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Breastfeeding her two-week-old baby girl, Theadora, former Hi-5 star, Charli Robinson looked radiant as she appeared on Today Extra this morning.
Mum-of-one and host, Sylvia Jeffreys who only recently returned from maternity leave, began by asking Charli, 40, what she would say to those people who think it’s brave or inappropriate for her to be breastfeeding on national television.
The mum-of-two under two, was quick to respond that it was either, have her on the show as she breastfeeds her baby or cross to an empty screen because her newborn had just woken up.
Speaking to host David Campbell, Charli said: “For example David, if you just woke up and said, ‘I’m parched and I need a drink’ and I said ‘no, I’m not going to give you anything to drink, you are going to practise self-control and I’m going to give you a drink on my schedule’.
“No one would do that if they loved you and it’s the same with a baby. Why would you ever hold back if they need to eat?”
Charli, who shares daughters, Kensington, 18 months and two-week-old, Theadora, with her partner, Liam Talbot, told the Today Extra hosts that according research from Philips Avent, over half of Aussie women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public and that there is a cultural taboo surrounding it.
“How is that possible?,” Charli asks. “We need to breakdown that stigma and taboo. This is nature, it is natural and when a baby needs to feed it should be celebrated.”
This World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August), the former Hi-5 star and Philips Avent ambassador, says we need to support new mums.
“When you’re a new mum, you’ve barely slept and your hormones are everywhere, so when you go out and have to breastfeed, the last thing you want is for someone to look at you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable and that you shouldn’t be doing it in public,” she says.
“Almost everyone unanimously agrees that breast is best for the child, and yet there’s this underlying tension that’s not spoken about. Breastfeeding is an incredibly rewarding experience, however it doesn’t change the fact that it can take its toll, especially when you’re struggling to feed a newborn,” Charli continues.
“It’s important that we discuss the reality of breastfeeding and remove the societal pressures about feeding, so that new mums can be prepared.”
With two kids under two, Charli is a master at multi-tasking.
Mother and childcare brand, Philips Avent commissioned new research on the pressures breastfeeding mums are still facing*.
The study revealed almost a third (30%) of Australian mums are embarrassed talking about their feeding issues because of societal pressures, while two in five (43%) admit they feel isolated when breastfeeding their baby.
Despite seven in ten mums admitting breastfeeding is physically and mentally exhausting, almost all believe breastfeeding is the most natural and nutritional process and four in five believe breast milk is best for the child – simply highlighting the lengths mums will go to for their newborns.
Charli says “pumping without stigma allows women more freedom”.
Juggling work and breastfeeding is also a huge barrier for mothers looking to return to work. Two in five mums said being unable to breastfeed at work was a major barrier to returning sooner, while six in ten mums said they don’t like their colleagues seeing or hearing them pump at work.
Charli added: “Breastfeeding or pumping without stigma allows women more freedom to do the things they choose, such as getting back to work or simply going to the shops, while giving their baby the best nutrients from the breast.”
“I was fortunate enough to be able to return to work on location for Getaway just eight weeks after giving birth to Kensington, because I was able to express milk in the bathrooms. It was a lifesaver in helping me get back to it sooner, but still feed Kensington breast milk.”
In an emotional Instagram post, Charli shared an insight into her breastfeeding journey with her first daughter, Kensington.
“The nights are long, i feel like I sit 24/7, it was confronting in public when i was new to it, and tears shed wondering if she drank enough or why was she fussy. But for all those tears…I then cried when it was the last time…that emotional exhausting, beautiful ride we shared was ending,” she wrote.
“I gave her everything she needed to grow and she gave me confidence & trust in being a mummy. If breastfeeding isn’t for you, no worries at all!!! But if you do, don’t ever feel embarrassed or ashamed- it’s natural, it’s nature, you’re doing amazing!”
The research also revealed that of those mums who chose to pump exclusively, three in five had experienced difficulties breastfeeding, such as poor latching, sore nipples and problems with milk production, causing them to feel like a failed mother.
Midwife and founder of Birth Beat, Edwina Sharrock, added: “Working with mums across the country for over a decade, I can honestly say that having feeding issues is completely normal. Unfortunately, mothers often come to me feeling ashamed and isolated because they haven’t spoken to anyone. With education and support, it doesn’t have to be that way,”
“I’m not surprised to hear that the research by Philips Avent showed that three quarters of new mothers don’t know what to do – in that instance, it’s important to call on their GP, midwife or lactation consultant to help you.
“However, mothers should also be leaning on their networks to help them get through the emotional side of breastfeeding. If everyone can show more empathy and compassion towards mothers breastfeeding, whether at work, at the shops, or simply listening to a friend, mums will feel more supported.”
*Research conducted by Pure Profile in June 2020 of 1,000 mothers with children under five years old, of whom all had breastfeeding experience.