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The ugly side of breastfeeding: D-MER

So, I first noticed that something was different when I was about ten days postpartum. I was changing Maeve's diaper (which she screamed and cried throughout) late in the evening and had a wave of anxiety. It went as quickly as it came, but it was a bit jarring. I kept asking myself what I was worried about, why changing my newborn's diaper would make me feel anxious (and so out of the blue), but since the feeling passed quickly, my tired brain moved on to feeding her, or falling asleep sitting up, or maybe online shopping for another oh so important hair bow while late night nursing.

Oh hi BTW! I'm so happy to be back sharing my breastfeeding journey here with the F&G community. If you're following us on Instagram, you probably saw my recent post about this topic and I want to open up about my experience with D-MER, or dysphoric milk ejection reflex.

First, I want to be very clear-I am only sharing what MY experience with Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (or D-MER for short), has been like. D-MER is different for every woman who experiences it, and my symptoms are quite mild in the grand scheme of things. I hope to normalize this diagnosis, help others understand what it feels like, and maybe help someone else who is struggling with similar symptoms.

Ok back to the story! After that somewhat random and overall forgettable experience, the waves of anxiety started to come more frequently... and they were all associated with Maeve crying, me pumping or nursing, or my breasts leaking. (Looking back now, I realize that it wasn't the crying that was the problem, it was the let-down I was having when she cried). The anxiety remained quite mild, mostly just an internal feeling of worry that passed within a minute or two, but it was consistent. And I remembered a story one of my favorite heart moms (mama of a baby with a cardiac detect) told me when I was working with her and her babe in the NICU. She had described a similar experience with nursing--but she felt waves of depression with her let-down and her diagnosis of D-MER. As a lactation consultant and infant feeding specialist, I know I’m in a unique position. Most women have never heard of D-MER and will have these experiences for months before knowing what’s going on or will never know and will likely stop breastfeeding without ever figuring out why they don’t “love it” the way they thought they would.

After talking with my lactation consultant and the midwife at my OB's office, it was clear that