EMMA Willis has recalled the traumatic moment she rushed her eldest daughter Isabelle as a newborn to hospital when she realised the little one hadn't been getting her breastmilk.
The Voice presenter, 45, admitted that she hit "rock bottom" at the time and felt like a "bad mum" as she succumbed to the pressures of breastfeeding despite not being able produce enough milk.
Emma told Giovanna Fletcher on her podcast Happy Mum Happy Baby: "I felt like a bad mum because for the first three days at home, I felt like I’d been feeding her 24 hours a day, but really no milk had been coming out.
"So she’d had nothing. And literally she just turned and you could just see it and I took her to A&E immediately."
Despite her hospital dash, Emma said she continued to put pressure on herself to breastfeed Isabelle, who is now 12, at the time but felt judged when she turned to formula.
The TV star shared: "I still continued to try and breastfeed for as long as I could because that was the thing to do.
"Everybody that came in to visit me, I felt like I was looked down on.
"Every time they came in and there was a bottle of formula next to me, it was kind of like, 'Ooh, not persevering?'
"I was like, 'I am persevering, but she wants more and I haven’t got any.' So I had to top her up with [formula]."
Reflecting on the difficult time, Emma began to tear up as she recalled the pressure she put herself under to persevere with breastfeeding and explained she became "depressed".
Emma said as her voice cracked with emotion: "After six weeks of trying so hard, I was so down and so depressed and just crying all the time because I wanted to, I wanted to do the best for her, that my mum just went, 'Stop it.'
I felt like I’d been feeding her 24 hours a day, but really no milk had been coming out
"Oh it gets me all upset thinking about it. 'Stop it, Emma. Honestly, you’re driving yourself mad when all she needs is for you [voice cracks]… Aah, Gi! What have you done? [sniffs] For you to give her the best start'" she continued.
'And if that is from your boob or from a bottle, just give her love, which you are. But you being this way is not the best thing for her.'
"So I got a bottle and a bit of formula and it was just happy days from then on."
Emma's candid conversation will no doubt give support to those struggling with breastfeeding and those who feel pressure to carry on with it.
The reality is that Emma's experience is not isolated and it's very common for mothers to not produce enough milk.
MATERNITY CARE CAREER
Following her first time mum experience, Emma went on to welcome two more children; Ace, nine, and five-year-old Trixie, with husband and McBusted star Matt Willis.
In 2018, the former model swapped showbiz for scrubs to work on the front line of a busy maternity unit for her award-winning show Emma Willis: Delivering Babies.
She spent three months training to become an NHS maternity care assistant for the show, which returned for a second series on the W channel in 2019.
The presenter worked up to 13-hour shifts four times a week, helping to deliver babies as well as completing a written test to become fully qualified at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex.
Emma was inspired to train as a maternity carer assistant after she had a traumatic birth with Isabelle, who had to be delivered by forceps after a long labour.
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