I estimate that I've had over 2,000 nursing sessions with Ada in her almost 10 months. In the first few minutes of the vast majority, I've had this sad, sinking feeling. Emptiness. Hopelessness. For 30 seconds to a minute or so, and then back to normal again.
I've said to Stephen on numerous occasions: "I feel so . . . depressed right now."
For a while, I thought maybe I was suffering from PPD. That during the quiet moments when we nursed, I was able to recognize it in the stillness. After all, most of the literature I've read about breastfeeding describes a beautiful, euphoric feeling brought on by oxcytocin. However, when I'm not nursing, I haven't felt upset otherwise. (At least most of the time. This year has had its ups and downs for sure.)
So, life rolled on. Since the feeling is relatively fleeting, I didn't give it too much thought. I always suspected it may have been from dehydration. Somehow, I always felt worse when I hadn't had much water. I'll get back to that later.
Yesterday I had a particularly low moment during letdown in her mid-afternoon feeding. I was in such a good mood -- so the sudden drop almost startled to me. Later, I had some time on my hands, so I decided to Google it. I searched: "sad while breastfeeding" -- immediately, I discovered I'm not alone.
This thing I've been experiencing is, well, a REAL THING.
- Breastfeeding Made Me Sad
- Breastfeeding Disorder Gives New Meaning To “Letdown”
- Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex -- Wikipedia
- Sadness While Breastfeeding: It's a Real Medical Condition
- D-MER Blog
- Negative Emotions Upon Milk Let-Down -- Kelly Mom
Here's some more information from that site about the characteristics:
- The dysphoria a mother feels comes on suddenly before letdown and leaves within 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
- She feels the dysphoria before she feels the letdown sensation in her breasts (though not all mothers feel a physical letdown sensation).
- Often by the end of the first letdown she feels fine again, the dysphoria is gone.
- She may or may not have dysphoria with letdowns when pumping and before spontaneous letdowns, this also is dependent of the intensity of her D-MER.
- Much more information can be found on the official D-MER.org site.
There are various degrees to which women experience the disorder. And there are various ways to manage it, if necessary -- anything ranging from lifestyle changes to prescription drugs, etc.
I would say my own D-MER is on the mild side. The site explains that some women are just helped by knowing what is happening. I would say it has already improved my experience quite a bit. In addition, watching for other things, like dehydration or stress, that seem to exacerbate symptoms is helpful. I notice a h.u.g.e difference now when I am hydrated adequately.
Of course, now I am curious. Have you heard of D-MER? Have you experienced it or know anyone who has? I'd love your thoughts!
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