Kate Lawler has opened up about the reality of breastfeeding, revealing she is considering switching to bottle feeding her five-week-old daughter.
The 40-year-old new mum described feeling "guilty" after debating whether to stop breastfeeding her daughter, Noa, revealing it is like a "workout" which leaves her feeling "exhausted".
In a relatable post shared to Instagram, the radio host said she was weighing up the decision about switching to formula milk as breastfeeding seems to be taking a toll on both mother and baby.
Alongside an image of her in a dressing gown, Lawler began her post by asking other breastfeeding mothers how long they continued to nurse their babies.
Lawler then revealed she has been breastfeeding for just over five weeks but is considering stopping as it is so "demanding and my let-down is so fast I’m basically water boarding Noa every time she latches the poor little potato".
Although she appreciates that a "happy baby is a fed baby", Lawler says the pressure she has experienced from "healthcare professionals and others, along with my stubbornness makes me feel guilty about stopping".
She went on to say how time consuming she finds it and says it leaves her feeling "exhausted".
"It’s like a bloody workout," she continues. "No wonder you burn up to 500 calories per feed! Hats off to anyone who does this for longer."
Since sharing her emotional post, the former reality TV star was inundated with comments from followers praising her for doing the best she can, with many urging her to do what she feels is right for both her and her baby.
"You are doing so amazingly man," one follower reassured. "I lasted three weeks and switched to formula, and other than standing at the till feeling guilty for all of 60 seconds I never felt it again, as my boy changed overnight and so did my life. Each to their own always, but man it felt so good."
"The best thing for Noa is without a doubt a happy mum, ignore all opinions, pressures and guilt," another added. "And think to yourself would switching to formula improve my mental health. It’s simplifying a much more complex thing but really I think this is all it comes down to."
"Fed and happy is best. And that’s for both baby and mama," another agreed. "Do what’s best for you and your family - best piece of advice though is 'don’t quit on a bad day...' whatever you decide will be right for all of you."
Watch: Breastfeeding mothers with COVID 'do not pass virus to babies'
Lawler isn’t the first celebrity mum to open up about making the difficult decision about when to stop breastfeeding.
Hilary Duff was previously praised for opening about the difficulties she had breastfeeding as a working mother and making the decision to quit.
Sharing an image of her breastfeeding her then six-month-old daughter, Banks, the actor detailed what contributed to the decision to stop nursing in a lengthy accompanying caption.
Duff explained that she had been struggling to pump breast milk on the set of her TV show, Younger, and revealed that the stress of her milk supply dropping made her feel as though she “was going to break”.
Back in 2018, in an honest interview with Time, Serena Williams discussed her feelings on the difficult decision to stop breastfeeding, after being told by her male coach it would help improve her game.
The tennis star discussed her decision to nurse her daughter for her first eight months, despite believing it may have hindered her return to peak physical form.
But when she resumed her clay-court training in France, her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, suggested it could be time to stop breastfeeding. Advice, that Williams was unhappy with at first.
“It’s absolutely hard to take from a guy,” Williams told the publication.
Making the decision to stop breastfeeding
The decision about whether to breastfeed and when to stop if you do can be tricky for many mothers.
The NHS stresses it is up to you and your baby when you want to finish breastfeeding.
"It's recommended that you breastfeed your baby exclusively (give them breast milk only) for the first six months of their life," the site explains before going on to add that the World Health Organization recommends that all babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life, and from six months babies should start eating solid foods as well as being breastfed for up to two years or longer.
"There is no right or wrong way to stop breastfeeding," the NHS explains. "For lots of mothers and babies, stopping breastfeeding happens gradually as the child grows and eats more solid foods."
Alternatively you may find it easier to drop one feed at a time. "It does not matter which feed you drop first, so it will usually be a case of how it fits in with your life," the site explains. "For example, some mothers may prefer to continue night feeds so their baby can still have the comfort at night."
According to the NCT even if your baby is eating solids, breast milk or formula still has to be their main drink until they’re at least one year old.
"Whichever way you stop breastfeeding and whenever you do it, take it slowly," the site explains. "Stopping breastfeeding your baby gradually is important for your own comfort and wellbeing. It can also make the adjustment gentler for your baby."
The NCT adds that reducing breastfeeds too rapidly can lead to engorgement, which is when your breasts become overfull. It could also lead to mastitis, a painful infection of the mammary gland.
"As stopping breastfeeding can be an emotional time for you and your baby, taking your time can help make the transition easier for both of you," the site adds.
If you’re having breastfeeding problems, or you aren't sure whether to continue breastfeeding, there is support available. Contact the NCT Infant feeding support line on 0300 330 0700. Or the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 (every day, 9.30am to 9.30pm).