Food and Maternal Mental Health


What we eat can affect how our bodies feel more than just physiologically. Research over the years has investigated the impact of food, supplements, and food scarcity on mental health, including the effects on postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).


Historically, many cultures thought that the first 40 days postpartum were crucial to support the mother; to stave off illnesses including mental ones. One major way this was accomplished was by providing the mother with plenty of nutritive meals. Even though today can be more chaotic, and you may not have a huge network of support to bring you food, there are ways you can try to develop a nutrition plan to help postpartum recovery.


Though it maybe not necessary to take specific supplements before you are pregnant1 (with the exception of zinc perhaps), during pregnancy it is essential to make sure that you are getting a good balance of nutrients, and not just for the baby’s development.


A “healthy” diet is made up of appropriate portions of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and fish while an “unhealthy” diet is full of refined grains, sweets, fast foods, and energy drinks. The “unhealthy” diet, besides being linked to a host of problems like obesity, has also been associated with increased depressive symptoms and signs at 32 weeks.8


It is also important to make sure you are eating enough food, because food insecurity during the postpartum period can lead to maternal depression.2 5 In other words, though it may not be truly necessary to “eat for two” while pregnant, you do need to make sure you are getting the right amount of nutrients for your body, even after birth, when your body is trying to recover. And after your baby is born, it’s important to avoid aggressively cutting calories to get back your body (unless discussed with your doctor).


As for what supplements are most important to decrease the PMADs risk, the research studies haven’t come to an agreement. However, it appears that traditional western diets as well as those deficient in n-3 fatty acids are most strongly related to increased prevalence of PPD, especially among low-income individuals.4 7


This general lack of concrete answers as to what is needed in our diets may be because nutrition is a complex problem and doesn’t lend itself to simple solutions. Instead, we need to find more holistic approaches to nutrition because as we go through the drastic physical and emotional changes of birth, our bodies need a balance of a lot of different supplements/nutrients to help our mental health. This idea, that it’s more important to have supplementation broadly, is supported by a multitude of studies. Some studies looked at a select few supplements (like fatty acid-rich lipid based nutrient supplements, iron-folate, and multiple-micronutrient capsules) and found that women taking any one of the three had no difference in symptoms from the others.3


However, zinc intake appears to be supportive against psychological stress.6 Newer studies found that after birth, moms have low zinc levels but high levels of a protein called C-reactive protein (CRP). Postpartum depression was found to be fairly accurately predicted if the mother had prenatal depression, fatigue, low zinc levels and high CRP.10 Given that women with a history of anxiety, depression, and PMS were seen to have low zinc levels, maybe taking a zinc supplement during the pre-pregnancy stage could help reduce the risk of postpartum depression later.


Lastly, probiotics have been making a headway in research. Women taking Lactobacillus rhamnosus (found in some types of kombucha, kefir, etc) have been found in to have lower depression and anxiety rates.9 In general, reviews being published are pretty excited about the potential of probiotics to help reduce depressive symptoms, specifically looking at the effects of probiotics on the “gut-brain axis”.11 This will definitely be a topic to keep a look out for and discuss with your doctor in the coming years, as probiotics have fewer side effects than many front-line medications, or may be useful to take in conjunction with those medications.


Our takeaway should be that though there isn’t a concise guideline for the best foods and supplements pregnant ladies/mothers should consume to prevent PMADs, it does seem that what you eat may have an effect on your risk levels. Because of this we should strive to eat “healthier” and make sure to talk with a doctor to check to see if you are deficient in any crucial nutrients, especially zinc, and start asking about the benefits of probiotic supplements.


In the meantime, below is a guideline that may help you start-off. It focuses on nutrient-dense foods such as:

Colorful vegetables and fruits: leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, berries, citrus, cranberries

Healthy proteins: bone broths, grass-fed beef, low-mercury fish

Healthy fats: avocados and extra-virgin olive oil

Healthy grains: quinoa, oats, millet, rice

Probiotic foods: yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir


Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies are important for reducing inflammation, which has been linked with postpartum depression.12 Bone broth helps provide collagen, which we need to help with all sorts of healing and tissue repair. It and other proteins also help keep blood sugar balanced.


