Let’s talk about postpartum depression and how Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA & DHA may help.
Due to hormones, lack of support, birth trauma, past experiences and many other factors, some moms experience sadness, may become weepy or even have postpartum depression. Some of these moms seek help from their health care provider and are prescribed an antidepressant. If that’s working for you, I’m happy that you have found a solution. It’s important to feel well and be functional. You are an awesome person and parent! But what if you are hoping to avoid pharmaceuticals and you want to try something a bit more natural? Omega-3’s baby! Let’s talk about those Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids: EPA & DHA. I want to give credit to Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, FAPA. As this information comes from attending her lectures and reading her book, A Breastfeeding-Friendly Approach to Postpartum Depression. “I love the Uppity Science Chick”. You can find out more about her at http://www.uppitysciencechick.com/
Here in the United States and in other industrialized countries, most women are deficient in EPA and DHA due to diet. EPA keeps inflammation in check. This can be helpful in many areas of your body – joints, muscles, skin, gut, and even your brain. DHA is the building block of your brain, eyes and heart. DHA also helps your cells talk to each other. Pregnant and postpartum women are at a higher risk of being deficient since the growing baby “steals” EPA and DHA from mom to build their developing nervous system. In other words, we sacrifice for our children long before they’re born. That’s ok: that’s what parents do!
OK, so we’ve established what EPA/DHA are and that deficiency is common, but what do we do about that deficiency? According to a 2006 American Psychiatric Association panel, the long-chain Omega 3 fatty acids components DHA and EPA can help prevent and effectively treat depression. (Akabas & Deckelbaum, 2006; Peet & Stokes, 2005) Omega 3’s are found abundantly in seafood, however, it can be difficult for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers to safely consume the amount of seafood needed to have a therapeutic effect because of concerns of toxicity due to contaminants in our seafood. So, what’s a girl to do? Supplements! Bear in mind, not all supplements are created equal, some are higher in mercury, PCB’s, and other contaminants. The US Pharmacopeia has compiled a list of safe products. You can find their list here: http://www.quality-supplements.org/verified-products/verified-products-listings#list7 200-400 mg of DHA is the current minimum recommended dose to prevent depression. For treatment of depression the dose of EPA is 1000 mg, usually in combination with medications and/or DHA. Remember: always consult with your healthcare provider when starting a new treatment plan.
In addition to the benefit of taking EPA/DHA for depression, these nutrients have anti-inflammatory benefits. Interestingly, studies have shown that there is a connection between inflammation and depression. EPA/DHA has been shown to decrease levels of proinflammatory cytokines. (Cytokines are how your cells talk to each other). Ferrucci et al., 2006 found that persons with high levels of Omega-3s in their blood had low levels of proinflammatory cytokines. Even people with body aches and pains can benefit from taking Omega-3’s!
Now, is there a connection between depression and inflammation? Yes! During the last trimester of pregnancy those proinflammatory cytokines rise. When they’re within normal ranges they help prevent infection and prepare for labor. However, when high levels are present, it’s a marker for depression. What does the body do to help lower those? It raises cortisol- an anti-inflammatory agent! But cortisol is also a stress hormone! Inflammation also increases cortisol. Cortisol is often high in depressed persons. Do you see the cycle here? Pregnancy increases inflammation, the body attacks with a hormone to decrease that inflammation, but that hormone increases stress, which increases inflammation.
In summary, these healthful supplements of Omega-3’s EPA/DHA may help you heal from depression and reduce inflammation. Combine them with doing something regularly that you love: walk, read, exercise, sing, swim, color, talk to a friend. Most importantly, if you are feeling like you may hurt yourself or your baby, immediately call your healthcare provider, 911 or Postpartum Support International at 800-944-4773. You are not alone and there is help. Someone cares deeply for you and loves you. You are important.
Why I support Live, Love, Latch
August is coming. It's only a few weeks away! As a breastfeeding supporter, I look forward to August as it's the time to celebrate and promote breastfeeding. If you're a breastfeeding mom perhaps your first thought was, "Well, isn't every month breastfeeding month"? Of course it is, but August is the 'official' month to get together, throw parties and really get the word out.
What are you going to do? Is there something happening in your area?
One of the ways I choose to celebrate breastfeeding is by supporting and helping host a Live, Love, Latch event. Maybe you have one in your area, but have noticed that there are other breastfeeding events going on too. If you're like most busy moms (Really, is there any other type of mom??) you have to pick and choose where you spend your time. So, my mammary-milky friends, here's a couple of reasons I support Live, Love, Latch.
Reason 1) Everyone that comes and declares their support counts! Did you hear me people? Everyone!! (Because let's face it, if you're coming to a breastfeeding event doesn't that mean you support breastfeeding, why else would you be there?) To me, this seems logical. I know my husband was definitely a breastfeeding supporter. In fact, he was my biggest supporter in the middle of night when I was in pain from mastitis. I can't imagine him not counting. My other non-breastfeeding (at the time) children would count too. They certainly had to be on board when I was 'nursing the new baby'. Again, EVERYONE counts! Even the moms that are combo feeding. Even the moms that are feeding their milk from a bottle. They too, are breastfeeding supporters. We all have a different path. No one is left out. Things are much more fun that way, right!
Reason 2) It's backed and started by a pretty big breastfeeding organization. Maybe you've heard of it, La Leche League? Get it, Live, Love, Latch? Cute huh! All kidding aside, this one's really important. When you support an event, you're kinda saying, "hey, I like these people, I like what they do and stand for". Get to know who and why the event you go to got started.
So, keeping it real here. Get ready for August, get ready to celebrate World Breastfeeding Month.
If you reside in So Cal and are near the Antelope Valley, please join our Live, Love, Latch page.
If not, check out the main LiLoLa page and find one in your area. It's going to be a fun and exciting day to participate in wherever you go.
Photos from 2015 Antelope Valley Live, Love, Latch
Watch the baby, not the app.
It happened again. Another app that touts it will help breastfeeding moms showed up in my feed.
This one apparently teaches mom to recognize swallows. It's supposed to give the mom confidence that she has a good milk supply. Sounds great in theory, but dig a bit...
The advertisement shows a mom with ear buds in her ears, another bud of sort connected to baby near the jaw (yes, a wire thing is stuck to the baby) and then the thing is plugged into a mobile device. Mom is watching the phone as it tracks swallows. The commercial for the thing even tells you to watch the screen on your mobile device while nursing your baby.
I ask, why is she not watching the baby? Is that not a good way to engage and know if milk is transferring from mom to baby? Why is she not tracking diapers? Logic tells us that if baby is not wetting or soiling diapers, there is not enough input.
To me, this app is just another gimmick that pulls us away from learning our babies cues. Under normal circumstances, a healthy full-term baby is capable of telling us if things are working or not. Look at your babies moms, not some high priced app that is going to fill somebody's pocket with money while taking advantage of a new mom's insecurities.
If you are having doubts, insecurities or just need some reassuring, reach out to your local IBCLC, or La Leche League. I guarantee you will get more help from either of those (and certainly a lot more personal attention) than from some app. To top things off, if you are having trouble, you are going to need the help anyway, so why spend the money on a gimmick that takes your attention away from your baby?
When my babies were born, I often heard, "Watch the baby, not the clock". In this age of technology, I'd like to now say, "Watch the baby, not the app".
Check out the video that demonstrates a suck/swallow pattern with very audible swallow sounds.
Dawn Bower, IBCLC
My thoughts and ramblings.