Research has shown that omega 3’s are imperative for healthy brain development in babies in utero. If the mom is not taking in extra Omega 3’s during pregnancy than she herself can become depleted. Low omega 3 levels have been linked to symptoms of depression. Research has also been successful in showing that women who consumed at least 200 mg of fish oil per day while pregnant had less risk of developing postpartum depression. I have treated depression naturally with patients for the past 6 years and fish oil is always a must. I have seen marked improvement in the depression symptoms reported by patients when they are taking 500-1000mg or more of fish oil/day. So, if it is imperative for baby’s healthy brain development, and it could prevent postpartum depression, I believe every pregnant woman should be taking omega 3’s. You can also consume Omega 3’s in natural forms such as fish like salmon, sardines, and swordfish. Since mercury levels can be an issue in pregnancy with certain fish sources, I often recommend taking a high quality omega 3 supplement and eating chia and flax seeds.
Some other things to consider if you are dealing with postpartum depression, or have in the past and would like to prevent it, are blood sugar levels. Eat frequent, small, low sugar, high fiber snacks and meals. Exercise at least 20 minutes of aerobic activity at least 3 times a week. Nap with the baby and rest when you can, and if you are still struggling with fatigue and sluggishness, get your thyroid levels checked. Happy mama, happy baby!
Karen Hyden, WHNP-BC, MSN, MEd is the Medical Director and Nurse Practitioner at Hope Clinic for Women. She believes in educating and motivating clients in making healthy lifestyle changes and collaborating with the counseling and mentoring staff in order to produce the best possible outcomes for patients.