Knowing that your labor is going to be induced often means you have a pretty good idea of when your baby will come, but it doesn’t mean you know how long it will take for them to arrive. In fact, research suggests that women who are induced labor longer than women who weren’t.
Because there are many reasons why women may want or need to be induced, a new study is in progress to determine if melatonin pills can speed up labor after an induction. And one participant in that study just had a 45-minute labor, start to finish.
Using melatonin to induce labor: Meagan’s story
Meagan James, 41, was expecting her second child and needed an induction due to her gestational diabetes, 9News reports. After her induction—and a dose of melatonin pills—James’ son Josh came into the world faster than she’d expected. “I was declared in labor at 10:15 am and he came out at 11 o’clock. It was quite a ride,” she told 9News.
So can melatonin accelerate induced labor? Josh’s speedy delivery is promising, but it’s too early to tell if the melatonin pills his mama took are definitely the reason why he arrived so fast. James participated in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, where half of about 700 moms were given melatonin pills and the other half received sugar pills. James wasn’t told which one she received, as is standard in these kinds of scientific trials.
Dr. Miranda Davies-Tuck is the lead researcher on this project. She says melatonin may help women who are induced have “shorter labors, maybe less painful labors.” This is because melatonin is a hormone like oxytocin, which stimulates uterine contractions. Previous research suggests that melatonin may enhance the effect of oxytocin on contractions, making the contractions more synchronized and powerful.
Tuck’s work isn’t the only research on melatonin in pregnancy. A 2018 study “suggest[s] that melatonin could be a new therapeutic agent to prevent preterm birth and fetal brain injury.”
But before you run out and grab a bottle of melatonin, it’s important to know that there is a lot more science to be done before melatonin can be considered safe to take during pregnancy. Always talk to your medical provider before taking any kind of supplement or medication during pregnancy or birth.
A version of this story was first published April 8, 2019. It has been updated.