Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Global Citizen VAX LIVE
The actress opens up about her struggle to produce enough milk for her and John Mulaney’s 2-month-old son: “I felt like my body was failing.”
Low-supply moms instantly recognized the strange little yellow-capped bottle spouting thin tubes that Olivia Munn is holding in a recent photo she posted to Instagram. It’s known as an SNS, or supplemental nursing system, and it’s one of the last items in a long line of interventions that you turn to when your baby isn’t getting enough breast milk.
Munn lists them all in a catalog of her efforts: “two lactation consultants, lactation soups, three breastfeeding pillows, liters of coconut water, lactation teas, gummies, vitamins, cookies, nipple ointments, skin to skin contact, heating pads to increase circulation, three different breast pumps.”
She then models hanging the SNS bottle around her neck and using medical tape to stick the tubing to her (clothed) breast. Worn like this, the SNS allows a baby to pull milk from from both breast and bottle, continuing to stimulate the breast to produce more milk even after it has been emptied.
Some adoptive, surrogate, and low-supply moms enjoy the nursing experience that the SNS can offer. Others would rather not have a reminder of failure dangling from their neck and taped to their boob.
Munn is over it. “None of it worked!” she writes in the video. “I cried and cried. I felt like my body was failing. I worried I wouldn’t bond with my baby.”
“But then I said F*ck it.”
“Breastfeeding is good,” she writes over video of her happily nursing babe. “And so is formula,” read the captions over video of him drinking from a bottle with equal gusto.
There is no reliable data on how many people struggle with low milk supply. Nursing advocates are often quick to reassure new parents that “true” low supply is rare, but, as Munn and others will attest, when it happens to you, it is painfully real. We do know that there is a correlation between infertility, particularly PCOS, and low milk supply–and the CDC reports that up to 12% of women have PCOS.
It’s unclear from Munn’s post whether she intends to feed her baby a mix of breast milk and formula or switch to exclusive formula-feeding, and, guess what? It doesn’t matter. Munn, like all parents, is doing the very best she can to care for her tiny baby, who won’t remember exactly how he was fed as a newborn, but will always know that he was loved.
She ends her video with a message of support to low-supply moms, and everyone else: “Do whatever you need to feed your baby and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it.”