Parenting Pregnancy Problems/Tips

The Breastfeeding Blues, a.k.a D-MER

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D-MER aka The Breastfeeding Blues
What happens when breastfeeding isn’t as magical as some women lead you to believe?

As the weeks pass and I get closer to meeting Baby #2, those old breastfeeding concerns are becoming more prominent in my mind…will I suffer from the breastfeeding blues (D-MER) again?

I did not have the greatest experience with breastfeeding the first time around.

To be fair, certain elements did go my way- the baby latched easily, I had no trouble producing milk, and feeding sessions were nice and quick (seven-minutes-per-side-quick!).

BUT.

And this was a HUGE “but.”

BUT, every single time my milk let down, I had a peculiar sensation wash over me. It was like a brief wave of sadness/homesickness that lasted no more than a minute, but it reliably came every time I nursed.

I didn’t pay much attention at first. But as the feelings persistently made themselves a frequent part of my day, I became concerned.

I talked to a few close friends and family members about it, but none of them had gone through it. I decided to look it up on the Internet. I instantly found a name for what I was experiencing: Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER).

According to¬†KellyMom (a fabulous resource for new mommies), D-MER is a “physiological response that appears to be tied to a sudden decrease in the brain chemical dopamine immediately before milk let-down.”

What this means is that it’s not psychological- it’s not like with a lot of concentrating or behavior modification, I could “wish” these feelings away. It is a bodily reaction to the decrease in dopamine.

It was interesting…once I had a name for what I was feeling, I was able to handle it better. I no longer felt like I was going through this alone. It comforted me to know that other women suffered from D-MER, too.

Each time before I nursed, I mentally prepared myself for the fact that this feeling was going to come, and I accepted it. Of course, I tried to distract myself when I could. That helped sometimes.




I nursed my daughter for almost eight months (until she tried to bite me), and then I pumped until she turned a year old. The D-MER never went away during that time.

I definitely considered quitting breastfeeding, but I felt like I could tough it out. This was the only significant problem I faced as a new mom. I think if I had been facing any additional obstacles, for example, a colicky baby or an unsupportive husband, I would have opted to quit breastfeeding.

Thankfully, though, I had a pretty good baby and a wonderfully helpful husband and family.

So that is why I am dreading breastfeeding again. I have prepared myself for the possibility that the D-MER may return, and that it may be harder to deal with this time around with two kids.

I have already given myself a pass- acknowledging privately that it’s okay if I don’t breastfeed as long this time. I will just do the best I can.

If you are experiencing similar feelings, talk to your doctor and find out more information about D-MER.

To read another post about my struggle with D-MER, click here.

 

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  • MCL
    April 17, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    “Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things you will do” my sister told me. Of course before my son arrived I had no idea what she meant. Now 9 months in with 3 months of breastfeeding and 6 months of exclusively pumping I can see her point. Your post also reminds me that many women aren’t aware that when they stop breastfeeding they can have depressive syndromes as well. I agree Kelly Mom is a fantastic resource, I still use that website 9 months in.

  • Becky
    April 17, 2013 at 7:25 AM

    Thanks for putting this info out there. I loved Kelly Mom as a resource when I was nursing, but I hadn’t heard of D-MER. Sending you good vibes for this round of nursing!
    Becky recently posted…Stonyfield Yogurt Smoothies on the MOO-veMy Profile

  • Beth P
    April 17, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    I had this too! It was a really terrible feeling and I would clench my teeth and bear it because I wanted to nurse my babies but nursing was a really hard time for me because of D-MER. Apparently nursing twins is a risk factor for D-MER because you make 2x as much milk, have a stronger letdown, more hormones overall. Good luck with the new baby!

    • The Naughty Mommy
      April 17, 2013 at 1:50 PM

      Oh wow, I can’t even IMAGINE having it double! You poor thing.

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