I thought I would share some important information I discovered about nursing. Finding it changed my life.
The other day I popped over to Pumproom Confessions and saw a button on the sidebar that said “Breastfeeding shouldn’t be a downer.” As I am ever interested in the world of nursing, and an advocate for breastfeeding, I clicked on it. It led me to a website for Dysphroic Milk Ejection Reflex. Suddenly I was reading account after account from women who experienced the same thing I do when nursing.
I love to nurse, the closeness is amazing, the health benefits for myself and my baby are incredible, and I believe it is the best thing for myself and my baby. I breastfed my daughter successfully and without any difficulty until she was 18 months old. Therefore, I found it a bit dismaying that each time I sat down to nurse my son I would suddenly be overcome with a deep wave of despair. It would punch me right in the stomach and sit there for a minute to two, then it would go away. I told myself it was mild post partum depression. I told myself it was a reaction to finally sitting down and not distracting myself from my grief over a departed friend. I didn’t connect it with my milk letting down. I didn’t connect it with nursing at all, even though it happened every time I sat down to do it. I just figured it was something else. I never knew it was a documented condition that afflicted other moms as well.
I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me that I am a) not alone, b) not insane c) not imagining it. I feel so much better simply knowing that there is a physical reason for those moments of despair, and that there are people researching it to see if there is something that can be done. Clearly some wire in my brain is crossed. Evolutionarily it makes sense to have pleasurable emotions released when your milk lets down, not despairing ones.
If you are a nursing mother, and you feel inexplicably sad, anxious, angry, or depressed for short intense periods while nursing, check out the website on D-MER. Breastfeeding is challenging enough without having to battle intense and nebulous emotional demons along with it. I feel so much better simply knowing more about the problem, and I would bet you will too.
If anyone reading this feels this way and wants to talk about their experience, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no reason to keep silent about it anymore.