After talking to your doctor, you may want to ask if you can get your supplements through foods rather than pills. A great resource for learning about what types of foods have what vitamins and other nutrients is an article by Dr. Alejandra Carrasco on Mind Body Green. She mentions food sources for magnesium, selenium, iodine, zinc, folate, iron, vitamin B12, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin A, essential fatty acids, proteins, and collagen.


Next make sure you are drinking enough water. Childbirth involved losing a lot of blood and as your body changes back to a non-pregnant state, you will need water to replenish it. This is even more crucial if you are also breastfeeding.


And lastly, try to have only sparing amounts of highly inflammatory foods like desserts that include refined sugars (white sugar, corn syrup, etc). Also try not to consume too much honey or maple syrup.




  1. Nguyen PH, DiGirolamo AM, Gonzalez-Casanova I, Pham H, Hao W, Nguyen H, Truong TV, Nguyen S, Harding KB, Reinhart GA, Martorell R, Ramakrishnan U. Impact of preconceptional micronutrient supplementation on maternal mental health during pregnancy and postpartum: results from a randomized controlled trial in Vietnam. BMC Women’s Health 2017 June 17; 17: 44


  1. Nagata JM, Gomberg S, Hagan MJ, Heyman MB, Wojcicki JM. Food insecurity is associated with maternal depression and pervasive developmental symptoms in low-income Latino households. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. 2018 Feb 20.


  1. Stewart RC, Ashorn P, Umar E, Dewey KG, Ashorn U, Creed F, Rahman A, Tomenson B, Prado EL, Maleta K. The impact of maternal diet fortification with lipid-based nutrient supplements on postpartum depression in rural Malawi: a randomised-controlled trial. Maternal & Child Nutrition. 2016 Apr 5; 13(2).


  1. Leung BMY, Kaplan BJ. Perinatal Depression: Prevalence, Risks, and the Nutrition Link – A Review of the Literature. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009 Sept; 109(9): 1566-1575.


  1. Tsai AC, Tomlinson M, Comulada WS, Rotheram-Borus MJ. Food insufficiency, depression, and the modifying role of social support: Evidence from a population-based, prospective cohort of pregnant women in peri-urban South Africa. Social Science & Medicine. 2016 Feb; 151: 67-77.


  1. Roy A, Evers SE, Avison WR, Campbell MK. Higher zinc intake buffers the impact of stress on depressive symptoms in pregnancy. Nutrition Research; 30(1): 695-704.


  1. Moran K. Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Prenatal Nutrition and Postpartum Depression. The Grace Peterson Nursing Research Colloquium. 2017.


  1. Baskin R, Hill B, Jacka FN, O’Neil A, Skouteris H. Antenatal dietary patterns and depressive symptoms during pregnancy and early post-partum. Maternal & Child Nutrition. 2016 Jan 3; 13(1)


  1. Slykerman RF, Hood F, Wickens K, Thompson JMD, Barthow C, Murphy R, Kang J, Rowden J, Stone P, Crane J, Stanley T, Abels P, Purdie G, Maude R, Mitchell EA. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 in Pregnancy on Postpartum Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety: A Randomised Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial. EBioMedicine. 2017 Oct; 24: 159-165.


  1. Roomruangwong C, Kanchanatawan B, Sirivichayakul S, Mahieu B, Nowak G, Maes M. Lower Serum Zinc and Higher CRP Strongly Predict Prenatal Depression and Physic-Somatic Symptoms, Which All Together Predict Postnatal Depressive Symptoms. Molecular Neurobiology. 2017 Mar; 54(2): 1500-1512.


  1. Wallace CJK, Milev R. The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review.


12. Bränn E, Fransson E, White RA, Papadopoulos FC, Edvinsson Å, Kamali-Moghaddam M, Cunningham JL, Sundström-Poromaa I, Skalkidou A. Inflammatory markers in women with postpartum depressive symptoms. Journal of Neuroscience Research. 2018 Sept 5.

Related posts

A Doula’s Role

As a birth worker, I was trained as a birth and postpartum Doula, birth educator, placenta Encapsulator and midwife assistant. However, very little time or training was spent on recognizing and helping treat postpartum mood disorders. The subjects were...

