Breastfeeding may be natural, but that does not mean it is always easy. While every mother’s breastfeeding journey looks different, I think it’s safe to say that every mama experiences all the highs and the lows which brings on a wide range of emotions that you need to overcome. Let’s discuss How To Deal With Breastfeeding Emotions..
Now maybe you’re the mama that has had the best breastfeeding journey you could imagine – no latching or supply issues, no nipple/breast complications or pain etc. That’s amazing! But add in all of the other parenting obstacles; like sleep, newborn care, self-care, house chores, relationship with your partner. The list goes on and on. Just trying to juggle everything at once can emotionally put a damper on you & your breastfeeding experience.
Even when you least expect it, there are so many changes throughout this motherhood journey which can turn you into a big ball of emotions. According to the CDC, about 60% of mothers end their breastfeeding journey early and do not breastfeed for as long as they had originally planned on. This very reason alone impacts a mother’s mental health and puts them at an increased risk for postpartum depression (PPD) and/or postpartum anxiety (PPA). Breastfeeding guilt and mothers feeling shamed is a REAL issue that needs to be addressed – and society needs to do better.
Have you heard about the D-MER Phenomenon?
There are mothers who experience some feelings of aversion while they are breastfeeding which are completely out of their control. Some describe it as a feeling of being worthless, hopeless, strong negative feelings in their body, and having a “strong feeling of get away from me”. But as soon as their breastfeeding session ends and baby is full, those negative feelings go away magically! This is called the D-MER or Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. This D-MER phenomenon is thought to be from the high levels of oxytocin and the abrupt drop in dopamine that is occurring while your body is triggered to release breast milk. Women go into motherhood planning on having this great positive breastfeeding experience and then are all of a sudden dealing with psychological and physiological challenges which, of course, can cause their breastfeeding journey to end early. If you feel like this could be you or another mama you know – please reach out, seek help & support, and know you are not alone!
What are some examples of scenarios that can stir up these emotions?
*These are just a few common stories us mama coaches hear from parents*
· Mamas who choose to wean their baby after an X amount of time & worry about bonding with their little one & how it’s going to affect it.
· Mamas who did not have any plans to use bottles, pumping, and/or formula or think about supplementation.
· Mamas who experienced pain and latching challenges right out of the gate so their first experience is not such a pretty one.
· Experiencing feeding challenges due to oral restrictions (ties), diagnosed and undiagnosed.
· Mamas with a false perception of undersupply when their supply is actually regulating based on baby’s needs.
· Mamas who had an oversupply then try to fix that with block feeding etc. and the pendulum swings the other way and they now have an undersupply.
· Mamas being concerned with weights, nutrition, “am I making enough milk”, growth chart pressure from Healthcare Providers.
· Mother’s concerns with medications while breastfeeding.
· Lack of support from family, friends, and/or workplace.
· Moms stuck between wanting to exclusively breastfeed but haven’t slept in x amount of time & sleep deprived.
Advice From a Mama Coach –
I am sure you have heard this before- but truly take it day by day, minute by minute, & hour by hour. Set up your breastfeeding area (Here are some hacks). Do not time feeds! Do the Mama Coach “Dinner then Dessert” method. Read your baby’s cues and don’t forget to read your own body and emotions. Lean on your support system if you have one. Join mama groups in your community, you will be surprised to know that you’re NOT alone & there are so many other mamas in your area who can relate. Be cautious taking unsolicited advice- go with your mama gut & reach out to a trained lactation specialist. Take a deep breath throughout each day. Try to do 1 self-care thing for yourself per day- it can be anything! Drink that venti tea/latte, read that book you’ve been trying to read- even if it’s a couple pages. Just getting your mind off of the same routine cyclical mom life and allow yourself to have a guilt free mama reset!
Us Mama Coaches always say that a fed baby & a happy mama is best. We truly want to help you with your feeding journey so that you are able to continue to feed your baby according to YOUR goals. If you are finding that you’re mentally and physically struggling to breastfeed please reach out to a Mama Coach in your area. We are trained to extensively assess the whole picture of both mom and baby(s). You never know-it may be a simple solution and adjustment that is needed to get you back to successfully breastfeeding your baby comfortably (if that is your goal)! If after you seek assistance & come to the conclusion that you are set on choosing another feeding option- then go for it. What is best for you, is best for baby. Even if you breastfed for 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, or 1 year… Your feeding journey does not define you as a parent & you are NOT a failure. Please, if you’re ever struggling with anything feeding/parenting related – reach out to a Mama Coach today. Motherhood truly takes a village & we would love to become a part of your “village”.
You got this mama!