Finding the right balance and looking after yourself and your baby after delivery can be challenging. Many new moms are sleep deprived and if you have had sleep problems before baby was here, it might be even worse when you have to care for your baby every few hours in the first few weeks.
This is when turning to sleeping pills and supplements like melatonin seem like a good option but a good question to ask is, “Will melatonin harm my baby?” All breastfeeding moms should always take precautions before consuming any food or product that could be passed on to the baby through breast milk and result in a negative effect. Let’s take a look at whether taking melatonin during pregnancy is recommended or not.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally released by the body to regulate sleep and keep your body on a 24-hour-cycle. It is produced by the pineal gland and is released into the bloodstream to regulate the circadian rhythm. Melatonin levels are the highest at night as it helps the body to sleep.
During pregnancy and delivery, melatonin is produced by the ovaries and the placenta. It works along with oxytocin to help labor and delivery. It is produced by your even when breastfeeding and is passed on to your baby through breast milk.
However, melatonin is also available as a dietary supplement and is taken for improving sleep quality. People who want to overcome jet lag, or regulate the delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (which is a circadian rhythm) or regulate insomnia, take melatonin supplements.
Is Melatonin Safe?
Breast milk is the best for a baby’s growth and development and it is also good for their sleep. Melatonin that is produced naturally by your body passes on to your baby through breast milk is completely safe and it helps babies to sleep. Research suggests that melatonin levels are the highest at night and breast milk expressed at night has a higher concentration of melatonin.
Studies suggest that taking a melatonin supplement is safe for adults to take for a short-term period when you are not breastfeeding. But there is not enough research done in the area of breastfeeding to prove that it is completely safe to take melatonin supplements.
Just because it is a natural hormone, it does not mean that taking melatonin supplements is safe for prolonged periods. Until you wean your baby off breastfeeding altogether, it is best to avoid melatonin supplements.
Alternatives to Melatonin
It is best to avoid melatonin or other sleeping pills while breastfeeding. There are other ways to induce sleep naturally and listed below are a few things that you could try.
- Skip caffeine – You may want to reach out for caffeine every few hours just to keep you going, but try to stay away from caffeine so that it does not affect your sleep cycle. Too much caffeine may also affect your baby through breast milk.
- Turn off screens – Staring at a screen one to two hours before sleeping stimulates your brain and helps to keep you awake. Instead, read a book or listen to music to help you relax and calm down.
- Stick to a routine – Sticking to a routine is good not only for babies but for adults as well. Make sure you get to bed at the same time each day and your body will get used to it.
- Shower before bedtime – Taking a warm shower at the end of the day helps you to feel more relaxed and induces sleep.
- Exercise- Exercising is important not only for burn calories and staying healthy. Going for a walk or a jog every day will help you to sleep better.
- Make your room cool and dark- Get some blackout curtains, cool your room at night, tuck under the covers, and stay cozy to get a good night’s sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping, before you decide to take any supplements or medication when pregnant or breastfeeding, always speak to your doctor. It’s always better to be safe side when it comes to looking after your little one!