Former One Direction heartthrob Louis Tomlinson has opened up about performing on The X Factor just days after his mother died from cancer and confessed it was tough.

Midwife Johannah was just 42 when she died on December 7 following a battle with leukaemia.

As well as Louis, she is survived by six other children –Lottie, 18, Felicite, 16, twins Daisy and Phoebe, both 12, and twins Ernest and Doris, both two, who she gave birth to prematurely in 2014.

Her dying wish had been for Louis, 25, to go ahead with his pre-planned performance of his debut solo track Just Hold On with DJ Steve Aoki on the ITV talent show.

Reflecting on it now, Louis said: "I have had to watch it back a couple of times since, because in the moment right there and especially with the emotion and everything, it all just whizzed by so quickly.

"I was terrified at the time, but it was a real moment and it really helped me going out and having Steve there with me," he added in an interview with SiriusXM Radio.

Louis Tomlinson and Johannah Deakin
Louis Tomlinson described his mother Johannah Deakin (right), as his 'best friend' Getty

His actions won the praise of head judge and music boss Simon Cowell, 57, who told him "What you've just done, and the bravery, I respect you as an artist and as a person.

"Your mum was so proud of you Louis. She was so looking forward to tonight and she's looking down on you."

Louis' comments come as he celebrated the first birthday of son Freddie Reign.

He and his baby's mother, Brianna Jungwirth, marked the special occasion with a family get-together.

Briana – who had a brief relationship with Louis in May 2015 – shared a video of the lad being presented with a birthday cake on her Instagram account.

In it, Louis can be seen placing a protective arm around the tot.

Louis is newly single having recently split with his actress girlfriend of more than a year, Danielle Campbell.

Louis celebrated son Freddie's first birthday with baby mama ex Briana Jungwirth