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.