Is Melatonin Safe While Breastfeeding?

If you have trouble sleeping while you're breastfeeding, you may consider taking over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids like melatonin to help you sleep. While these products can be safe and effective in general, there has not been enough research to prove whether taking melatonin while you are breastfeeding is safe or not.

Since it is unknown what will happen if you use melatonin while breastfeeding, experts generally recommend that you do not take it until your baby is weaned. However, each person’s situation is different, so you should talk to your healthcare provider about the safest options for you and your baby.

This article explains what's known about melatonin, its potential benefits and risks, and non-medication alternatives that may help you get better sleep while breastfeeding.

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What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a chemical that is released by the brain that helps induce sleep as part of the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is also found naturally in breastmilk with concentrations highest during nighttime feedings.

You can also buy melatonin supplements at most pharmacies and drugstores. However, since these are dietary supplements, companies are not required to prove safety and effectiveness before marketing the products. There can also sometimes be differences between labeled and actual ingredients or amounts.

Some people have reported using melatonin supplements while breastfeeding without any safety concerns, according to the Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed).

Still, there is not enough research yet to definitively say if melatonin use is safe while breastfeeding. You should always speak to your healthcare provider to discuss using any supplemental aid while breastfeeding.

There are some potential benefits and risks to using melatonin at any time, not just while you're breastfeeding. You should talk to your provider before trying melatonin.

Possible Benefits

Melatonin has relatively few side effects. Some people experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness when they take melatonin but these side effects are usually mild.

Although some studies have concluded that melatonin supplements can help you fall asleep faster, they do not seem to work for everyone. Some people report sleeping longer when taking melatonin, while others report no effect at all.

The effects of melatonin also tend to wane over time and there isn't yet enough information on long-term effects. Therefore, melatonin supplements are really intended for short-term rather than ongoing relief from insomnia, or an inability to get enough sleep.

Potential Risks

If you took melatonin before or during your pregnancy without any problems, you might wonder if it’s safe to keep using it while you are breastfeeding.

It’s not clear how melatonin might affect a breastfed infant. However, melatonin can cause side effects like agitation, sleepiness, and bet-wetting in young children. Melatonin is not recommended for any child under the age of 3 years old. 

There has been very little research on melatonin’s safety for babies, so we do not know for sure how they would be affected. Since melatonin can make you sleepy, it’s possible that an infant who has been exposed to supplemental melatonin might get too drowsy. 

You should talk to your provider about what would be safe for you. For example, your provider might approve of you taking a small amount of melatonin for a short time while you are breastfeeding. If not, they can recommend an alternative. 

How to Improve Your Sleep

Drugs and supplements are not the only way to address sleep problems. By making a few lifestyle changes, you might be able to cope with insomnia without using medications.

Some non-medication ways to improve your sleep include:

  • Improved sleep hygiene: Sleep hygiene means creating routines and environments that foster sleep. This includes steps like avoiding food and electronics for an hour or so before you go to bed, sticking to a routine sleep schedule as much as possible, and ensuring your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.
  • Exercise: Physical activity helps with sleep and can improve your mood because it releases "feel-good" hormones called endorphins. Even taking your child out in a stroller while you take a walk for 30 minutes to an hour can help.
  • Medical care: Sometimes, sleep problems are secondary to post-pregnancy conditions like heartburn, leg cramps, or shortness of breath. Rather than "living with it," talk to your healthcare provider about what you can do to manage these symptoms.

For some people, breastfeeding can actually help with insomnia. The hormone prolactin, which is responsible for lactation, also plays a role in moderating stress in people who are nursing. As long as you continue nursing, your prolactin levels will remain high.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Regularly interrupted sleep can lead to sleep deprivation, which can compound and worsen over time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 55% of people are still nursing their babies at 6 months while 35% are still nursing their 1-year-olds.

When your concentration, moods, and ability to function are impaired, it's important that you reach out to a healthcare provider for help. While making the adjustment to parenthood could certainly be contributing to poor sleep, there could also be other causes that your provider will want to rule out. 

You may benefit from seeing a sleep specialist who can perform an overnight sleep study. In some cases, there may be pre-existing sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, that may have been "unmasked" by the pregnancy. By seeing a sleep specialist, you may find solutions that only improve sleep but later in life as well.

Your provider can also help you find ways to improve your sleep and may recommend treatments for you to use while you are breastfeeding.


While melatonin supplements may help some people fall asleep faster, they don't work for everyone and they tend to lose effectiveness over time. Currently, there isn't enough research to say definitively whether melatonin use while breastfeeding is safe or not.

Lifestyle changes may help overcome insomnia. This includes improving your sleep habits, exercising routinely, and creating a bedroom environment that fosters sleep. Speak with your healthcare provider if sleep problems persist. If needed, you may be referred to a sleep specialist for further investigation.

A Word From Verywell

If your sleep issues are persistent, it is important to focus on yourself and get to the bottom of the issue. New parents all too commonly put their own needs on the back burner as they focus on the new baby and other family members.

Disrupted sleep is not only a nuisance that can leave you irritable, but can be dangerous when reaction times are decreased (such as while driving a car). Give your baby a gift by taking care of yourself.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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