I first learned about D-MER from my amazing midwife after I gave birth to Nellie. With all of my other kids, I wasn’t ever able to breastfeed for very long because it gave me SO much anxiety! None of my previous doctors understood what I was going through and it was so frustrating to struggle for so long without any answers.
D-MER stands for Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. Basically what that means is when most moms have a letdown, their brain produces all the happy chemicals that make breastfeeding wonderful! But my brain does the exact opposite. I’ve always heard that breastfeeding creates such a strong bond with your baby, but for me it just caused so much dread. Every time my milk would letdown, it would make me feel like I was in fight or flight mode. I would immediately get a pit in my stomach and it literally was like nails on a chalkboard.
I honestly felt so guilty and like something was wrong with me when I couldn’t breastfeed my babies. Doctors tried to prescribe antidepressants for postpartum but I was so happy all the time – except for those few minutes while I was trying to breastfeed. I knew that wasn’t the solution so with each baby, I quickly switched to organic formula and tried to bond with them in other ways.
This approach actually worked so well for me! I would rock each baby and sing them songs, we would read books together, and I still enjoyed feeding each one in their own way. But I always watched other moms with a twinge of jealousy that they could breastfeed and I just couldn’t.
When I was pregnant with Wells, I assumed that I would bottle feed him just like my others until the formula shortage happened. Even though he wasn’t born yet, it really scared me to think about what might happen if I wouldn’t have access to formula at some point. So I decided that I would do my best to breastfeed through my D-MER symptoms.
Luckily I found a supportive Facebook group where other moms were struggling with the same symptoms but still powering through it for their babies. I started to have a more open mind about what I was capable of and promised myself that I would give it a go!
I’m happy to report that Wells is almost 9 months old and we have been exclusively breastfeeding since he was born! No formula, no bottles, just me and my boy ❤️ We have started slowly with baby-led weaning and so far he is loving the combination of that and nursing still!
For anyone else struggling with D-MER symptoms, I wanted to share what has worked so far for me:
- No caffeine (like none at all) this has made such a huge difference for me! Honestly, I’ll never go back to drinking caffeine now that I have been off it for so long.
- Being in the same place (a quiet rocking chair) without anyone else nearby. I know that sometimes during D-MER I’ll say things that I don’t mean, so eliminating that possibility makes it so that I don’t feel guilty for snapping at anyone when it’s just my anxiety talking
- Tapping (EFT) our body has multiple energy meridians where our emotions can sometimes get stuck. When I start to feel anxiety (at any time now) I will tap on my chest or forehead until it goes away. I’ve also done a lot of healing work using kinetic release so my body has been able to process some of those emotions for me proactively.
- Affirmations (for me and my babe) usually I say things like “you are doing such a good job” “I’m so proud of you” and encourage Wells to keep going. It helps me to know that I am doing this for him and we are in this together
- Mindset – sometimes when my D-MER is really bad, I just have to breathe and remind myself that this won’t last forever (meaning the letdown) but also that he is growing up so fast and I won’t ever have this time with him again!
After doing all of these things consistently, I’ve noticed that my D-MER symptoms haven’t been as bad with Wells as they were with my other kids! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to breastfeed for as long as I can and I’m also so happy to have the knowledge about D-MER to understand why I’ve felt this way for so long and that I’m not alone.
Huge shoutout and thank you to Madison Gray Photography for capturing these moments for us ❤️