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Lauren Toyota opens up about breastfeeding difficulties: 'I got pretty frustrated'

The 40-year-old opened up about having a baby later in life, and offers her best tips for new or soon-to-be mothers.

Lauren Toyota has been a television personality, a content creator and a vegan cookbook author. But despite her prolific and exciting career, her most difficult job has been motherhood.

The now 40-year-old former Much Music reporter often takes to social media to share what it's really like to have a child slightly later in life.

"I'm a bit older. I waited a long time to have a baby and it actually wasn't something I thought I'd ever do," Toyota told Yahoo Canada. "It was a late decision when I knew I wanted to do it, and I didn't know what to expect."

Despite the challenge and uncertainty of being a new mother, Toyota explained she's "very glad" she waited to get pregnant. In her experience, she took a while to be in a place where she could handle being a parent.

As Toyota "didn't always desire motherhood," she was surprised at how quickly her maternal instinct kicked in once her baby arrived.

The Mississauga, Ont.-native added although her postpartum experience was aided by not having postpartum depression, she found there to be an information overload on how to care for her newborn child.

"I instinctively knew how to care for this little being and that really surprised me because I thought I was going to have difficulty," Toyota said. "But it's overwhelming to dive into the information that's out there and try to rely on your instinct at the same time. Social media mom accounts are great but they can also cloud your judgement."

While Toyota's motherhood journey has been positive, it didn't come without additional roadblocks. After her baby was born via caesarean section, there was a delay in her ability to breastfeed.

We need to get rid of this stigma that breastfeeding is always better, because really you just need to do what's right for your child.

"There was a lag in my milk production but [the doctors] told me to pump very frequently. I got pretty frustrated with all of that but I was determined to see it through," Toyota said.

Once Toyota and her newborn baby got home from the hospital, she was breastfeeding and supplementing with formula. She did this for four weeks until she was able to breastfeed 100 per cent of the time.

Despite her success, she found the first few weeks of motherhood to be anxiety-inducing due to the pressure to "do it all."

"It was hard. I was out of it from recovering from this major surgery, and pressuring myself to breastfeed," Toyota said. "There was some crying and beating myself up, but it didn't take away from the joy of having a baby."

Although Toyota chose the breastfeeding route, she acknowledged that this path is not suitable for all mothers because "everyone's body is different."

As such, she recommends new mothers give themselves grace when it comes to breastfeeding. In her opinion, it's all about putting the baby first and doing whatever needs to be done to make sure both the baby and the mother are happy and healthy.

"We need to be compassionate towards ourselves and think about the health of the baby. A lot of women can't breastfeed and they use formula and that's totally fine," Toyota said. "We need to get rid of this stigma that breastfeeding is always better, because really you just need to do what's right for your child."

"We need to get rid of this stigma that breastfeeding is always better, because really you just need to do what's right for your child."Lauren Toyota

While Toyota found breastfeeding to be one of her first postpartum difficulties, she said the increase in domestic tasks was also challenging.

As a self-proclaimed "control and neat freak," it was hard for her to keep up with the mess from toys, baby products and breastfeeding items. This is in addition to her usual tasks of laundry, dishes and general house cleaning.

And as new mothers are often sleep deprived and overwhelmed, Toyota explained that even the simplest chores can feel like climbing a mountain.

"When you're tired and navigating it day-to-day, it's hard. You can't get a minute to yourself and you cannot sleep," Toyota said. So if you can get help, get help. And if you can relinquish some of those controlling habits, then you'll definitely be better for it."

When it comes to advice for new or soon-to-be mothers, Toyota suggests going easy on the information found online or in books. To her, instilling plans or expectations before the baby arrives can make it more difficult as you question what sources are legitimate.

Instead, Toyota recommends leaving room for contingency because "things won't go as planned." This will help mothers let go of rigid visions for how they expect motherhood to unfold.

Additionally, Toyota thinks one of the most important things mothers can do is to be kind to themselves and not get flustered if something goes wrong.

"Be prepared, but give yourself grace. Stay open, go with the flow, and just enjoy it," Toyota said.

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