A Condition Called D-MER: When Breastfeeding Makes You Feel Sad

When I talk of breastfeeding and sadness, the conversation always leans towards postpartum depression.  But there is something else that can cause sadness during breastfeeding that is completely unrelated to postpartum depression

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**Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

The way D-MER was described to me is that it’s a chemical imbalance that’s triggered with the let-down reflex.

[Here is the actual Wikipedia definition.]

Different women feel it different ways and at different levels of intensity.  Dysphoric means negative feelings so the feelings range from depressed to angry.  Some women describe it as a “homesick” feeling in the pit of the stomach.

FOR ME, IT FELT LIKE AN ANXIETY ATTACK.  My insides felt as though they were twisting and bubbling and my heart started racing.  I would get a tingling pins and needles sensation all over my upper body and arms.  There was this overwhelming feeling of “dread” as if something terrible was about to happen.  Like that feeling you get when you wake up late for work, or if you’ve done something wrong and feel scared someone is going to find out.

The feeling only lasted for the first few minutes after a let down reflex but it happened every single time I had a let down reflex… every single time I breastfed.
I talk more about that awesome Public Health Nurse in this post!

And while I came to anticipate them each time I breastfed or pumped milk, I didn’t associate these negative feelings with the let down reflex – I just assumed they came at random times.  Naturally, I classified them as some sort of postpartum depression symptom since I suffered with PPD and the baby blues with my first two children.

It wasn’t until I mentioned the strange sensation to my public health nurse shortly after the birth of my third child that she suggested it might be D-MER.  After some research on it, I knew instantly it was what I had, especially since I had zero symptoms of a postpartum mood disorder this time around.

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Breastfeeding my third child was much easier after knowing exactly the cause of these strange feelings.  I learned to breathe through the anxiety attacks and wait for them to be over – similar to breathing through labour contractions.  The confusion, the guilt, the shame and the stress were all gone because now I knew that it was simply a reflex, and not a psychological problem.

I wish I had known about this condition when I first started breastfeeding.  I didn’t say anything about it to anyone because I thought it was just another symptom of postpartum depression and there are so many reasons why mothers don’t speak up about having postpartum depression.  

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Of course, for some women the sensations are so severe that awareness alone is not a solution.  There are different treatment options available.  Natural treatments include Rhodiola Supplements, Vitamin B12, Placenta Encapsulation & Acupuncture.  Prescription treatments are also available.

www.D-MER.org has tons of information, resources and treatment options and should be your first stop for info on this fairly new & unknown condition.

Click here join their official Facebook group: Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) Support Group from d-mer.org



The Revised and Updated 8th Edition of the The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League International) has a section on D-MER.

Fox News recently shared this article – DMER: the scary breast-feeding condition you’ve never heard of

Birth Without Fear shared a post on D-MER in 2013: D-MER {No, You are Not Crazy}

Read this first hand account about D-MER on The Badass Breastfeeder

The Naughty Mommy writes about her struggle with The Breastfeeding Blues a.k.a. D-MER