Read More

Comments ( 63 )

  • Zach

    Hi, very nice website, cheers!
    Need cheap and reliable hosting? Our shared plans start at $10 for an year and VPS plans for $6/Mo.
    Check here:

  • Lashunda

    We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your website offered us with valuable information to work on. You have
    done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

    Here is my web blog: well g

  • Iris

    Hello! I’ve been following your weblog for some time now and finally got the courage
    to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Tx!

    Just wanted to tell you keep up the great job!

    my website … g this

  • Brock

    This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have
    joined your feed and look forward to seeking more g of your fantastic post.
    Also, I have shared your site in my social networks!

  • Francis

    It’s awesome in favor of me to have a web site, which is helpful
    designed for my knowledge. thanks admin

    Look into my blog g rsacwgxy

  • Blondell

    I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a
    blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and without a
    doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few people are speaking intelligently
    about. I’m very happy I found this in my search for something regarding

    My site cbd oil (

  • Neal

    Hi friends, how is all, and what you wish for to say regarding this article,
    in my view its really remarkable designed for me.

    Here is my blog post – cbd oil (

  • Kaylene

    Hi there colleagues, how is all, and what you wish for to say on the topic of this piece of writing, in my view its
    in fact amazing in favor of me.

    Feel free to visit my page: cbd oil []

  • Lamont

    I like what you guys are up too. Such clever work
    and reporting! Keep up the great works guys I’ve added you
    guys to our blogroll.

    My blog post; cbd oil –

  • Franchesca

    I’d like to thank you for the efforts you’ve
    put in writing this website. I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade content from you later on as well.
    In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to
    get my own, personal blog now 😉

    Also visit my web-site: cbd oil that works 2020

  • Deandre

    I have been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles
    or blog posts on this sort of house . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this website.
    Studying this info So i am happy to exhibit cbd oil that works 2020 I have an incredibly just right
    uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed.
    I most for sure will make sure to don?t disregard this website
    and provides it a look regularly.

  • Warner

    Admiring the persistence you put into your website and in depth information you present.
    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while cbd oil that works 2020 isn’t the same
    old rehashed information. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  • Roosevelt

    Hi there! I simply wish to give you a big thumbs up for the
    great information you’ve got here on this post.
    I will be coming back to your blog for more soon.

    my website cbd oil that works 2020

  • Camilla

    I all the time emailed this web site post page to all my contacts, since if like to
    read it afterward my links will too.

    Here is my web blog – content hosting

  • Deon

    Usually I do not learn article on blogs, but I wish to
    say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do so!
    Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite nice article.

    Also visit my blog … best web hosting

  • Joshua

    Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice at the same time as you amend your site,
    how can i subscribe for a weblog best web hosting sites site?
    The account helped me a appropriate deal. I were tiny
    bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered vibrant
    transparent idea

  • Ismael

    Hi there I am so glad I found your webpage, I really found you by
    accident, while I was researching on Yahoo for something else, Anyhow I am
    here now and would just like to say thank you for a
    remarkable post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to read it all at the minute but I have saved it and also included your
    RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please
    do keep up the great jo.

    Also visit my site … best web hosting company

  • Eric

    Nice post. I was checking continuously this weblog and I am
    inspired! Very helpful information specifically the
    remaining section 🙂 I take care of such info a lot. I was seeking this certain info for a long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

    Also visit my blog post … content hosting

  • Walter

    Hey There. I found your weblog using msn. This is a really smartly written article.
    I will be sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of
    your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll
    definitely comeback.

    my website – cheap airline tickets

  • Frank

    I’m not sure why but this web site is loading extremely slow for me.

    Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my
    end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

    Stop by my page; cheap flights with hotel

  • Lashawn

    My brother recommended I would possibly like this web site.
    He was once totally right. This put up truly made my
    day. You cann’t believe just how so much time I had spent for this information!

    Also visit my web blog … scanner

  • Lori

    Wonderful website. A lot of helpful information here.
    I am sending it to some friends ans also sharing in delicious.
    And obviously, thank you in your effort!

    My web page – web hosting companies

  • Carma

    Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended
    up losing several weeks of hard work due to no back up.
    Do you have any solutions to stop hackers?

