I don’t often speak about it, but I really struggled with breastfeeding due to D-MER. Don’t know what D-MER is? Don’t worry, very few people do…
In short, breastfeeding made me want to curl up and die. Not because it was painful (although the first few weeks of engorged, hot boobs and cracked nipples were hell!) but because I suffered from D-MER. D-MER stands for dysphoric milk ejection reflex. It means that my hormones had gone haywire, and the hormone dopamine dropped way too low when I “let down” (when my milk started to come out).
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Instead of feeling all of those beautiful, loving and bonding emotions, I instantly felt like I had been hit by a truckload of depression. I don’t know why it happened to me, but I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager, so I assume my dopamine levels are already pretty low. This isn’t the usual anxiety that I’ve experienced before though, this was a whole other ball game.
When Charlie was born, it took me a few months of suffering in silence before I figured out what was going on. I hated every single feed, and I couldn’t figure out why. Chuck had a mild tongue tie, and I had flat nipples. So the start of our breastfeeding journey was VERY painful. It literally felt like there were razor blades in her mouth ripping my nipples to shreds.
In hospital my room was constantly filled with visitors and I was nervous to feed around them, so I was actually leaving Charlie in the room while I would go out to pump, and then coming back and feeding her the colostrum from a syringe. The times I did attach her to the breast, I would bawl my eyes out and clutch Nick’s hand as hard as I could to try and get me through the feed. The day we got home from hospital it was so bad that Nick physically pulled her away from my breast because he couldn’t bear to watch me in so much pain. We booked in with a lactation consultant, and she gasped when I pulled down my bra and she saw the state of my scabbed and weeping nipples. She suggested nipple shields, and after a few days the pain went away.
But my issues with breastfeeding did not…