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Session Description
A New Paradigm for Depression in New Mothers
Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC
Recent research has revealed that systemic inflammation, the immune system response to
physical or psychological threat, increases the risk of depression. Puerperal women are
especially vulnerable because proinflammatory cytokines significantly increase during
the last trimester of pregnancy, the time when women are most at risk for depression, and
continues on through the postpartum period. In addition, common experiences of new
motherhood, such as sleep deprivation, postpartum pain, and psychological trauma, also
cause inflammation levels to rise. This session will describe the inflammatory response
and its relation to physical and psychological stress. This session will also show why
breastfeeding and anti-inflammatory treatments, such as Omega-3s, cognitive therapy and
antidepressants, protect maternal mental health by lowering the inflammatory response.