    Also visit my web site: website hosting services

  • Dominga

    My brother recommended I might like this web hosting company site.
    He was entirely right. This post truly made my day.

    You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info!

  • 바카라사이트추천

    There is clearly a lot to know about this. I consider you made various good points in features also.

  • 우리카지노

    Thank you for sharing superb informations. Your website is very cool. I am impressed by the details that you have on this website. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject.

  • Regena

    I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for magnificent information I was looking for this information for
    my mission.

    Here is my web site; hosting services

  • Ted

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email.
    I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be
    interested in hearing. Either way, great website hosting services and I
    look forward to seeing it improve over time.

  • Cyrus

    This paragraph presents clear idea in support of the new viewers of blogging,
    that really how to do blogging.

    my web site – best web hosting company

  • Leonardo

    You have made some really good points there. I looked on the net for more info about the issue and found most people will
    go along with your views on this website.

    my website – web hosting sites

  • Beatris

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was
    wondering what all is needed to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would
    cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web hosting savvy so I’m not 100% sure.
    Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

  • Audrey

    Have you ever thought about adding a little bit
    more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything.
    Nevertheless imagine if you added some great images or videos to
    give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this website could definitely be one
    of the best web hosting 2020 in its field.
    Excellent blog!

  • Dorthy

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe this amazing site needs much more attention. I’ll probably
    be back again to read more, thanks for the

    Take a look at my web site – web hosting sites

  • Ivey

    Good day! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my
    good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this.
    I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Also visit my web blog … cheap flights

  • Jefferson

    I every time spent my half an hour to read this web site’s posts every day along with a
    mug of coffee. cheap flights 32hvAj4

  • Antoinette

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It actually used
    to be a enjoyment account it. Glance advanced to far introduced agreeable from you!
    However, how could we keep in touch? cheap flights y2yxvvfw

  • Cheri

    Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the web
    the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while
    people think about worries that they just do not know
    about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take
    a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks cheap flights 31muvXS

  • Rose

    I’ll right away seize your rss as I can not in finding your email subscription link
    or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly permit me realize so that I could subscribe.

    Feel free to visit my blog post: best web hosting 2020

  • Yasmin

    What’s up to all, how is everything, I think every one is getting more from this website, and your views
    are pleasant for new users. cheap flights 31muvXS

  • Dwayne

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the layout of your blog?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it
    better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one
    or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

    My web site :: cheap flights

  • Monika

    Hello to every one, for the reason that I am genuinely eager of reading
    this web site’s post to be updated on a regular basis.
    It carries pleasant material.

    my webpage; cheap flights

  • Marcelino

    I love what you guys are up too. Such clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the terrific works guys I’ve included you guys to blogroll.

    My homepage – cheap flights

  • Catherine

    Hi my friend! I wish to say that this article is awesome, great written and come with almost
    all significant infos. I would like to see more posts like this .

    Look into my web blog – cheap flights

  • Parthenia

    My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different web address and thought I
    might check things out. I like what I see so i am
    just following you. Look forward to looking over your
    web page again.

    Stop by my web-site cheap flights

  • Genia

    Nice blog here! Also your site loads up fast!
    What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link
    to your host? I wish my website loaded up as
    quickly as yours lol

    Check out my web page – cheap flights

  • David

    We’re a group of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community.
    Your website provided us with useful information to work on. You’ve done a formidable activity and
    our entire neighborhood will probably be
    grateful to you.

    Have a look at my website: black mass

  • Florentina

    Outstanding post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a
    litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further.
    Thank you!

    Stop by my web-site … black mass

  • Colin

    Spot on with this write-up, I really believe this web site
    needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the info!

    my blog; black mass

  • Carmella

    Hi! I’ve been reading your website for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Texas!
    Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic work!

    Also visit my web site :: web host

  • Rosalind

    Very good information. Lucky me I recently found your blog by chance (stumbleupon).
    I’ve book-marked it for later!

    My webpage … best web hosting 2020

  • Rafaela

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed
    browsing your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

    Feel free to visit my web page – best web hosting

  • Laure Gherman

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to send you an email. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it develop over time.

Leave a Comment