Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER): My experience.

Tonight I’ve decided to sit down and write about an uncomfortable experience.  Breastfeeding.  I know…I sound awful right?  How can I be a mom knowing good and well that “breast is best” and be uncomfortable by the process?  This is how.  It is called D-MER. Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex.  With both of my children I suffered from this awful condition.

Nearly 5 years ago when I found out I was pregnant with my son I knew I would breastfeed.  I knew nothing about it but knew I would do it because it was supposed to be the best thing for my baby.   At 41 weeks my sweet boy was born and took quite well to the breast.  I felt so happy and accomplished that we both knew exactly what to do.  It felt so natural.  It also felt… terrible.  I was a new mother so I didn’t know what to expect.  I just know that before my milk let down, I felt inconsolable sadness.  I felt such debilitating depression.  It came and went in less than a minute, but the feeling was so intense.  It lingered with me because the sadness felt physical.  The depression physically hurt.  I’d never been so overcome with intense grief and emotion that I felt like I would vomit.   Yet, every time the milk came down… there was the feeling again.  I didn’t say anything at first because I thought maybe I was just adjusting.  I didn’t want to admit that I hated the feeling.  No one had ever told me this happens… so everyone must be able to deal with it.  Admitting it would have made me a bad mother.  I told myself all of those things.  Finally, I mentioned it briefly to the lactation consultant at my hospital.  She thought it was interesting but didn’t have any idea what was going on.  She kind of blew it off and said, “well, if you know it passes you can just tell yourself that and get through the moment.”  This was true, but it was still upsetting.  I began to dread breastfeeding.

I shared my story with fellow moms and no one knew what I was talking about.  This apparently did not happen to all of my friends.  This hadn’t happened to my mother.  I was depressed, but determined to figure out what was going on.  I googled frantically and finally stumbled upon some information about D-MER.  It was EXACTLY what was happening to me!  Finally!  I had some answers!  Just seeing that there were others out there with this same condition comforted me immensely.  Unfortunately, there is still not much known about this condition.

I made it 6 months breastfeeding my son.  I had some postpartum issues in addition to the D-MER that stood in the way of breastfeeding for me.  My son also seemed to nurse constantly.  Stopping breastfeeding was a very sad decision to make and I had several moments of feeling like a failure, but ultimately it felt like the best decision at the time.

Last year I had my second child.  An 8 lb 10 oz baby girl.  She also took to the breast extremely well and I felt that joy and accomplishment again.  Unfortunately, like last time, the D-MER was back.  My daughter nursed around the clock and the let down of my milk was so intense.  I suffered from awful postpartum anxiety/OCD after the birth of my daughter, which seemed to make the intense emotions with breastfeeding much worse.  A few weeks postpartum I suffered a minor infection and had to go on medication.  I had to stop breastfeeding for 10 days or so.  I tried to keep up with pumping but with a 2.5 year old and a newborn… it was all too much.  I was overwhelmed with day to day life and D-MER didn’t make things ANY easier.  I made it a few months and then switched to formula at the suggestion of several doctors.  It is not the decision everyone would have made, or the decision I thought I would choose, but it was the best decision at the time for myself and our family.

Breastfeeding is a huge topic in the new mommy world.  There is almost a shame attached to not breastfeeding.  Because of this, mothers with any sort of issue feel guilty, embarrassed, less than, ashamed.   I can’t honestly put into words the hurt I felt/feel knowing that both of my children were excellent eaters that took extremely well to the breast and I was the reason they weren’t breastfed for an extended period.  I can’t go back to that place.  It was something that contributed to my extreme postpartum depression.  The guilt was unprecedented.  But because of this, I ask the mom community to come together for other moms, ALL moms.  You never know another person’s story.  You may not even know that conditions like D-MER exist.  Your experience is your own.  What a new mommy needs most is love.

I’ve linked to a few articles about Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex in this post and I encourage new mothers (or anyone) to check them out.  More research is needed for this condition as well as knowledge and support.  If you think you may be suffering from D-MER please see your doctor, and for now take comfort in the fact that I know what you’re going through, as well as many other moms.  It is TOUGH, but you will get through it.

14 thoughts on “Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER): My experience.

  1. welcometothenursery says:

    Wow, what an intense emotion – I’m so sorry you went through this. I’ve never heard of D-MER; thank you for educating us readers!

    I was just talking to my friend with a 2mo that is supplementing with formula already because she can’t make enough milk (despite a LOT of pumping), and she feels SUCH guilt! She told me she thought no one supplements and she felt like a failure. I told her most people supplement at some point and to NOT feel guilty. The mommy shame is real! So sad. But she is over it now. I’m glad you are, too. Every mom knows their own body and their own baby next. No one should ever judge!

    Liked by 1 person

    • MommyIsExhausted says:

      Thank you for posting this! There is such extreme guilt. I had to supplement with both pregnancies before finally switching. It is SO hard to decide to do that. Positive thoughts and wishes for your friend! ❤️


  2. realfoodiefamily says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. That sounds really tough. I can’t imagine that on top of just the pure exhaustion and new babies worries that come our way. Thanks for being open and sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brooke @ BrookieCreative says:

    Wow I’ve never heard of this. There needs to be more awareness that this exists! I wonder how many mothers have this and have just thought it was post natal depression or been shrugged off.
    It sounds really awful.
    Thanks for writing about it! Even though my child bearing days are over (I think) it’s still good to be made aware of these unknown conditions for friends of mine that are just starting to have kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Simply Mom Bailey says:

    DMER is such a crazy experience that some women body does, and thanks for sharing your story. There aren’t many out there, and I know many women feel lost and confused while experiencing these feelings. I struggle a lot with nursing aversions with my second pregnancy, as a result of my PPD/A and its good to find resources that remind us we aren’t the only ones feeling a little put back by breastfeeding at times.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mommyingmaars says:

    Omgoodness mama! I know exactly how you feel! I remember feeling so afraid to breastfeed the idea, wasn’t something I understood at 21. It was my first child..I got a breast pump and all assuming I’d produce so much milk because from the very little reading I did about pregnancy it mentioned your milk may come during pregnancy. It never did for me. Even after having the baby. I struggled. I felt terrible I couldn’t..I couldn’t even produce an ounce. .let alone breastfeeding. My son wasn’t getting any. Six years later, and more knowledgeable about it I would try again with my second, a girl. I wanted tI be like all the other moms who can produce and feed their baby from them..I wanted that bond. That experience. Again, it failed. I had nothing. Third baby came a year later and I tried again..again nothing. I felt so broken, incapable and it made me feel really depressed. My body wasn’t good enough. All three babies delivery had some sort of minimal complication..and to feel like I was broken all around ate at me. Now the youngest are 1 and 2 and the oldest 8..I just recently found out I suffer from Postpartum Depression & Anxiety with OCD. Life is hard at the moment for my whole family. Coping is so difficult. But you sharing makes a difference to those who suffer in motherhood and feel they’re incapable. You are not! You are not broken or incapable or weak. You are the best mom for your children! You alone. Sending you lots of virtual hugs! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Marcie in Mommyland says:

    How interesting! I’ve heard the term D-Mer but never really understood it. Thanks for explaining it so well. What an awful feeling it must have been for you. I always tell new Moms that Fed is best. Breastfeeding doesn’t always work for Mom or baby or both. I’m glad you figured out what it was!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. happymomblogger says:

    Wow I’ve never heard of this condition before. It’ sounds really horrible. It’s amazing what motherhood does to us and all the emotions it puts us through. You sound like a really strong and loving momma. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

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