Breastfeeding Made This Mom Hate Herself Thanks to This Little-Known Condition


Two Kids Raising Kids

Anybody who says that breastfeeding is a breeze is most likely not telling the complete truth. From problems latching to cracked and bleeding nipples to bouts of painful mastitis, there are many difficult aspects that nursing moms persevere through. However, one mom wants people to know that even if they think they had it bad, their experience was most likely nothing compared to hers. 

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"To be blunt, breastfeeding made me want to curl up and die," Teagan Gambin-Johnson wrote on her blog, Two Kids Raising Kids. "Not because it was painful (although the first few weeks of engorged, hot boobs and cracked nipples were hell!) but because I suffered with D-MER." 


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Dysphoric milk ejection reflex (D-MER) impacts how a lactating woman feels before and after she breastfeeds. According to D-MER.org, it's characterized by sudden and overwhelming negative emotions like sadness or anxiety that occur right before the milk releases and continues for minutes after it stops. "D-MER is like a reflex. It is controlled by hormones and cannot be controlled by the mother," the website states. "She cannot talk herself out of the [depression]."

Teagan described her understanding of what was happening in her body as she tried to nurse her baby girl, Charlie. "My hormones had gone haywire, and the hormone dopamine dropped way too low when I 'let down' (when my milk started to come out)," she wrote. "Instead of feeling all of those beautiful, loving and bonding emotions, I instantly felt like I had been hit by a truckload of depression."


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More from CafeMom: Mom Shares Tragic Warning After Breastfed Newborn Dies of Starvation

Teagan suffered in silence for a few months while secretly wondering what was wrong with her and why she was dealing with such extreme emotions only while nursing:

"I hated every single feed, and I couldn't figure out why…

I noticed it most when I was up in the middle of the night feeding Charlie. In the dark with Nick asleep next to me, I felt so alone. I would hear Charlie start to wake, and I would begin to panic. Eventually she would be crying out in hunger.

By this point I would already be shaking with anxiety. Charlie would latch, and after a few sucks my milk would let down. And then it would hit me like a ton of bricks. All I would feel was doom. Like the most grief I've ever felt in my life, but grief for what -- I don't know? I would rush the feed, and not long after Charlie finished and settled I would be feeling okay again. Until the thoughts of guilt would creep in and keep me up at night." 

Teagan finally opened up about the torment she felt and her stepmom came across information about D-MER after searching online. "It was somewhat comforting knowing that I wasn't going mental," she wrote. "I breastfed Charlie for a few more months, but eventually the anxiety got to me so badly that my milk dried up." Teagan was unfortunate enough to suffer D-MER again while breastfeeding her second child, Cooper. Though the D-MER.org website suggests that some women can manage the condition through diet, exercise, and medication, Teagan only found relief when she stopped breastfeeding.


Two Kids Raising Kids

For Teagan, D-MER hit at different levels and would be especially severe if she was already tired, anxious, or stressed because she was in public or alone with the kids. "The anxiety and depression that came with D-MER affected every single aspect of my life," she wrote. "I got nervous leading up to a feed, and felt exhausted and irritated afterwards. I was snappy. I didn't like to be touched. I was nauseous and struggled to eat. My patience with Charlie and Nick was worn thin. And I was constantly pretending like I was okay, when I wasn't." 


Two Kids Raising Kids

More from CafeMom: Why This Mom Doesn't Think It's 'Lucky' That She's Still Breastfeeding

Teagan didn't end up breastfeeding Cooper for as long as she nursed Charlie for, and it's something that she still feels guilty about even though she knows it was the right decision for her family. "I can't help but wish my body worked differently, and wonder what it would have been like to find breastfeeding easy, or even just struggle with 'normal' breastfeeding issues," she wrote.


Two Kids Raising Kids

Instead of staying quiet about her pain, Teagan is speaking out so that people start to understand the rare condition she suffered from. "Not many people, even doctors, know what I'm talking about when I mention it. The moms at play group can't relate. I get a lot of blank stares or 'oh that sucks' in reply. I feel very alone," she wrote. "This is why I want to talk about it as much as I can, with as many people I can. I can't even imagine the number of women who suffer alone and never get an answer. I have a feeling that D-MER isn't as uncommon as we think."

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