Clinics in Human Lactation: Non-Pharmacologic Treatments for Depression in New Mothers
by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

[2008, Amarillo, Texas: Hale Publishing; 92 pages, paperback.]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 98, Summer 2011, © 2011, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Toni Rakestraw.]

The first paragraph of this informative book tells readers, “Approximately 10% to 20% of mothers will develop postpartum depression. In high-risk populations, that percentage can be as high as 40% to 50%.” With these numbers, it is imperative that providers from all areas of maternity care learn about how to deal with depression in their clients. Luckily, Kathleen Kendall-Tackett has provided a good resource.

Depressed mothers may suffer health problems; they may have marital problems and their babies may suffer the consequences, which include more cognitive, behavioral and social difficulties as they grow up. Midwives and doulas have an optimal opportunity to help mothers who are exhibiting symptoms of depression in the postpartum period. Mothers already trust their midwives and doulas, and may be more apt to follow their advice, especially when it doesn’t require seeing a physician and getting a prescription.

Kendall-Tackett’s book outlines many non-pharmacologic treatments, like increasing omega-3 fatty acids, light therapy, exercise and social support. She offers information on the benefits of different treatments and how they work with breastfeeding. Treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are explained in detail, as are herbal remedies such as St. John’s Wort. The book also delves into combining the many treatments, though Kendall-Tackett warns not to overwhelm the new mother with too many things at once.

This book is an excellent resource for any practicing midwife or doula to keep on hand. Each treatment is well supported with studies, clinical trials (where applicable) and risk factors to keep in mind.

Reviewer Toni Rakestraw, mother of eight children, was once a practicing birth doula. Now she spends her time writing, editing and creating birth art. She’s happy to accept editing and art projects. You may contact her at

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