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Does breastfeeding cause you anxiety? - It may be the unknown D-MER

Does breastfeeding cause you anxiety? - It may be the unknown D-MER

Does a darkness fall as you breastfeed? Do you feel anxiety? Are you depressed or feeling down?

You may have been affected by dysphoric milk ejection reflex (D-MER), which is a relatively unknown concept even in healthcare. The term comes from the United States (coined by the breastfeeding adviser and doula Alia Macrina Heise) and is a term for a kind of nursing anxiety.

Milk ejection reflexes are simply the physical reflex that causes milk to "expel" from a woman's breast, for example, when a baby tries to breastfeed. D-MER is a kind of mini-push connected to the output reflex. There is no scientific evidence for exactly what is happening. The initial theory states that the temporary depression is due to a sudden shedding of the hormone dopamine, but many researchers and doctors oppose that theory.

It is also unknown how many people are affected by this, but it is estimated to be a large amount.

Whatever the exact physiological reason, it is a well-documented phenomenon. Nursing mothers affected by D-MER feel strong, negative feelings just after breastfeeding has started and this usually lasts for a few minutes, about 3-5 minutes. It is very different from baby blues or postpartum depression, the anxiety and dysfunction only occur during breastfeeding, the rest of the time the mothers feel great. Even though the mood does not last for a long time, the darkness can get pretty strong - some mothers get suicidal or have thoughts of self-harm.

Symptoms may be:

  • Anxiety

  • Fear

  • Nervousness

  • A sense of emptiness

  • Sorrow

  • Uneasiness

  • Hopelessness

  • Irritation

There is no cure for D-MER. Some anecdotal data says that high caffeine intake, fluid shortage and stress increase the symptoms. But just knowing that the syndrome exists can help, so we want to write about it at Najell. If you think you are suffering from D-MER, seek medical attention and consult with healthcare professionals.

Here you can read more about D-MER.

And here you can read more about general breast-feeding problems and what you can do to prevent them.