Does Kate Middleton Breastfeed, Or Did She Choose Formula?
Motherhood is difficult, even for royals like Kate Middleton. Many fans would probably like to hear Kate’s honest opinion about her experiences giving birth or taking care of an infant (currently Prince Louis). But they also wouldn’t want to hear her complain, especially because William and Kate have a household staff and at least one nanny.
So it’s unsurprising that while many people want to know whether Kate opted to breastfeed her babies or give them formula instead, she hasn’t opened up about how she chose to feed her children during the first few months of their lives. Ahead, discover what we do know about how Kate Middleton chose to feed her children — and the real reason why she probably won’t talk about it anytime soon.
Even before Prince George was born, people said they wanted Kate Middleton to breastfeed
Kate Middleton looks on as Prince William holds his new-born baby boy, Prince George, outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital. | John Stillwell/ AFP/ Getty Images
Even before Prince George’s birth, breastfeeding advocates appealed to the Duchess of Cambridge to breastfeed her child. But their agenda wasn’t Prince George’s nutrition. They just wanted Kate to make breastfeeding more popular among British mothers. “In June 2013, Beverley Turner — a British television presenter — publicly encouraged Middleton to choose breastfeeding for her child, as this has decreased in popularity across Great Britain in recent years,” Pregnancy Magazine reports.
Turner argued that Middleton opting to breastfeed — and doing it in public — could change the way young women view breastfeeding. She wrote in a column for The Telegraph, “Celebrity is depressingly powerful in dictating trends. As if there wasn’t enough pressure on her already, what we really need is The Duchess of Cambridge to get her Royal orbs out to feed our future monarch. And to be applauded — not seethed at — for doing so.”
The Duchess of Cambridge has kept her choices private
Perhaps reacting to the intense interest over Prince George’s diet, Kate Middleton has kept her choices private. PopSugar reported shortly after the birth of Prince Louis — William and Kate’s third child — that the duchess still “has not formally talked about whether or not she has breastfed in the past or plans to with her new little one.”
The publication also claimed that “there have been clues since George was born that she has breastfed and will, therefore, continue with that for her new son.” However, those “clues” are mostly speculation. Some are dubiously-sourced tabloid stories. Another is Kate’s choice to wear maternity clothes also designed for easy breastfeeding. Still another “clue” consists of photos revealing that the duchess lost weight quickly postpartum (which could be the effect of her diet and personal trainer).
As for those tabloid stories? In 2018, OK! upped the ante, asking “breastfeeding expert” Clare Byam-Cook about how Kate could manage to breastfeed Prince Louis during the royal wedding (without evidence that she was breastfeeding). And back in 2013, The Mirror quoted a “senior royal source” who said that both mother and baby “caught on quickly” to breastfeeding. But the source warned, “Don’t expect Kate to be photographed breastfeeding. . . She feels that it is a matter of personal choice, and that new mums should do whatever feels right for them and their baby.”
People assumed she would breastfeed based on royal tradition
Kate Middleton and Prince William depart the Lindo Wing with Prince Louis. | Dan Kitwood/ Getty Images
In the absence of any official word from the royal family, contributors to online forums and British tabloids alike turned to royal protocol to try to figure out whether Kate Middleton breastfeeds. In 2013, The Daily Mail reported, “Will the Duchess breastfeed her son? Recent Royal tradition – and her own very modern outlook – suggest she will.”
Similarly, The Guardian speculated that “The Duchess of Cambridge is likely to follow the Queen and her mother-in-law’s lead and nurse her newborn.” Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana chose to breastfeed, the Guardian noted. However, the publication also conceded that “it remains uncertain what decision she will make.”
More recently, after the 2018 birth of Prince Louis, The Express reported that “it is assumed Kate is breastfeeding Louis,” though the tabloid offered no sources or evidence of the duchess’s choice.
They also looked to her weight as a clue that she breastfeeds
Closer Weekly in 2018 pointed to Kate Middleton’s physique as a clue that she breastfeeds. “Kate has been known to quickly bounce back into her pre-pregnancy body after giving birth,” the publication explained. “When you breastfeed, you burn calories quicker and subsequently could lose weight faster, so that might explain why she looks so fabulous.”
But the Mayo Clinic reports that “after an immediate postpartum weight loss of about 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms), weight loss tends to happen gradually.” Plus, the clinic adds, “It often takes six to nine months to lose weight gained during pregnancy.”
The Guardian notes that “studies that measured the effect of breastfeeding on weight loss have found only a small effect.” As the publication adds, “biological differences will mean that some women will find it easier to lose weight, and others harder.” So Kate’s quick weight loss may have more to do with her genetics than with how she feeds her infants.
People would judge Kate Middleton if she didn’t breastfeed
Prince William and Kate Middleton, carrying baby Prince George, arrive at the airport in Wellington for a three-week tour of New Zealand and Australia. | Mark Tantrum/ AFP/ Getty Images
The Daily Mail claimed in 2018 that “Insiders say Kate plans to breastfeed her new baby, but no one would think less of her if she did decide to call in specialist help.” The problem? It’s probably true that few people would have blamed the duchess for calling in a lactation consultant. But many would have judged her if she chose to feed Prince Louis formula, even part of the time.
The Sun had a “royal correspondent” who said that the duchess breastfed George and Charlotte, but supplemented George’s diet with an “evening bottle” of formula. And a Vanity Fair contributor learned that as an infant, Prince George “cried loudly and frequently.” Reportedly, “the baby prince, who was still breastfeeding, was permanently hungry.” And “it was only in the new year, when Kate introduced solids, that George finally slept through the night.”
As The New York Times reports, “For as long as there have been babies, there have been debates over how to feed them.”As the Times adds, “What is often missing from the debate over breast vs. bottle is the fact that so many women do both.” Despite the science — Vox notes that in places with access to clean water, “the health benefits of breastfeeding are probably very small” — many mothers feel bullied and shamed if they can’t or don’t want to breastfeed.
But if Kate Middleton opened her mouth to share her experiences, she might be shouted down by one side of the debate or the other. On a contentious topic like breastfeeding — or parenting in general — you just can’t win.
Read more: Does Kate Middleton Do Her Own Grocery Shopping?
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