Should You Be Taking Melatonin to Induce Labor? Here’s What to Know!

Will taking melatonin induce labor? That’s a big question with some fascinating science behind it.

I recently mentioned some bits about melatonin’s role in labor, which you can read about here. And since I did, many mamas are asking me if taking melatonin to induce labor is OK.

I want to cover that part more specifically, so here goes!

Relevant: Does a hot bath induce labor?

Will melatonin induce labor?

This incredible article explains a bit about melatonin’s role in labor. And since it’s a bit science-y, I will attempt to sum it up.

Basically, uterine contractions become the strongest at night when you are late in pregnancy. This is when the melatonin in your body is at its highest concentration.

While more studies are being done, it seems that melatonin increases more at the end of your pregnancy, and it does so to promote uterine contractions.

There are animal studies that reveal this, though more need to be conducted on humans. The linked article details it a bit better, but that study was in rats. They took out the pineal gland, which is the one that produces melatonin production. Then they gave those pregnant rats a melatonin injection when it got dark, and they delivered at the same time as the rats in the control group.

It’s important to know that melatonin will not send you into labor. It works with other hormones in your body. One is noradrenaline which helps with uterine contraction. The other is oxytocin.

So, the body needs this combination of hormones to make labor start. Melatonin will not begin to labor until everything else is in motion.

Can you take melatonin at 39 weeks pregnant?

I will always be the first to tell you that you should never take anything without asking your doctor. Information on the internet is one-size-fits-all. It doesn’t account for how many weeks pregnant you are or if you have any medical conditions that could be impacted by taking any supplement.

While melatonin supplements are mostly considered safe, there has not been enough research about taking these supplements for pregnant humans.

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Some medical professionals may recommend it in certain cases, usually to older women trying to get pregnant or those with preeclampsia. Only your doctor can help you with this decision, but please do not take melatonin supplements late in your pregnancy without them specifically advising that you do so.

Note that:

Melatonin levels will rise naturally as you move through your pregnancy. Taking a supplement then could put too much of it in your body. Again, studies were done in rats for this (this is in the link just above), and what they found was it negatively impacted the litter size, growth of the pups, and mortality rate. While this was in rats, nothing can be certain for humans at this point.

In short, you do not want to take anything while pregnant unless your doctor says to take it. Also, your body goes into labor when it is ready. At 39 weeks, it is generally ready for show time. However, that combination of hormones is necessary, so let your body do its thing. In the meantime, work on getting as much rest as you can. You’re going to need it!

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