“There should be no crisis”

Ciara, Ashley Graham, Jamie Chung, Rachel Bilson and other famous moms share their feeding journeys. (Photos: Getty)

Breast, bottle, whatever: How do you feed? is an unashamedly unabashed series about how babies eat.

There’s no doubt that fame comes with a ton of perks. But when it comes to feeding a baby and the challenges that come with it, celebrities are just like any other parent. They get blocked ducts and mastitis. They struggle with low milk supply or find breastfeeding to be “the hardest part of this mommy journey.” They worry about running out of the formula their child needs. They are harassed for traveling with breast milk and asked to breastfeed in public. They struggle to normalize breastfeeding or resist the stigma around using milk when breastfeeding doesn’t go according to plan.

Ahead of the release of How You Feed, Yahoo Life spoke with a number of celebrity moms about their own personal nutrition journeys — the good, the bad and the painful. Actress Rachel Bilson has opened up about her experience with extended breastfeeding and the critical responses she sometimes received when people found out she breastfed her daughter for nearly three years.

“There’s such a taboo about breastfeeding — like, ‘Oh my god, your kid was almost 3?’ He was like, ‘Yeah. And you know what? She was healthy, she was happy, and we were both sleeping better. It worked for us,'” Bilson shared. “I would definitely get that reaction sometimes where it’s like, ‘Oh my God, you’ve been breastfeeding that long?'”

The previous OC The star, whose daughter Briar Rose is now almost 8, noted that up until that point, the toddler “wasn’t feeding at my breast all day.” But nursing her daughter at bedtime was an important part of their nightly routine – “and we were both happier for it,” she added. Bilson added that her struggles with weaning — and the “absolute agony” of hearing her child cry for that nighttime feed — also contributed to her putting it off. Ultimately, she feels strongly that society needs to be more open-minded about the choices parents make about whether or not to breastfeed or for how long.

“It should be the woman’s choice and there should be no judgment,” she said.

Mom of two Lauren Conrad echoed that sentiment, telling Yahoo Life that when it comes to feeding, “everyone’s journey is so different.”

In Conrad’s case, that trip included nursing her two sons and then pumping when she returned to work. As her milk began to dwindle, the first Hills and Laguna Beach star started “filling in here and there” with formula.

“I did a combination of both, and that’s what worked for me,” Conrad shared. “It’s difficult, though. I think this is one of the fights that people aren’t really ready for, and I think there’s an odd amount of shame that shouldn’t be there. It’s such a personal choice and I think it’s important to support mothers as they want to do it.”

Supermodel Ashley Graham has also supplemented with formula since welcoming twin boys in January. While Graham, who also has a 2-year-old son with husband Justin Ervin, has long been a proponent of breastfeeding — “I can feed my kids whenever they’re hungry, because I’m there,” she told Yahoo Life. — meeting the demand of two hungry babies proved overwhelming.

“We do breast milk and we do formula,” shared Graham, who joined Bobbie Brand’s MotherBoard collective over the summer. “We do both because, as a human, I can’t keep up with two very wild babies.”

While feeding the twins has presented challenges, it has also given Graham some new mommy skills. As the model has shared on social media, she has mastered the art of feeding her boys at the same time.

“When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I didn’t know you could breastfeed two babies at the same time,” she admitted. “It took a while [to learn] … but once you figure it out, boom!”

Mum-of-three Ciara has also seen her relationship with breastfeeding evolve with each new child. Speaking to Yahoo Life, the singer noted that she was “at a different time in my life” for each experience. Older son Future, now 8, was breastfed until he was 4 months old — around the time Ciara and his father, rapper Future, ended their engagement and the “Goodies” singer had to dive back into work.

“When it was Future and I, I was doing it as a single mom, so for my four-month-old, my mindset was ‘let’s go,'” she said of the more streamlined experience.

Ciara married NFL quarterback Russell Wilson and the couple had daughter Sienna, now 5, in 2017.

“When Sienna was in my life, I was in a different place in my life,” he shared. “Life had blossomed a little more and I was with the love of my life and all that good stuff. And so when I had to finish breastfeeding Sienna, I was more emotional about it.”

The family’s baby, 2-year-old Win, was born in the summer of 2020, which meant his musician mom had more time to spend nursing.

“I breastfed him for 10 months, because the pandemic had me stuck at home and I was like You know what? I will go as far as I can. I’ll just challenge myself,” she told Yahoo Life. “And there were a lot of sleepless nights because you have to wake up, you have to pump, and then [feeding] the gaps change. … You’re literally like, It’s not something these women can’t do. This is like a beast, waking up every two hours, nursing your baby.

“I was really proud to be able to go to 10 months; that was definitely a huge achievement for me,” she added. “And it’s been a blessing to be able to do that with my babies. I also see it as a really sweet bonding opportunity. It’s a blessing and it’s a gift.”

But nursing isn’t for every parent. Never Joy actor and Ladygang Co-host Becca Tobin and her husband welcomed son Ford via surrogacy in February, she resisted pressure to try to breastfeed him herself through the process of induced lactation.

​”I had an interesting conversation with my mom of all people, who we joke should be the president of La Leche,” Tobin told Yahoo Life. “We had a tense conversation when she asked me if I would try to breastfeed. And I just said, ‘No, I don’t think so, it’s not for me.’ And women aren’t used to hearing other women say that because we’re programmed to witness . And we’re programmed to get through it, no matter what it is — physically, mentally, emotionally — for the greater good. And what I’ve found is that really, what’s best for your child is what’s best for the parents.”

Tobin explained that she was “really confident” about using formula to feed her son, though she noted that the ongoing milk shortages were “really heartbreaking and scary,” especially for those still struggling with the strain of the parenting pandemic. .

“We can’t catch a break,” he said.

The formula crisis hit close to home for Jamie Chung, whose twin boys were also born via surrogate. While the actress considered herself lucky to only be hit with shortages for a short time as her sons started solids, she found it “really upsetting” to see people hoarding cans of baby formula – with some selling them at a markup to desperate parents.

Chung also commented on suggestions that mothers who can’t find formula should “just breastfeed” — advice that doesn’t take into account the health needs or limited breastfeeding options for countless families, including her own.

“I read ‘just breastfeed.’ It’s not that easy,” he told Yahoo Life.

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