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Can You Take Melatonin During Pregnancy?

Melatonin, often used for sleep issues, is likely safe during pregnancy, though 4% of pregnant women use it cautiously. Essential oils and cognitive behavioral therapy are alternatives. Ginkgo biloba should be avoided near labor. Always consult a doctor first.

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Quick Answer

Clinical studies support that melatonin use during pregnancy is probably safe for both the mother and the baby.

Those who are pregnant might consider taking melatonin for sleep problems, which are common during pregnancy.

Studies show that melatonin use among pregnant populations is somewhat common at about 4 percent. Concerns about using melatonin while pregnant and breastfeeding might be due to the results of animal research. Data gathered from human clinical trials that used exogenous melatonin did not yield adverse events or considerable safety concerns.

How Melatonin Works

Melatonin is the main player when it comes to the body’s biological clock. It is often known as the sleep hormone.

Melatonin is produced naturally in the body by the pineal gland and then released into the bloodstream. Production increases during the hours of darkness, setting the table for a healthy night of sleep.

Melatonin supplements have gained in popularity in recent years for those who have trouble sleeping or experience irregular sleep patterns. Melatonin and sleep have become somewhat synonymous with each other.

Current research supports melatonin as a safe sleep supplement for both children and adults.

Melatonin & Pregnancy

Several different sleep-related disorders are possible during pregnancy. The most common sleep disorders during pregnancy include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Night-time gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

Insomnia is quite common during pregnancy, and it is often the result of hormonal changes. Those who are pregnant may reach a point where they are looking for safe and effective ways to promote sleep.

Common Side Effects of Melatonin

Potential Side Effects of Melatonin

Although melatonin is considered non-toxic, there are still mild symptoms and side effects associated with taking higher doses as well as extended-release formulations.

Adverse effects from taking high doses of melatonin include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

Historically, physicians and health care professionals have encouraged individuals to avoid melatonin use during pregnancy due to a lack of safety profile. This is more about the lack of studies conducted than adverse events being reported.

Melatonin Alternatives

Although melatonin is produced by the body naturally, those who are pregnant may not wish to take any sort of supplements during pregnancy, especially if they would like to avoid potential side effects like depression and anxiety.

Essential oils can be a safe and effective alternative to melatonin. Lavender, rosemary, and eucalyptus oils all have calming and relaxing properties.

Although ginkgo biloba is considered a melatonin alternative, it should be avoided in close proximity to labor due to its antiplatelet properties, which could affect bleeding during labor. The safety profile of ginkgo biloba is also not known during the lactation stage due to a lack of studies and testing.

Keeping a consistent sleep schedule and incorporating deep relaxation techniques can help promote a better night of sleep. This should be the first course of action when dealing with insomnia during pregnancy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can also help improve sleep and reduce overall anxiety and depression.

Melatonin & Pregnancy FAQS

Can melatonin hurt my baby?

There are no studies or significant proof that melatonin can hurt a fetus. Any warnings about melatonin have been issued due to a lack of human testing. Always consult your doctor before beginning any supplement in pregnancy.

Can melatonin hurt someone who is pregnant?

Since melatonin is produced naturally by the body, there is little to no proof that it has negative effects during pregnancy, both on the parent and the fetus. However, negative side effects can be experienced, including drowsiness, depression, and anxiety. Again, talk to your doctor before you take any supplement during pregnancy, including melatonin.

Is melatonin safe for adults and children?

Melatonin is viewed as a safe sleep aid for both children and adults. Conversely, there is no scientific data suggesting that melatonin is unsafe. The previous negative stigma attached to melatonin is often viewed as the result of a lack of human testing.
As with any supplements, it’s wise to consult your doctor or your child’s pediatrician before taking melatonin.

Can I take anything to help me sleep while pregnant?

There are a variety of melatonin alternatives that an individual can explore to promote a restful night of sleep during pregnancy. However, it’s important to consult with your doctor or physician who is aware of your health history to determine which medication or supplements are safe for you during pregnancy.
Sleep hygiene is generally recommended as the first course of action if you are having trouble sleeping during pregnancy. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Sleep in a cool, dark room, and don’t use screens before bed.

Is insomnia common during pregnancy?

Many individuals experience loss of sleep and even insomnia during pregnancy, which can be due to hormones, discomfort, and excitement and anxiety regarding the anticipation of parenthood. If you experience insomnia during pregnancy, know that this is very common.

Is there a way to produce more melatonin naturally?

Adhering to a routine sleep schedule is the best way to ensure your body is working properly and that natural melatonin is being produced. The body increases its own melatonin production at night time.

Updated January 12, 2024
  1. Melatonin Use During Pregnancy and Lactation: A Scoping Review of Human Studies. (May 2022). Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry.
  2. Melatonin and Sleep. (April 2022). Sleep Foundation.
  3. You Asked: Is It Safe to Take Melatonin During Pregnancy? (September 2021). Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women's Mental Health.
  4. Melatonin. (August 2021). StatPearls.
  5. Sleeping for Two: The Great Paradox of Sleep in Pregnancy. (June 2015). Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
  6. The Effect of Aromatherapy with Lavender Essential Oil on the Sleep Quality of Pregnant Women in the Third Trimester. (July–August 2020). Iranian Journal of Psychiatric Nursing.
  7. Lavender Fragrance Essential Oil and the Quality of Sleep in Postpartum Women. (April 2015). Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal.
  8. Safety and Efficacy of Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba) During Pregnancy and Lactation. (Fall 2006). The Canadian Journal Clinical Pharmacology.
  9. Sleep Disorders in Pregnancy. (July–September 2019). Sleep Science.
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