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Stacey Solomon: 'I questioned whether there was something wrong with me because I didn't feel the way others described feeling after having a baby'

Ella Walker chats to singer and telly presenter Stacey Solomon about parental judgment and adding a third baby to her family

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Unvarnished truth: Stacey Solomon has been open about the ups and downs of being a mother

Unvarnished truth: Stacey Solomon has been open about the ups and downs of being a mother

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Growing family: Stacey Solomon with sons Zachary and Leighton

Growing family: Stacey Solomon with sons Zachary and Leighton

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Stacey with partner Joe Swash

Stacey with partner Joe Swash

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Stacey Solomon with baby Rex

Stacey Solomon with baby Rex

Getty Images for The Peanut App

Unvarnished truth: Stacey Solomon has been open about the ups and downs of being a mother

Stacey Solomon still seems to be the perpetually bubbly, sunshine-bright, endlessly positive star we first met on the X-Factor, who became a regular household name thanks to Loose Women and I'm A Celeb.

You get the sense she will always give a person the benefit of the doubt, so while she doesn't think most people judge parents on purpose, "sometimes people don't think about what they're saying".

"Most of the time, it's because they want to help you or give you good advice, but a lot of the time, as a parent who's exhausted and struggling and constantly questioning yourself anyway, it ends up feeling like you're doing everything wrong," she says, explaining why she's teamed up with breastfeeding brand Lansinoh on the #MyBabyMyWay campaign to highlight how unhelpful parental judgment can be.

Solomon (30) has dealt with a quite a lot of unsolicited criticism over the years, "from having my first child when I was 18, to my decisions whether I breastfed or not".

Now a mum of three - to Zachary (11), Leighton (7) and nine-month-old Rex - recently she's had people grilling her on how she puts her youngest to bed.

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Growing family: Stacey Solomon with sons Zachary and Leighton

Growing family: Stacey Solomon with sons Zachary and Leighton

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Growing family: Stacey Solomon with sons Zachary and Leighton

"Rex sleeps through the night sometimes. Sometimes he doesn't. We have good and bad days and I love cuddling him to sleep - we don't do controlled crying, and I've had people wondering why," she says.

"It's when you're not asking for advice and get bombarded with it that your confidence can really take a hit, (particularly) when you're doing something and you're happy doing it and then someone tears you down about it.

"It's very difficult. You're plodding along okay and then someone says something, and you think, 'Oh my God, I'm doing it all wrong, I'm rubbish'.

"But if (what you're doing) works for you, then it works for you.

"I definitely have to try and keep that mentality. If it's working for us and it makes us happy, that's all that matters."

"I'm 11 years down the line with it at this point. I feel like you do build up some resilience. You learn to take everybody's advice with a pinch of salt and just go with your gut."

Then again, she admits, being a parent brings with it shifting moments of guilt and confusion and "it is hard to trust your instincts sometimes because for me, personally, after I had my babies, I feel like my instincts are all over the place. I actually feel like I know less than I've ever known".

"When I had Rex, I genuinely forgot everything. It was seven years since my last newborn baby. I just felt like I had no idea what I was doing because my hormones and emotions were everywhere."

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Stacey Solomon with baby Rex

Stacey Solomon with baby Rex

Getty Images for The Peanut App

Stacey Solomon with baby Rex

At that point, she explains, she "welcomed every bit of advice I could get".

There are times when, as a parent, you absolutely do have to access the right advice at the right time.

"When I had Zachary, I questioned whether there was something wrong with me because I just didn't feel the way that people described feeling after having a baby," Solomon recalls.

"As I've had more children, I've realised it's definitely a part of my make-up to feel that way and it's just the hormones and my body changing, so this time around, I felt really prepared."

Knowing she only "had to ask, and speak up about how I was feeling" was, she says, "a really valuable lesson".

She adds: "There is support out there. There are people who will help you get through if you have a difficult time in the early days, or even prenatal.

"I definitely learnt to say exactly how I was feeling a lot earlier on, so that I got the support I needed."

The Dagenham-born presenter does think we are gradually getting better at communicating around parenting without making people feel like enormous failures.

"We're all different, but we've all got something in common: we're all carers and we should stick together and build each other up," she says, explaining that when you do receive supportive messages online, "you feel like you're part of a sisterhood and you've got each other's backs".

Plus, she adds: "It's so nice to know that you're not the only one who sits there and questions every single decision that you ever make for this human, that's going to shape and potentially change their life in ways you can't even comprehend."

It's understandably tricky at times to drown out the doubting voice in your mind when faced with a tiny baby who is totally, overwhelmingly dependent on you. "You're constantly thinking, 'Is this right, is it wrong? Should I do more of this? Should I do less of it? Should I have said that?'" says Solomon, breathless. "You question everything that you're doing, so it's nice to know that you're not alone and that you're all in the same boat together."

Rex is Solomon's first baby with her partner and fellow telly personality Joe Swash (38), who has a son, Harry, from a previous relationship. "I fell in love with Joe, not just because he's Joe and he's just amazing, but also because he's such an amazing dad," says Solomon. "He's been a dad since I met him. He's such a great father and parent and role model, and I think that's the most wonderful part of him. I absolutely love that about him."

Adding to her brood, though, especially when there's a bit of an age gap between your children, was something Solomon had to consider. "When we first found out we were pregnant, I did panic a little bit, because obviously it's a whole new human in their life," she says of her older boys. "It's been the two of them for the last seven years. I just really didn't know how it would go. They're quite a lot older as well.

"I panicked about being able to love them all enough and give them all enough attention because three is so many more than two. I really struggled with it, but they've adapted so well."

In fact, she's found the age gap to be a positive.

"They can be a bit more responsible. They're not in competition with the baby, obviously, because they're into totally different things, which is really nice. They're doing so well and I'm so proud of them both."

Stacey Solomon is leading the #MyBabyMyWay campaign with breastfeeding brand Lansinoh to highlight the impact of parental judgement and empower new mums to overcome it

Belfast Telegraph