I've had several Postpartum Progress readers contact me in the last few months about the topic of breastfeeding-related feelings ofdepression. These moms feel just fine all the time EXCEPT right when they're about to breastfeed or are breastfeeding. This is a condition I must admit I hadn't heard of, but after a preponderance of emails about it, I thought I should look into it more. It doesn't surprise me that women who have this experience would worry that it is related to postpartum depression.
Kathleen Kendall-Tackett was kind enough to point me in the right direction by telling me about Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex, also called D-MER. According to D-MER.org, Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex is a newly recognized condition affecting lactating women which causes a surge of negative emotions to occur just before milk release. These emotions usually don't last more than a few minutes. They explain that D-MER is not postpartum depression, nor is it a postpartum mood disorder.
Moms with D-MERoften experience a hollow feeling or emotional churning in the stomach, and a feeling of dread, guilt, anxiety or anger prior to letdown. They state that a key experience of D-MER is that the mom feels fine except right before her milk starts to flow, with the feeling lasting only as much as 2 minutes, though some moms with closely spaced letdowns may have these feelings throughout the nursing period.
For more stories on D-MER, click the link. Also, here are some resources for those of who you experience this:
Opening the Door to Breastfeeding's Best-Kept Secret, from Breastfeeding.com
Is It Normal to Feel Like Crying When Breastfeeding?, from Babyzone.com
Photo credit: © Vladislav Gansovski – Fotolia
Wow, this is really interesting. I, without a doubt, had PPD but also experienced this and even remember commenting to my husband about it. I had no idea it is an actual medical condition. Thank you for posting this.
I have heard of this before as well. I happen to have good feelings only when I was feeding–interesting. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for all the info. I'm going to print it out for the therapist and the OB, neither of whom have ever heard of such a thing as I've described ("depression" at let down).
Thank you for validating my experience! I tell people about this phenomenom I experienced during letdowns (an appropriate term for the they way I felt right before and during my milk being released) and they look at me like I'm crazy. I, too, experienced postpartum depression/anxiety as well as this "nursing depression." I look forward to reading your links.
there are some woman's with our communities that suffering from that condition. I hope there are programs that could help them. thanks for this interesting article.
Moms with D-MER often experience a hollow feeling or emotional churning in the stomach, and a feeling of dread, guilt, anxiety or anger prior to letdown. They state that a key experience of D-MER is that the mom feels fine except right before her milk starts to flow, with the feeling lasting only as much as 2 minutes, though some moms with closely spaced letdowns may have these feelings throughout the nursing period.
Thank you so much for writing about this. I was absolutely crippled with D-MER, and had never heard of it. None of my doctors had ever heard of it. Thanks for putting this out there.
Glad you found us Lea! ~ Katherine