Chrissy Teigen Felt More Shamed For Using Formula Than "Pulling Out My Boob" In Public
The best-selling cookbook author has openly talked about the stigma she’s faced when it came to how to feed her babies.
When I call Chrissy Teigen at her home in Los Angeles, ahead of her keynote address at ByHeart Formula’s second annual Feed Fest Summit, she warns me that I might hear a baby in the background. Before my shock even registers — did she give birth to her new baby already and I’m the first reporter to know?! — she adds quickly, “It’s not my baby!” (OK, whew. I didn’t accidentally miss a big announcement.) “But you’re getting close,” I offer. “I think I just look like I’m getting really close,” she laughs. “We still got a while to go.”
Teigen’s vibe over the phone is very much in keeping with her quirky but personable public persona. We talk about the joys of working from home (we’re both wearing loungewear in bed); her pregnancy cravings; volunteering at her children’s school (“Teachers give me the gossip on what [Luna, 7 and Miles, 4] are telling them about the new baby.”); and the weird satisfaction of pumping (“I liked to see it, even if it was a minuscule amount.”) The kind of disjointed happy mess that often marks mom life. So it’s perfectly in keeping that her speech during Feed Fest’s kickoff dinner was all about “The Chaos of Parenthood,” and she was excited to be able to lean into the theme.
“I feel like I do talk about being a mom a lot and I post pictures of them a lot,” she says, “but I often pull myself back because I'm like, ‘Oh, my gosh, am I that annoying mom now that's like her whole life is her kids and that's all she talks about?’ So I'm so excited that I get this chance to actually be asked about it.”
Her partnership with ByHeart — the first new infant formula manufacturer in over 15 years to be registered with the FDA with an emphasis on high-quality, “clean” ingredients — makes sense. Not only is Teigen a best-selling cookbook author always thinking about feeding people, she’s also a mom who has openly talked about the stigma she’s faced when it came to how to feed her babies, specifically formula feeding.
“There is a lot of shame in breastfeeding, still,” she says, then pauses, “I feel like people just maybe don't want to see it or don't want to hear you talk about it, so it's not necessarily a shame. But when I was using formula, I felt way more ashamed for using formula than pulling out my boob anywhere.”
Pressure to breastfeed, she says, impeded her own efforts. “Nothing stops your production like stress,” she says. That ultimately prompted her and husband John Legend to fly in donor milk, though this method didn’t last. “We would smell each donor milk and we’re like, ‘This cannot be better!’” But even the switch to formula wasn’t stress-free. What formula do you pick? The samples the hospital gives you? European brands your fellow moms whisper about that you have to import from Germany?
Fortunately, time and experience are good teachers. Knowing friends who breastfed, formula fed for medical reasons, or simply by choice helped her see that there’s a variety of great options when it comes to feeding a baby. Options, she says, that are only getting better. “We've come such a long way with being able to get the taste right, and the nutrition right, and everything. Breast is, of course, an amazing, incredible option, but if you don't have that, it's nice to have something that is as closely replicated to breast milk as possible. Our babies deserve this.”
Experience has also allowed her to feel more confident generally as she and her family gear up to welcome their newest member. “With this baby I just feel like a lot stronger mentally,” she says. “I just feel like I'm going to be able to stand up for what I want and what I know is going to be best for them. To me, being a mom feels like the only thing I've done right. I've made a lot of mistakes in life, and I’m usually not very bold about saying, ‘I'm proud of doing this’ or ‘winning that.’ But I can say that about being a mom. I'm really proud about the way of the way we raised our kids.”
But of all the things she’s looking forward to, she’s especially excited to see both Miles and Luna as older siblings. (Miles is coming around on the idea that he won’t be the baby anymore. “They're just so warm and nurturing,” she says warmly. “Their little cousin is over now and seeing them with babies is so fun and so beautiful. Honestly, they're really living for it. And I know that they're going to be so excited to help feed the baby.” I can hear a smile creeping across her face. “Luna definitely says no diapers, but we make that a daddy thing, anyway.”