Breastfeeding feelings and D-MER

Many thanks to Mothering Touch for sharing this video about a condition I had not heard of till now – Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER). The video is worth watching -knowing there is a physiological reason for negative feelings that come right before milk lets down can help many moms manage the condition.

The gist is that about 10% of breastfeeding mothers experience a wash of negative emotions preceding the milk let-down reflex. (For those to whom this is Greek: milk let-down occurs in response to the baby suckling – in the first few second/minutes of a breastfeeding session, the baby is not getting milk. The suckling stimulates the milk ducts to open and release the milk stored behind them. It often causes a physical tingling sensation, and is accompanied by a release of the hormone oxytocin – the bonding hormone – to the brain.) For 10% of nursing moms, the moments preceding milk let-down are accompanied by a brief sense of doom, failure, anger, panic and/or fear. Most moms who experience this don’t know it’s a physiological condition, and don’t find help.

Personally, in my early days of breastfeeding, I experienced a rush of sleepiness when my milk let down, and sometimes a feeling best described as peaceful sadness. The sad feeling has pretty much passed,  but I still often feel very sleepy in response to that dose of oxytocin. Not surprising – it’s the same hormone that makes us cuddle and sleep with our lovers. I always figured it was my body’s way of insuring that I get some rest, and that my baby and I snuggle and bond in a way I might overlook if not physically reminded to do it.

I want all moms who are willing to also be able to breastfeed – and to get help for any challenges they experience. I hope this post helps.

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One response to “Breastfeeding feelings and D-MER

  • Letty

    This is interesting. I can’t say that I’ve experienced this, but in the early days of nursing, I did notice, with both girls, that sometimes, as soon as they started suckling (or when I’d pump), occasionally, I’d get a feeling of “meh-boo.” Not dread or doom or anything, but more like: “i don’t like this show, can we change the channel please?” It usually only lasted a few seconds, but it was noticeable.

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