Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex

dysphoric milk ejection reflex

Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex, or D-MER, is this really crap-tastic feeling you get right before you get a let-down of milk when breastfeeding or pumping.

Are you having negative feelings that come out of nowhere during that time worn-out mama? Check out the symptoms below and know that you aren’t alone.

What is Milk Ejection Reflex?

Milk Ejection Reflex, or what you may have heard been called “let-down”, is the point where

  • nerves in your breast are triggered
  • a release of hormones happens in your body
  • prolactin signals the milk production (also released when you orgasm)
  • oxytocin works on the mechanics to push the milk and widen the ducts to help it come out (also released when you orgasm)

Some women intimately feel all of these things happening when being triggered by a breastfeeding baby or a pump engaging the breast. Some women feel none of the workings of what’s going on and things just work their course. Both women are normal!!

dysphoric milk ejection reflex

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What is Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex?

Dysphoric Milk Ejection is the name given to this completely terrible feeling experienced during the process before milk is ready for the pump or your baby.

  • anxiety
  • sense of dread
  • feeling on the edge
  • total sadness
  • pit in the stomach

Everyone is different but the feelings are going to be negative in nature.

For me, I would have this extreme sense that something bad was happening or about to happen when I went to pump at work. It could be like I drank 10 cups of coffee and was overly anxious and uneasy.

I attached the pump at work and started it going every day, feeling completely in despair over nothing outwardly being wrong.

Why does Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex happen?

Getting on my soap box about all things women related that don’t end with a man being inconvenienced, there isn’t a lot of research or study. I’m not a male-basher but don’t get me started on the whole blue pill support vs a program for monitoring hormones after birth for moms!

As far as Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex, people are looking into dopamine levels and how that may play a part in these overwhelming feelings for some women before their let-down.

dysphoric milk ejection reflex

If you want the super sciency text version to geek out on, head over to the Endocrine Society and check out their study Baby Love? Oxytocin-Dopamine Interactions in Mother-Infant Bonding. You’ll learn about how rats were seen as being more “motherly” towards their babies with the release of oxytocin and dopamine.

dysphoric milk ejection reflex

Maybe you are into a more narrative version of the discussion about dopamine. Head to the La Leche League International for an interview about the condition. The section “What did Your Investigations Reveal ?” has what you need!

What can I do to get help?

Talk to someone! Tell your partner what’s going on with you. Join a support group on Facebook like Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) Support Group from d-mer.org.

Try to increase your dopamine levels to see if it helps. University Health News Daily has some great and easy recommendations and here are some highlights:

  • eat bananas, almonds, apples, watermelons, cherries, yogurt, beans, eggs and meats
  • decrease caffeine and sugar
  • increase magnesium intake (check out the supplement Natural Vitality Calm mentioned in Postpartum Anxiety)
  • get regular exercise and decrease stress as much as possible
  • get enough sleep (so easy with a breastfeeding baby!)
dysphoric milk ejection reflex

Take a look at the information and resources available at D-Mer.org. There’s a book, a slideshow presentation and case studies over what actual mom’s experienced.

Know that you aren’t alone and there’s no shame in sharing how you are feeling!

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