Breastfeeding made me sad

Breastfeeding made me sad

Nobody ever told me about Dysmorphic Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER). When I stopped breastfeeding, I forgot all about it.

It's easy to forget. The feeling was so fleeting. But each and every time I nursed my babies, within the first few minutes of them latching on I was hit by a powerful wave of sadness. It was as if my babies were pulling a long ribbon of sorrow out of me through my breasts.

It felt almost like being homesick. The sadness was there for the briefest of moments, just hovering on the edge of my consciousness, and then -- poof -- it was gone.

I wrote a about it in a comment on a post about formula feeding, half hoping someone would see my comment and say they experienced this too. Someone would surely say I was not alone. No one did.

But later, thankfully, another our site blogger told me she had also experienced this feeling of sadness upon breastfeeding.

Later still, I happened to be browsing over at Motherhood Uncensored and learned that not only was I not alone, there's an actual name for this bizarre mood swing. It's called Dysmorphic Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) and you can learn all about this treatable disorder at the website,

Some of the most important things the website reveals, include it's caused by hormones, it's not a psychological response to breastfeeding, it's not PPD, and it is not the same thing as breastfeeding aversion.

Instead, the sadness is linked to an extreme drop in the hormone dopamine that occurs at the time of letdown. It's a reflex -- dopamine drops, allowing prolactin and oxytocin to rise, triggering the milk to release. Somewhere in between during this hormone-driven pendulum there is this moment of profound sadness and negativity. The D-MER can occur during pumping as well.

Breastfeeding came easy to me. When it came to milk production, I was a certified Dairy Queen. But that didn't make me love it. I remember finding it annoying after the 6-month point. I got agitated, irritable, even resentful when I nursed. I nursed both my daughters for over a year, but had expected to do it for at least two. Now I'm wondering if the D-MER had something to do with this. Maybe, maybe not.

Why all women don't experience D-MER is unclear. What's important is we're talking about it now.

It feels wrong -- disappointing and confusing -- to feel sad when feeding your beautiful babies. Depending on the severity, simply knowing what's causing the feelings, and knowing you are not alone, can help to manage it.

Anyone else experienced this? Did it concern you? Do you think it affected your decision to continue, or stop, breastfeeding?

Images by iStock

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

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