No matter how many parenting books you read or how-to videos you watch, nothing can truly prepare you for the first months of raising a brand-new child. For some, even the things they thought would come the most natural turn out to be the most difficult. This was the case for reality star and entrepreneur Lauren Conrad, who recently revealed that she struggled to breastfeed her son, Liam. She spoke about her breastfeeding challenges on a new episode of her podcast, Lauren Conrad: Asking for a Friend.
“I, like a lot of moms, thought breastfeeding would be the most natural, beautiful thing in the world, and that it would come really easily to me, and I would just kind of know what to do because that’s what my body is made to do,” Conrad, who recently announced she’s pregnant with her second child, said. “It was, without a doubt, the most difficult part of becoming a new mother.”
Conrad explained that her breast milk production started to slow down when Liam reached four months old, and that no matter what she tried — lactation cookies, teas, you name it — nothing seemed to boost her supply.
“I felt like I was failing at something that should come really naturally, and it was really difficult for me,” Conrad explained. “I felt ashamed, and it kind of made me feel like a bad mom.”
Conrad isn’t alone in her feelings of guilt. BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and BBC Radio Sheffield surveyed 1,162 women earlier this year and found that nearly half of all respondents struggled with breastfeeding. Many of the women reported feeling pressured to breastfeed, while others said they felt “ashamed” or guilty for feeding their children formula.
“You feel like you are giving them poison,” Amy Quick, one of the respondents, told BBC News. “You get told ‘breast is best,’ so when you can’t do it, it’s a bit of a hit to the system.”
The World Health Organization — along with the American Academy of Pediatrics — recommends that parents exclusively breastfeed for six months to reap all of the breastfeeding benefits for mom and baby. This recommendation can be challenging for some parents, who feel they have a low milk supply, have trouble getting babies to latch onto their nipples, or simply can’t — or don’t want to — breastfeed.
Luckily, there are resources, such as lactation consultants and pediatric doctors, that can help women figure out what is best for their situation. Not everyone is going to have the same breastfeeding experience, and that is 100% OK. Let’s repeat that for the skeptics: It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to use formula. All that matters is that your baby is fed and healthy.
By talking about her experiences on her podcast, Conrad is starting a meaningful conversation that tells other moms it’s normal to experience some breastfeeding challenges. The more we talk about everyday parenting worries, like breastfeeding, the more likely it is that parents will get the support and help they need.