The Role of Melatonin While Pregnant: Benefits and Risks
The pineal gland in the brain produces a hormone called melatonin that plays a vital role in regulating circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock), such as the neuroendocrine rhythms, sleep-wake cycles, or body temperature cycles. This hormone’s production is blocked during exposure to light at night time, and consequently, circadian rhythm regulation is affected. Melatonin helps you sleep and manage other conditions such as jet lag, insomnia, neurodegenerative disorders, post-traumatic brain injuries, etc. However, can you take melatonin while pregnant? Let’s discuss this.
Melatonin’s Role in Sleep Regulation
Melatonin (sleep hormone) is responsible for signaling your body when it is time to wake up and sleep. When it is dark, your pineal gland releases melatonin into your bloodstream, prompting your body to sleep. Moreover, your melatonin levels vary throughout the night, with levels slowly decreasing as the morning approaches, signaling your body to wake up. So, melatonin not only promotes sleep but also initiates a seamless transition between sleep and wakefulness.
Is Melatonin Safe During Pregnancy?
Taking melatonin during pregnancy is usually not recommended because of a lack of proof concerning its safety. While taking melatonin for a short period during pregnancy may be safe, expectant women should consult their healthcare provider before taking over-the-counter (OTC) melatonin. OTC melatonin supplements may contain high levels of melatonin, approximately 20 times more than what your body requires every day.
Moreover, melatonin supplements are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), so the levels may vary among products. Taking OTC melatonin with increased doses may have unforeseen effects on the growing fetus. Research findings suggest that additional melatonin while pregnant has adverse effects on infant birth weight as well as infant mortality. So, ensure not to use melatonin supplements unless your healthcare provider approves or recommends it.
Side Effects and Risks
Taking melatonin supplements can produce the following side effects in some people:
- Dry mouth
- Strange dreams
- Itchy or dry skin
- Leg or arm pain
- Daytime sleepiness
- Nausea or stomach pain
- Night sweats
- Irritability, restlessness, or anxiety
Besides, some people may experience adverse effects, including:
- Vertigo or confusion
- Blurry vision or watery eyes
- Symptoms of psoriasis
- Unexplained bruising or blood in the urine
Benefits of Melatonin During Pregnancy
- Promotes normal placental development and function
- Helps in fetal neurodevelopment
- Increases effects of oxytocin and supports childbirth
- Acts as an indirect antioxidant to protect cells from oxidative damage, thus enhancing the immune system response
- Assists in promoting sleep patterns in the fetus during later stages of pregnancy
- Reduces complications such as intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and preeclampsia
Impacts on Fetal Development and Health
Melatonin regulates circadian rhythms in fetuses, impacting their sleep patterns after birth. It also reduces complications such as preeclampsia and IUGR and promotes neurological development, reducing the risk of brain lesions. While melatonin promotes fetal development and health, pregnant women having lower levels must consult their healthcare provider for taking melatonin supplements.
Does Melatonin Help Improve Sleep Quality?
Melatonin can enhance sleep quality. As a natural sleep regulator, it assists in establishing a balanced sleep-wake cycle. While melatonin supplements can aid in quicker sleep onset and potentially deeper sleep, optimal results depend on personalized dosing and timing. Consulting a healthcare professional is prudent to determine the most effective approach for improving individual sleep quality.
How to Naturally Improve Sleep During Pregnancy?
- Ensure you sleep and wake up at the same time daily.
- Exercise daily, but don’t work out before bedtime.
- Have short daytime naps.
- Practice meditation before bedtime.
- Reduce your screen time before going to bed.
- Take a warm bath or shower before bedtime.
- Don’t consume coffee, tea, or spicy/acidic foods before sleep.
- Finish your dinner 2-3 hours before going to bed.
Safety Precautions on Taking Melatonin While Pregnant
- Keep your doctor informed about your current medications to prevent complications.
- Don’t take melatonin supplements containing other sleeping aids or herbs.
- Stick to the prescribed dosage and take it on time as instructed by your physician.
- Avoid melatonin supplements if you have a liver problem, kidney disorder, or an autoimmune condition.
- Visit your doctor upon experiencing any side effects.
Contact North Atlanta Women’s Care for Top-Notch Pregnancy Care and Delivery
Are you wondering if melatonin is safe for pregnancy? Get professional advice from competent gynecologists at North Atlanta Women’s Care. We consider your unique situation and existing health conditions to provide personalized recommendations on taking melatonin during pregnancy. Contact us today to get the compassionate pregnancy care and support you need throughout your pregnancy and beyond.
Content Source: Healthline
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