Breastfeeding has always been fairly easy for me.  Sure I remember being in tears when Lane was a newborn and online chatting with whoever was awake on a la leche league forum on how to get him to stop screaming at the breast, but I got over that in a few days.   Sure I remember mastitis with him, and the occasional clogged duct with Margo, but again - nothing that would make me consider stopping before my kids were ready - except for D-MER.

D-MER (or Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex for the curious) is in short negative feelings when breastfeeding.  The mechanics of it are chemical, so they think.  The running theory is that dopamine in your brain must drop to allow for prolactin to rise.  Prolactin lets milk come down.  So basically, every time I have a "let down" of milk I feel like I'm about to have a full blown panic attack.  

Let me think of how to put this - have you ever felt like you were really going to cry, but the tears didn't come?  I haven't had that experience outside of this, so I can't even describe an event that might be similar...maybe a public speaking thing where you feel embarrassed but you can't cry because everyone's looking at you??  That still gives the illusion of mental control, as if you stop yourself from crying on purpose.  This is physical.

I emotionally want to bawl my eyes out but I physically can't.

D-MER puts me on the verge of losing my cool but won't let me jump over the edge, even if I intentionally try.  Sometimes as I'm putting Margo to bed, I think of the saddest things possible to try and make myself cry because if I could just dig into it, maybe I would feel better...the way that exercise sometimes feels easier when you give in to how hard it is.  But no.  Just before I fall off the mountain, the D-MER subsides and disappears.

The timeline goes: I put Margo to the breast, I relax into our feed, then I feel a bit of this fire sensation in my chest as my milk starts to let down, I begin to panic, I feel awful and horrible and the tears come, they are right behind my eyes, welling up and up and up, I feel so sad, so bad, so awful, I want to cry, can I cry?, please let me cry -  and then it all disappears.  The whole thing lasts about 3 horrible minutes.

When Margo was a newborn, a teacher at my birth center offered me rescue remedy for this.  I would take a few drops at the start of feeding and even though I still had a mini panic attack, it wasn't quite as severe.  Ah, those were the days, when my newborn and I would settle down for a feeding session and I had one free hand to drop some rescue remedy under my tongue and peek at her serene sleepy face quietly feeding.

Now, Margo's monkey feet try to kick my other arm and her hands are always pulling and exploring my nose and teeth and of course she wants to breastfeed IMMEDIATELY and - where's the damn rescue remedy??  Oh, Lane has hidden it in one of his many forts around the house.

I still plan to breastfeed Margo until we naturally wean.  Lane did that on his own around 14 months and I imagine she will as well, but this thing has been kicking my butt the last 6 months and I don't see it subsiding until I'm done. I mean - she just ate a whole cup of chicken today and she's only 6 months....so.....maybe it'll be sooner rather than later.....

On the positive side, I'm now acutely aware of how depression and anxiety can be an actual chemical reaction in your brain, completely unrelated to anything happening in the world right in front of you.  You can be triggered, sure, but it's also possible for it to be nothing more than brain chemistry.  Very wild.


Popular Posts