What it’s like to live under breastfeeding conditions D-MER: “I feel desperation in my stomach”
Breastfeeding can be difficult, even in the best of circumstances. But some things can make the experience even more difficult for moms, including a little-known condition that can cause extreme sadness when breastfeeding is needed.
It’s called dysreflexia or D-MER, and many women – even those with the condition – are unaware of its existence. d-MER is not well-studied, not even among all medical professionals. known, but there are some case reports of it. One report states that D-MER is a mood “drop” that occurs in some women while breastfeeding, just before their milk is released. According to the report, it usually lasts only a few minutes at a time and can cause a range of feelings, from cravings to self-loathing.
If you have ever had unusual feelings about breastfeeding, then you may be infected with D-MER. here are the feelings of having this disorder, from women who have experienced or are dealing with it.
People just don’t get it.
Wendy Roche, a mother of three children ranging in age from 6 months to 14 years, told Yahoo Life that all three of her children have D-MER. the 44-year-old New York resident said, “When I first had it, I didn’t know what it was.” “The second time, I googled, ‘Why do I get homesick and sad when I’m pumping?’ That’s when I knew I wasn’t crazy – I had the D-MER.”
Roche says her situation is the “worst ever” for her youngest child. “Generally, I needed no one in the room, or at least no one to bother me, because the nausea would intensify” while nursing or pumping, she said. Pumping in the morning “wasn’t a problem,” Roche said, but “the sensations would get stronger as the day went on. I found myself dreading the timing of pumping and putting it off, but then it became stressful and I had to cheer.”
Roche says she “insisted” on pumping because of her child’s intolerance to milk. “Because of his issues and the specialty formula – the generic formula – which is hard to find and super expensive, I had no choice,” she said. Roche called D-MER a “vicious circle,” adding that “people just don’t understand.
Every time my baby breastfed, my stomach felt desperate.
North Carolina resident Justine Knight, who has a 4-month-old baby, told Yahoo Life that she discovered she may have D-MER about three weeks after her daughter was born, when she realized she had a pattern of feelings.
She says D-MER feels like “a bout of homesickness and loss of appetite,” adding that it’s hard to explain to people. “Every time my baby latches on, I get a desperate feeling in my stomach,” the 28-year-old says. Knight says the condition also affects how she feels about other things. “For example, if I’m having a D-MER attack while I’m talking, the subject of my conversation or the person I’m talking to will start to upset me,” she says. “It wasn’t until a minute later when I felt my lactation decrease that I realized it was the D-MER that was affecting my state of mind.”
Knight spoke with her OB/GYN and lactation consultant about her concerns that she might have D-MER; none of them had heard of it. “They both said there wasn’t much research and nothing they could do about it,” she says. So she discovered coping mechanisms, such as drinking ice water, watching TV shows to distract her, and eating her favorite chocolate when her milk drops. Her medical team “agreed that it was the best I could do,” she says. Knight says she also educated her loved ones on how to help her.
“I needed to say ‘D-MER’ to my husband and friends, who knew to keep the subject light and help me get through the next few minutes,” she said. “We avoided making any decisions to stop eating for a few minutes and acknowledge that the feeling was temporary.”
D-MER allowed my body to react the same way it does when it hears devastating news.
Virginia mom Annessa Germond told Yahoo Lifestyle that she noticed “intense symptoms” of D-MER after giving birth to her first child, but “didn’t know what was happening.
“I actually thought it might be the beginning of postpartum depression,” the 30-year-old said. “I’m a midwife and have never had a mother show symptoms like I did.”
Germond says D-MER “made my body react the same way it did when I heard the devastating news.” She continues, “I get a tightness in my chest, a lump in my stomach, I immediately start to tear up, and I get inexplicably sad. I always equated it to being told my husband had just died. That was it. It felt like every time I let my milk out.”
Gmund said she never received an official diagnosis from a health care provider until she was pregnant with her second child. She eventually found a D-MER support group on Facebook and says knowing that other women have had similar experiences made her symptoms more manageable. “I didn’t change anything, but I got support and didn’t feel crazy when it happened,” she says. “It happened every time I let my milk go, but I knew it would be over in 45 seconds.”
I would have a panic attack or homesickness would come over me.
Michelle Murphy, 36, told Yahoo Lifestyle that she had D-MER during her fourth pregnancy. “I believe I may have had it while nursing my first three children, but I didn’t realize it at the time or it may not have been as bad,” the Missouri mom said. With D-MER, Murphy says she would “have a feeling of ‘disappointment,’ and then I would have a panic attack or an incredible case of homesickness. It would last 30 seconds, maybe a minute, and then go away.”
Murphy says she found out what she was dealing with after Googling “disappointment followed by panic attack. And, although her OB/GYN had heard of D-MER before, Murphy says “she didn’t know much about it and really didn’t have any advice on what to do when it happened or how to stop it.”
Murphy says she doesn’t follow a specific treatment, but tries to distract herself until the feeling passes. “I would focus on my child,” she said. “Stroking his hair or smelling his scent. It helps to focus on other pleasant sensory experiences.”
I feel my skin squirm, like I need to get my son off me as soon as possible.
Catherine Rider, an Alabama resident, told Yahoo Life that nursing was difficult for her because her son has a tongue tie and other feeding issues. But she also struggles with D-MER. “Sometimes I feel like my skin is writhing, like I need to get my son off me as soon as possible,” she says. “Occasionally I get a strong urge to throw him across the room. I’ve never done that before, and they’re short, but worrisome.”
The 34-year-old also says her stomach feels like a roller coaster ride. “I often felt like I would vomit before he finished eating,” she says. “For the first few months, I would even get hives while he was eating. …… It happened every time while nursing and pumping.”
Murphy said she joined a local breastfeeding support group and had a lactation consultant who understood what Murphy was going through. “She was able to recommend other practitioners for me and my son who helped us and even learned about D-MER,” Murphy said. To make nursing more comfortable, Murphy says she tried taking magnesium, drinking cold water and doing breathing exercises. “What I found most helpful was to eat a piece of chocolate before nursing and breathing exercises,” she shares.
I would become irritable and feel very irritated.
Sade Simmons, 36, who has a newborn, began experiencing D-MER after her son was born. “I experienced wave after wave of intense negative emotions coming out of nowhere,” the Texas mom told Yahoo Lifestyle. “I would become irritable and feel very irritated. I would also feel extremely overwhelmed, stressed out and/or very anxious. At times, I would also feel strangely nostalgic.”
Simmons said she was diagnosed “after a particularly difficult all-night eating session and intense, persistent feelings of stress and anxiety. She Googled “anxiety + breastfeeding” and came up with some information about D-MER. “The more I read about it, the more it resonated with me,” she says. “I told my doula and lactation consultant about it, and they both knew about D-MER and confirmed my experience.”
Simmons says the breathing exercises have been helpful to her, “especially when eating late at night.” She also sometimes snacks or drinks soda to distract herself when her breast milk decreases. “I also find that reminding myself that what I’m feeling is temporary and doesn’t represent anything that’s currently happening in my life and that the wave will pass” can be helpful,” she says.