Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

MaryEllen Thompson

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Second Advisor

Leslie J. Hardman

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Third Advisor

Jennifer Hight

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy



Dysphoric milk ejection reflex is an idiopathic condition experienced by some breastfeeding women that is characterized by an abrupt experience of negative emotions or sensation prior to milk let-down. Many women struggle to make sense of the condition, and report barriers to communicating with others about their experiences and accessing support from healthcare providers. Dysphoric milk ejection reflex is often reported by women to impact self-efficacy and contribute to secondary psychological effects.

Research aim

Exploration of the experience of Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex. Investigation of the impact of diagnosis on the sense of wellness and self-efficacy of affected mothers.


A narrative research approach was utilized with data collected from a social media site in order to explore women's experiences of the condition, as well as how the virtual context was utilized to make sense of their experiences and seek support.


Recurring themes and patterns emerged from the data coding process, including raw description of experiences, metaemotion, and the impact of diagnosis and validation.


Women reported experiencing a wide variety of negative emotions and sensations, with many reporting long lasting negative psychological effects associated with striving to understand their experiences. Some participants reported that understanding of the condition reduced the long-term effects of striving to understand their experience. The rich narrative data can inform practice, highlights the effects of power imbalance in the client-provider relationship, and supports further research for education as a means of intervention.