further after 32 weeks of pregnancy. Thus, a pregnant woman’s body is already making sufficient amounts of melatonin, and whether or not she should take melatonin supplements during pregnancy is debatable. There is not enough evidence available that supports the safety of taking melatonin supplements during pregnancy. Taking a small dosage for the short-term may be considered safe, but long-term use may cause harm to the baby by creating complications. It should only be taken after consulting with a doctor and under medical supervision.
What Is the Recommended Intake of Melatonin While Pregnant?
As discussed above, melatonin should be taken in small amounts and for a short duration during pregnancy. The recommended dosage of melatonin is between 1 mg and 3 mg during pregnancy. However, it should not be taken without consulting a doctor. Taking melatonin on your own or without the doctor’s prescription should be strictly avoided during pregnancy. If you are suffering from low blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure or other such ailments, taking melatonin during pregnancy may cause severe complications. As mentioned above, melatonin should be taken during pregnancy only after consulting with your healthcare practitioner.
Benefits of Taking Melatonin While Pregnant
Melatonin has good effects on the baby in the uterus. Here are some of the benefits of melatonin for you and your baby:
For the baby:
- It can protect your baby from neurobehavioral disorders.
- It can also protect your baby from oxidative stress.
- It prevents intrauterine growth retardation.
- It is beneficial for your baby’s development.
For the mother:
- It aids the functions of the placenta.
- It helps in better sleep.
- It lowers the risk of preeclampsia.
- It helps in enhancing fertility.
- It reduces the risk of pre-term labour.
Side Effects of Melatonin During Pregnancy
Though consuming melatonin in small amounts is considered safe and may not cause any side effects, it may adversely affect the pregnant woman in some ways:
1. Nausea, Fatigue, and Abnormal Heartbeat
Consuming melatonin in excessive amounts can cause side-effects such as an abnormal heartbeat, aggression, an accelerated heart rate, mood swings, nausea, rash, fatigue, memory loss, delusions, etc. Please discuss all the pros and cons of the medicine with your doctor before consuming it.
2. Symptoms Similar to Hormonal Changes
Hormonal ups and downs are common during pregnancy and can cause various changes in the body. However, excessive melatonin in the body can cause the same kind of symptoms. Symptoms associated with hormonal changes during pregnancy are acne, hot flushes, changes in eyesight, etc. Therefore, if a pregnant woman is taking melatonin, the doctor will keep monitoring her hormones. It is important to establish whether it is melatonin or the changing hormones that are causing the symptoms.
3. Sugar Levels and Blood Pressure
Melatonin may affect the sugar levels and blood pressure of your body, and both these conditions may cause severe complications in pregnancy. Therefore, if you are on melatonin supplements, your doctor will keep monitoring your health to check blood pressure and sugar levels.
Natural Ways to Increase Your Melatonin Levels
It’s best to go the natural route when it comes to health, and this is more so when you are pregnant. Though melatonin supplements guarantee a peaceful night’s sleep, here are a few natural ways of inducing sleep and increasing melatonin levels in your body.
1. Lower Your Stress Levels
Keep your stress levels low by keeping yourself happy and relaxed. Listen to good music or do meditation or yoga to relieve any kind of stress that you may experience. Stress is bad not only for you but also for the baby.
2. Prepare for Bed Early
Prepare mentally and physically to go to bed. Take a warm bath, dress in your nightclothes, and try going to bed at the same time every night. Refrain from staying up late as it can disturb your sleep schedule.
3. Keep Noisy Alarm Clocks Away
Instead of waking up with a jolt to annoying alarms, set a relaxing and peaceful tune to wake up to. Since pregnancy already makes it difficult to get good sleep, a loud-sounding alarm may make things worse.
4. Take Warm Water Bath Before Bed
Taking a warm water bath before bedtime is a great way of getting some quality sleep. It can help you relax and wash the stress off your body. Bathing with some soft and soothing music playing can be an added advantage.
5. Sleep in a Comfortable Temperature
Extreme temperatures can disrupt your sleep. Therefore, it is important to keep the temperature of your room comfortable in order for you to get a peaceful sleep.
6. Don’t Use Gadgets Before Bedtime
Switch your mind off before going to bed every night. Refrain from using your phone, television, or computer for an hour before bedtime. This will ease your mind and induce better sleep.
7. Avoid Eating Heavy Meals
Heavy meals, especially those rich in carbohydrates, can make you feel uncomfortable and restless. Finish eating your meal at least two to three hours before bedtime. Also, do not consume caffeinated drinks as it may disrupt your sleep.
8. Eat the Right Food
Some food items are responsible for the production of melatonin in the body and are also healthy food options for pregnant women. Add these food items in your daily diet to see the best results. Some of these foods are nuts, whole grains, and green, leafy vegetables.
9. Body Massage
A body massage is a great way of relaxing your body. Make sure you get your massage done from an expert who is adept at handling a pregnancy body.
Melatonin is used to treat sleep problems, and it is safe to take a small dosage of melatonin during pregnancy. However, you should take melatonin only after you get a go-ahead from your doctor.
Also Read: Melatonin for Kids – An Overview