April 30, 2014

When Breastfeeding Makes You Sad (D-MER)

Can I be honest for a second?
I don't like breastfeeding.
I mean, I do it, I support it, I encourage others to do it...but I don't enjoy it.

With Noelle I wanted badly to breastfeed. She was born early and with jaundice and was a very, very sleepy newborn. She never latched on, or sucked, causing my milk to not come in fast enough. I exclusively pumped every 2 hours, producing never enough, for a month before throwing in the towel, exhausted, guilty, sad, and discouraged.

Halle latched on from the second she was born. She latched on and in some ways never got off. She is a champion eater, feasting away every 2-3 hours, gaining weight like a professional. It was literally effortless this time around and I have ample supply. So you ask, why wouldn't I enjoy it?

This may sound strange, because it is, but I noticed each time I was breastfeeding, I would feel these feelings of depression, emptiness, home sickness, and a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach that can't be explained in words. I assumed I was getting a little postpartum depression and shrug it off. Then I realized I only felt this way while breastfeeding and I also recognized that I was getting feelings of resentment towards breastfeeding. This was odd to me, because all I wanted and strived for was to breastfeed my baby.

Although I didn't think I would find anything, one night I googled "breastfeeding depression" and found much more than I thought. Not only was my "condition" real, but many, many mothers feel this way too! Whew. I was so, so happy I wasn't the only one. What I found out was that I'm experiencing D-MER (dysphoric milk ejection reflux), which in short is a when a mother gets an abrupt feeling of negative emotions including anxiety, depression, even agitation and anger just before milk releases. It is a physiological response that is caused by the decrease in dopamine chemicals in the brain when milk lets down. Only a small percentage of women experience this while lactating.

While it's a relief to know that I'm not crazy, it's a bummer that this is happening. It hasn't stopped me or motivated me to quit breastfeeding though. I am aiming to breastfeed for a year. When D-MER strikes, I acknowledge it, breathe through it, and try to think about other things. It's a little disappointing that I don't like breastfeeding because other people have always made it look and sound like such a beautiful thing...such a bonding experience for the mother and baby, and such a peaceful, natural act. For me, I just think about my to-do list until the feelings subside. I look at Halle and try to concentrate on how beautiful and healthy she looks, and wait for it to end. I love that I am solely feeding my baby, and I love seeing her fat rolls and know that she's getting the nutrition that she needs, but really, that's it. It's not a moment I love, and I don't cherish it, or look forward to it. And it's okay. I've accepted that it is what it is, and as long as I can push my way through it, then great.

Sometimes you don't get what you expect, but it's alright. Keep calm and latch on!

More resources on D-MER:
Kellymom.com - Great resource on all things breastfeeding
D-MER (No You Are Not Crazy)

Another related article:
Postpartum Dark Days

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! I am experiencing it also. I'm glad we're not alone. Keep going! :)


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