When Breastfeeding is Dreaded

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Many women experience breastfeeding differently. Some breastfeeding mothers absolutely love it and enjoy every waking (and not so awake!) moments of it. They look forward to it and look back on it fondly when the child has weaned. Some women do it for reasons that revolve more around nutrition for the child, and don’t particularly feel incredibly ecstatic about it… but do it anyway. There is a spectrum here that women who breastfeed land somewhere on. Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex is a condition that affects a small percentage of lactating women. It is a physiological response, in which feelings of depression, anxiety, agitation and nausea begin immediately before and during the let-down reflex during breastfeeding. This, my friends, falls on the very end of the spectrum for enjoyment of breastfeeding…

I write this to you as a mother who experienced D-MER for almost 24 months.

24 months of dreading every feeding, 24 months of sadness occurring each time my milk went to let down to nourish my babies. 24 months of feelings of wanting to curl up in a ball under my covers each time it was time to nurse.

When it would be time to nurse, I would follow the advice of my amazing lactation consultant, who happens to understand D-MER greatly. I would take a nice deep, cleansing breath. Get situated on the couch, and position ourselves to nurse. I would remind myself I would feel better in less than a minute after the let down, and just to get through the initial part. Baby would latch, and the pit in my stomach would form. Deep knots in a dark space. Then, the let down would happen and I could breathe again shortly after. I could see the joy from nourishment enriching my child’s soul. I could hear birds chirping outside, and I could see ourselves in our present moment. Together, here, now, as one. No dread. No dark cloud.

Until the next feeding.

There is no known cure for D-MER and there needs to be more studies done on it to fully understand how to support women and their babies during this physiological response to breastfeeding. For more information about D-MER, visit:

http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mother/d-mer/ or here

http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/e553972f#/e553972f/18

https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/dysphoric-milk-ejection-reflex-d-mer

http://www.d-mer.org

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21645333