‘For around 30 seconds at the start of breastfeeding my son, I really wanted to die’

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The Telegraph – 20 April 2015 – ‘For around 30 seconds at the start of breastfeeding my son, I really wanted to die’

As Rebecca Maberly’s newborn baby latched on to her breast for a feed she was engulfed by a sudden wave of despair. “I felt suicidal, and so hostile towards my baby that I wanted to throw him across the room,” she recalls. It may sound like a symptom of post-natal depression, but Rebecca was suffering from a recently discovered physiological syndrome called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER). D-MER is thought to be caused by a sudden drop in the “feel-good” hormone dopamine, which pre-empts the release of breast milk. This leads to strong negative emotions and lasts for as long as milk let-down continues – usually between 30 to 90 seconds.

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a neurophysiologist at Nightingale Hospital in London, explains: “Dopamine is a hormone that releases endorphins and pushes ‘feel good’ chemicals around the brain. A sudden dip causes feelings of sadness.”0

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