For Moms Who Feel Bad Before Breastfeeding, This May Be Why

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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:

Photo credit: © Vladislav Gansovski – Fotolia

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  1. 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.

  2. 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).

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.