Tuesday, February 15, 2011


This is fascinating. A mother noticed that every time she fed her baby, she felt sad, nearing on a panic attack, even.  Cut to some research and LC involvement and they've given the condition a name - D-MER, short for “Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex." 

I don't get sad or anxious when I breast feed (at least not now, those first 10 weeks, however . . .) but I DEFINITELY get agitated and angsty when I use the breast pump - and not just because of my pump frustrations, I don't think. It's always been a visceral reaction, sometimes more pronounced than others. I even remarked to Rob about it a time or two.

The theory - it's hormones:

Simply put: D-MER is physiological, not psychological. It is hormones, not past experience or repressed memories, that cause it.
We’re quite sure now that D-MER is linked to a drop in dopamine that seems to occur whenever milk is released. In a mother with D-MER at the time of letdown dopamine falls inappropriately, causing negative feelings. All of the suggestions made for treating D-MER are based on our belief that transiently inadequate dopamine is responsible.
Milk release itself isn’t caused by dopamine dropping; it’s caused by oxytocin rising. In D-MER, the MER (milk ejection reflex) is a result of rising oxytocin (needed to move the milk out of the breast) but the D (dysphoria) is a result of inappropriately falling dopamine. Dopamine gets involved because it inhibits prolactin (which is what makes the milk,) so dopamine levels need to drop for prolactin levels to rise in order to make more milk. Normally, dopamine drops properly and breastfeeding mothers never knew it even happened, in D-MER mothers however, it doesn’t drop properly and causes a negative emotional reaction.
Wait, you're telling me someone investigated a possible medical condition at work instead of just advising a lady that her silly lady mind stress is to blame? Crazy!

I hope this leads to more research into let-down problems. 

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