Pregnancy is an exciting, but also a very stressful time for expecting mothers. Many women experience trouble sleeping during this period, and are looking for ways to get a better night’s rest. A popular option is melatonin, but can this supplement, which is used to treat insomnia, be safely taken by pregnant women? In this blog post, we’ll look into the safety of taking 5mg of melatonin during pregnancy. We’ll discuss the potential benefits, relevant research, and any potential risks. We’ll also consider the opinions of healthcare professionals and the potential alternatives. With this information, you’ll be able to decide if taking 5mg of melatonin while pregnant is right for you.
Is It Safe to Take Melatonin While Pregnant?
It’s important to point out that melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally produces, even during pregnancy; the placenta makes it, so it’s ever present in your system, as noted by the journal Human Reproduction Update. But in terms of popping a supplement form of this hormone, can you take melatonin while pregnant—and is it safe?
The frustrating reality is that there’s no definitive answer as to whether or not it’s safe to take melatonin while pregnant. “We know that melatonin crosses the placenta and can enter the fetus’ bloodstream,” says Pieter Cohen, MD, a general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. “It appears safe, but it hasn’t been carefully studied.” That goes for melatonin gummies, dissolvables and capsules designed to be swallowed. Related Video
Even at low doses, there’s a chance that melatonin exposure could have subtle effects on baby’s hormonal signal development, Cohen notes. And higher doses could be even more problematic. “We know that children can become overly sedated by excessive melatonin, but what effect excessive melatonin would have on the [baby in utero] isn’t known,” Cohen says. What’s more, even if you pluck the lowest dose off your pharmacy shelf, there are no guarantees. Supplement dosage isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so you can never know exactly how much you’re taking. In fact, research has found that melatonin labeling isn’t always accurate, and that the dose listed on the bottle might not represent the actual amount of melatonin in the pills.
What sleep aids are safe for pregnancy?
Due to the complexity of sleep problems, Bogler doesn’t frequently prescribe sleeping pills to her patients, whether they are pregnant or not. She asks, acknowledging that physical changes in pregnancy can make sleep particularly difficult, “Is it stress, body positioning, discomfort, underlying depression or anxiety?” “You can’t deny how difficult it is, but medication doesn’t always make those problems go away.” ”.
Bogler discusses good sleep hygiene and suggests behavioral changes to help patients who struggle with insomnia and other sleep problems, such as getting enough exercise during the day and avoiding screens for at least an hour before bed. Some people who struggle with sleep issues may find benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. Bogler frequently advises her pregnant patients to sleep with a pillow, stand up, or elevate their legs.
I make a real effort to recommend lifestyle changes for sleep before taking medications,” Bogler says. To rule out any underlying medical conditions that could result in cramping or restless legs in the evening, it is advantageous to have your thyroid and iron levels checked.
Does melatonin work?
One meta-analysis published in 2013 in PLOS ONE, found that while melatonins effect on sleep was modest, it led to improved sleep quality, increased time spent sleeping, and a decrease in how long it took people to fall asleep. The study described the effect of melatonin on sleep as “modest.” And, as the National Sleep Foundation notes, many studies fail to show that melatonin is more helpful than a placebo.
“Data is not convincing that melatonin supplements are effective but doses available in the over-the-counter products appear to be safe,” says Lynn L. Simpson, MD, FACOG, the chief of Obstetrics at Columbia University Medical Center.
Likewise, due to a lack of data on its effects, taking melatonin supplements while pregnant is not advised.
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