Getting it right: Birth & breastfeeding in Jane the Virgin

Monday, August 1, 2016

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

I've been bingeing on Netflix's Jane the Virgin lately. Have you seen it? My roommates and I watched lots of cheesy telenovelas in college so watching this is just like old times. It's full of drama and humor. And I love the main character! Here's the rundown: basically, Jane gets accidentally artificially inseminated by some guy's sperm when she was supposed to be only getting a pap smear! (reason #57 to skip the pap!) This guy turns out to be her new boss which she kissed 5 years ago, then she meets her dad for the first time, she falls in love with her baby daddy, breaks her fiance's heart...oh and there is a drug lord taking over the hotel she works at and's a true telenovela. point in writing this is that she is pregnant and has her baby in the first season and is raising a newborn in the second. The series perpetuates a few myths about birth and breastfeeding that I want to address!

1. Doulas. This subject is actually done okay. She learns about doulas from a "natural mom" at Target. Her family makes fun of the idea. But she considers how nice it would be to have someone there just for her, to guide her through the birth process. She doesn't end up hiring one.

2. Babywearing. I was just bothered by the "natural mom's" wrapping job. This mom gives Jane some advice (in a snotty tone that I didn't appreciate) about natural/modern parenting. And really? They couldn't have someone come on the show and teach this lady how to actually wrap? The baby is falling out of her wrap. Sigh.

3. Lactation class. Jane wants to go to a lactation class and her mom and Rafael laugh about it and "why would you need a class for that?" Uh. I had this same attitude! Sad. Anyway, she goes to the class with her mom and the teacher gives some good advice untilllll she tells her to lean over the baby so it doesn't choke on her milk. Um, what? That makes no sense. The opposite is actually true. Leaning over your baby is just going to give you a backache. Leaning back, however, allows baby to latch easier and slows down your milk so your baby doesn't choke/struggle with a heavy flow of milk.

Lactation class round 2. Shortly after Mateo is born, she is having some struggles breastfeeding and they go back to the lactation class. She tells the lactation specialist that she is struggling and in a room full of other moms, the lactation specialist asks to see her nipple. In real life, the lactation specialist would have given her privacy and one-on-one attention for her specific issue. However, after this visit, she says the latch is improved. So, props for lactation professionals!

4. Birth. I thought this was actually done pretty well. Jane's birth experience really resonated with me and my experience giving birth to Riah. Lots of "I can't do it" with deep breathing. Thank goodness the "hee-hoo-hee-hoo" breathing of the past is gone! Of course, it's made super dramatic as her labor starts suddenly on the bus while in traffic, yada yada.

4. Asking for help. Loved how Jane accepts help from her mom and her mom dives in.

4. Scheduled feeds. Jane is an organized person and they make a big deal out of Mateo eating every 3 hours. Scheduled feeds are actually connected with slower weight gain and early weaning. Letting baby set his own pattern and feeding on his cues is the recommendation for successful breastfeeding. That is, as long as baby is eating 8-12 or more times in a 24-hour.

5. Cluster feeding. Newborn Mateo is feeding every half an hour and all the women in the house are perplexed. Jane is frustrated and doubting herself. Rafael enters the room and proclaims that Mateo is probably cluster feeding to encourage her milk to come in. "I read it in the book," he says. Go dad! Happy to see a dad supportive in word and deed of breastfeeding. The next scene is great when her mature milk comes in and leaks through her shirt. She dances back to her baby. Cute moment.

6. Pumping and dumping while drinking. Jane goes out to a club with her friend Lina for Lina's 25th birthday and she brings along her pump. Love that they normalize pumping and the need to express milk when away from baby. There was cute moment between Jane and Lina sitting on the bathroom floor while Jane was pumping. However, she proclaims that she will be "pumping and dumping" so she can drink with her friend. This actually isn't always necessary. Since alcohol (and anything else the mother ingests) goes through our digestive system BEFORE affecting our milk, she would not have needed to dump the milk she pumped at the club. Depending on how much she drank, she would only need to avoid nursing for a few hours after her last drink. The usual recommendation is that if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to drink. Kellymom has more about this.

7. "He's weaned off of me!" Jane goes to an overnight writer's retreat and Rafael keeps the baby. She forgets the pump cord and Rafael comes by to drop it off. Since Mateo is hungry when they get there, she decides to feed him instead of pump. But Mateo will not latch after almost an hour of trying. In frustration, they give him a bottle and he drinks hungrily. She is noticeably upset that he couldn't latch after only being away from her for several hours. Instead of working on getting baby back to breast with a lactation professional, she pumps exclusively for several months. By pumping every 3 hours (night and day) Jane becomes a slave to the pump and it literally runs her into the ground. Exclusive pumping moms are awesome. But I wish the show would have taken the opportunity to show the benefit of lactation support. Which would have made total sense because Jane had already benefited from lactation support before. After several months of pumping, she and Rafael decide it's okay for her to stop pumping. She is very relieved. I wish they could have ended this subject on a better note but it was nice to see a mom and dad making such a tough decision together.

What do you like or dislike about Jane the Virgin? I could do without some of the characters (Louisa!) and naughty stuff!


  1. I agree with all of your assessments! And I just love that show.


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