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Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER)

Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER)

April 27, 2021

It wasn't until fairly recently that the horrible abrupt rush of negative emotions some women experience while breastfeeding was given the name, D-MER. For years, women struggled silently, not knowing or understanding exactly what was happening and why they were experiencing such a flood of terrible emotions during a let-down while breastfeeding. 

 

If you have been or currently are one of these women, know that you're not alone.

 

While not common, D-MER is still prevalent. In short, D-MER occurs when the rise of oxytocin that happens with nipple stretching during breastfeeding is followed by an abrupt "drop" in the hormone dopamine. It is this sudden drop in the dopamine which causes the flood of negative emotions moms will report experiencing.

"I feel icky."

"I feel anxious and I don't know why."

"I have a strong aversion to food."

"I feel like there's something in the pit of my stomach."

These are just a few examples of things women with D-MER have reported feeling.

 

During a breastfeeding or pumping session the hormones oxytocin and prolactin increase from nipple stimulation and stretching. It is when the prolactin levels increase that the dopamine levels then go back to normal, which in turn helps those negative emotions subside. This is why women typically experience the horrible feelings just before a let-down and anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes afterwards. 

 


In the past these symptoms were misdiagnosed as postpartum depression and/or anxiety. But, it's important to note that they are different, which is why it's beneficial to reach out to a local IBCLC if you're experiencing any negative feelings. You don't need to navigate through it alone. Thankfully, many women report that with time symptoms do seem to improve but there is unfortunately no "cure". 

 

If D-MER is something you'd like more information on you can check out www.D-MER.org and their associated Facebook group Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) Support Group from d-mer.org

 

 

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash



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