New moms share their nursing ordeals.
In the “Girls” series finale, Hannah’s baby has trouble latching. We hear from real women about their own nursing ordeals.
Hannah Horvath isn’t the first mom to struggle with breastfeeding.
In the “Girls” series finale, “Latching,” we see Lena Dunham’s character lose her mind because her newborn baby, Grover, won’t latch onto her nipple and take her milk. She feels like a bad mother whose baby hates her, and acts butt hurt (boob hurt?) as though he were just another guy rejecting her. And giving Grover a bottle of formula is viewed as a last-case scenario — giving up.
Kudos to “Girls” for depicting this incredibly trying aspect of motherhood. We’re often told that breast milk is best for the baby’s health, and that the act fosters a fundamental motherbaby bond that will serve the child for years to come, but no one prepares women for the basic logistical difficulties of the act, not to mention its physical and emotional toll.
We hear from real women on their struggles with breastfeeding and what they wish they had known before to prepare.
When you give birth to twins but can’t make enough milk for both mouths
“I physically couldn’t breastfeed. I produced some milk but not nearly enough for two babies. It was so disappointing because before you have a child, breastfeeding vs. formula is presented as this sort of choice of equal options, but the reality is that one is 500,000 times more difficult than the other and there’s not even a guarantee you can do it.
“We had to supplement with formula from day one because they were too small and I wasn’t making enough milk. I stopped breastfeeding at all around four months.”
When the baby latches but that’s not the end of your troubles
“My baby latched from Day One, but I would have to try a million times until he got the breast right. He has to have his mouth open and you have to bring him right over to your breast. I called the lactation nurse many times. Without her help I don’t think I would have made it. Funny thing, from watching movies, I thought nursing was so easy. Do you remember ‘The Blue Lagoon’? The baby just goes to Brooke Shield’s nipple and starts sucking. Well, it is not like that at all.”
When pumping at work is a logistical nightmare
“When I went back to work, that’s when the trouble started. For me, I was teaching at a university, so I would have back-to-back classes and I would have a break every three hours. I’d run to this room, which was like a converted dorm room designated for this, it was so disgusting in there. I would pump and then run back to my next class to teach, hoping there was nothing leaking. It’s the most infuriating process.”
When you can’t breastfeed because you have inverted nipples and your baby is tonguetied
“I read all the stuff on breastfeeding, but [my baby] wouldn’t latch. After a few days in the hospital, the pediatrician said, ‘Oh, he has a tongue-tie.’ Sometimes babies are born with the skin under their tongue more forward so their mouth can’t really open. Plus, I have inverted nipples. I pumped exclusively for five months. Eight times a day. I was like a Medela cow milking myself.
“The whole point of breastfeeding is that you’re supposed to have this amazing connection with your child. [Instead] I pumped, and my husband would feed him the bottle. I felt like my husband was his f—ing mother! And because you’re kind of crazy, you’re thinking, ‘Oh, my child doesn’t like me, and I’m doing all the work pumping eight times a day, my nipples are chafed, I can’t leave my house for long because I’m attached to this machine, so, it was just this depressing cycle. It wasn’t the experience I wanted.”