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Post-Partum Depression and Omega-3s



Most women have heard of the “Baby Blues”—a reference to Post-Partum Depression (PPD). Researchers have determined that as many as 25% of moms may develop serious depression within the last trimester of their pregnancy or up to several months after giving birth[1].

Why does this happen? We know that during the last trimester there is a large push of DHA Omega-3 transferring from mom to the developing child. According to researchers, this may leave mom in a state of deficiency if she does not have adequate sources of Omega-3s in her daily diet. DHA is tied to dopamine and serotonin production in adults—so it can impact mood regulation. In developing babies, vital DHA supplies the building block material needed for healthy eyes and brain cells. It’s no wonder why Omega-3s are considered to be so important!

Moms-to-be should consume at least 200 mg of DHA Omega-3 daily[2] (that’s about ½ serving of salmon), however, data shows that most pregnant moms in North America ingest only 50-70 mgs of DHA in their daily diet.[3] This is potentially a real problem, for mom and baby! It’s easy to make sure you are getting enough Omega-3s daily. Fatty Acids 101: Both ALA (the parent Omega-3) and EPA have the potential to convert to DHA in your body---so, making sure you include Omega-3s daily, in any form, provides and “army of potential” for your good health.

So what should pregnant and new moms be sure to include in their diet? Add in Omega-3 foods like ground flax and chia seed. These are great used in recipes or added to a daily smoothie or yogurt—they both also provide dietary fiber, which is really important. Eat fresh fish such as salmon and cod as often as you can. Also supplement daily with a great quality Omega-3 supplement such as Barlean’s Omega Swirl Key Lime, Passion Pineapple or Citrus Sorbet, which are delicious, easy on the tummy, and provide Omega-3s that are highly absorbable and easily used by our bodies. Keep track of your Omega-3 intake during pregnancy and after your little one arrives!

Thankfully not every mom will not experience PPD, but pregnant and new moms should be aware that any symptoms of depression they might experience during this time should be discussed with their doctor, naturopath, midwife or other health care professional.


[1] Omega-3s may cut postpartum depression risk Medscape. Apr 28, 2011.

[2] Recommendation by the March of Dimes association.

[3] Experimental Biology 2011 Annual Meeting, abstract 349.7, presented April 12, 2011. Dr. Michelle Judge.