Posted by on May 22, 2018 - 9:40am

Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth, with 13% of childbearing parents affected in the first year after giving birth [1]. Most do not receive treatment for postpartum mood disorders.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for postpartum depression include stressful life events and a history of mood disorders, in addition to other known factors related to depression [1]. African-American and Hispanic women experience postpartum depressive more often than white women. Transgender men and other gender nonconforming people have difficulty finding high quality healthcare in pregnancy, which increases their risk of mental health distress [2].


Postpartum depression is rarely treated. Studies have shown that women are unsure of how to treat depression during and after pregnancy [3]. Raising awareness with physicians and promoting collaboration between medical, psychiatric, and other wellness professionals is an great way to help patients work through that confusion.

Recent research has looked at potential solutions to pregnancy-related mental health disorders:

  • Postpartum Support International provides resources to mothers in English and Spanish as well as trainings for healthcare professionals.
  • Dr. Katherine Wisner of Northwestern University recently published a study showing that a telephone-based depression care management system, connecting patients to their doctors and information regarding other resources, lessened symptoms of mood disorders [4].
  • Drs. Hoffkling, Obedin-Maliver, and Sevelius published guidelines for physicians caring for gender nonconforming patients around pregnancy [2].


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a helpful questionnaire available here if you believe you may be experiencing depression.



1.         Wisner, K.L., B.L. Parry, and C.M. Piontek, Clinical practice. Postpartum depression. N Engl J Med, 2002. 347(3): p. 194-9.

2.         Hoffkling, A., J. Obedin-Maliver, and J. Sevelius, From erasure to opportunity: a qualitative study of the experiences of transgender men around pregnancy and recommendations for providers. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 2017. 17(Suppl 2): p. 332.

3.         Battle, C.L., et al., Perinatal antidepressant use: understanding women's preferences and concerns. J Psychiatr Pract, 2013. 19(6): p. 443-53.

4.         Wisner, K.L., et al., Telephone-Based Depression Care Management for Postpartum Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Psychiatry, 2017. 78(9): p. 1369-1375.


Posted by on April 13, 2018 - 3:09pm

By Alexa Karczmar

Maternal health in the U.S. has been on the decline for the past forty years. The Department of Health and Human Services has reported that maternal mortality has been on the rise for the last three years, and in the 2014 Trends in Maternal Mortality report, the American maternal mortality rate (MMR) had more than doubled in the preceding 13 years [1].The same report demonstrated that the MMR of the U.S. had the highest level of annual increase in maternal death in all of the countries they had studied.

This crisis disproportionately affects Black women, who are more than four times more likely to die in childbirth than White women [2]. Black women face higher rates of poverty than White women and are less likely to be insured [3]. They have higher rates of chronic health conditions that are considered risk factors in maternal death, including heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes [4]. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited chronic health conditions as a major risk factor for maternal mortality and suspect in its rates of increase, and the impact of these diseases on Black women are likely exacerbated by their underrepresentation in clinical trials.

Per the Black Mamas Matter Toolkit, Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW) is a week intended to:

  • Increase attention to the state of Black maternal health in the US;
  • Amplify the voices of Black mamas, women, families, and stakeholders;
  • Serve as a national platform for Black-women led entities and efforts on maternal; health, birth justice, and reproductive justice; and
  • Enhance community organizing on Black maternal health.

This month, our blog posts and newsletters will further highlight maternal health, sex-inclusive research, and potential solutions in healthcare policy and practice.

You can learn more about BMHW and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance by following them on Twitter @BlkMamasMatter and visiting their website at


1.         Unicef, Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2013. 2014.

2.         Creanga, A.A., et al., Maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States: where are we now? Journal of Women's Health, 2014. 23(1): p. 3-9.

3.         Stephens, J., S. Artiga, and J. Paradise, Health coverage and care in the south in 2014 and beyond. 2014: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

4.         Robbins, C., et al., Disparities in Preconception Health Indicators - Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2013-2015, and Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, 2013-2014. MMWR Surveill Summ, 2018. 67(1): p. 1-16.


Posted by on November 24, 2015 - 3:59pm

Two recent studies just emphasized how important breast-feeding can be...for mothers. One study found that women who breast-feed may have more protection against a "particularly vicious type of breast cancer," while another report suggests breast-feeding can have positive implications for women who had gestational diabetes to avoid becoming lifelong diabetics. Prior research names other benefits too--such as decreased risk for breast and ovarian cancers, Type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Dr. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, professor of medicine at the University of California, Davis estimates that "near-universal breast-feeding in the United States could spare an estimated 5,000 women a breast cancer diagnosis every year and cut nearly 14,000 heart attacks"--a staggering statistic. These most recent studies on the effects of breast-feeding analyzed dozens of studies of nearly 40,000 cancer cases globally. This study was published in the Annals of Oncology and discussed how breast-feeding reduced the risk of hormone receptor negative tumors by up to 20%--significant because this type of breast cancer is known for being very aggressive. 

Dr. Marisa Weiss, senior author on the study, places pregnancy and lactation as important phases in one's breast maturation and life cycle. Interestingly, it is found that lactation triggers important changes in one's milk duct cells, which make the breast more resistant to cancer. Furthermore, women who have gestational diabetes are encouraged to breast-feed because "lactation improves glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity...improving lipid metabolism" and burning calories and fat that was accumulated during pregnancy. 

Indeed one's body undergoes many changes during pregnancy and lactation, and it is fascinating to discover how these phases connect to one's holistic health!

Source: The New York Times

Posted by on December 4, 2013 - 9:12am

About 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended and are higher among adolescents and young women, minorities and women with less educational and financial resources.  Thus strategies to prevent unintended pregnancies include assisting women at risk in choosing appropriate contraceptive methods and helping women use those methods properly and consistently.  A new report prepared by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion is now available and addresses sometimes controversial or complex issues regarding specific contraceptive methods.    They utilize recommendations originally made by the World Health Organization but they have been tailored more specifically to the U.S.