British Mom Defends Breastfeeding 9-Year-Old Nov 13, 2018 18:29:32 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Nov 13, 2018 18:29:32 GMT -5
British Mom Defends Breastfeeding 9-Year-Old
A British mother in Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire, has revealed she will miss breastfeeding her daughter after the youngster finally weaned herself at age 9. Sharon Spink, who has three other children, insisted feeding Charlotte until earlier this year was completely normal and has cemented a lifelong bond between the two. Despite having been nursed for almost a decade, the schoolgirl decided to stop two months ago.
Spink, who supports natural term-weaning, claimed Charlotte is healthy and rarely gets sick, which she attributed to the beneficial properties of “mummy milk.” And in spite of the backlash from critics who have accused her of child abuse, Spink, 50, wants to eliminate the stigma associated with breastfeeding older children – believing there are many moms out there doing it.
“When I came to have Charlotte, I had decided on natural term weaning. It’s nice for the child to be in control of when they want to wean, rather than forcing the issue,” Spink continued. “She naturally self-weaned earlier this year. It was a gradual process and her choice. She was feeding about once a month if she wasn’t feeling great or was feeling a bit run down and was going longer and longer without feeding.”
Allowing her child to give up nursing slowly made it easier, Spink claimed. “Now she hasn’t done it for about two months. She told me she would stop when she was 10, which will be in April next year, but it seems to have come to a natural end earlier, although I would have allowed her to continue for as long as she wants to. As she’s been reducing anyway, I don’t feel sad about it. If she would have stopped suddenly, I think I would have missed it, but it’s just nice that it’s come to a natural end. It’s how I envisioned it would end. It was her choice and was done in a very gradual way.
“We haven’t had a discussion about her not doing it anymore,” Spink explained. “I just hope when she’s older, she’ll remember that feeling of comfort and security it gave her, rather than it being about feeding. We have such a close bond and I’m convinced it’s because of breastfeeding her for so long. It cemented our bond and I don’t think that will change now it’s stopped. I think we’re closer because of doing it. I haven’t had any pangs since she stopped and she still comes for a cuddle. With Charlotte, it about was the security. Children find a lot of comfort in the breast and the older they get the more it becomes about comfort rather than nutrition.”
Spink said she was determined to nurse Charlotte as long as her daughter desired to feed, something she had wanted to do with her other three children: Kim, 30; Sarah, 28; and Isabel, 12. “I breastfed my first two children for a couple of weeks and my daughter Isabel for about six months, but I ran into problems and felt like there was a lack of support,” she said. “When Isabel was four-months-old, she lost weight and I had to supplement that with formula. I was determined to make it work for Charlotte. My initial goal was to get past the six months mark, then it became 12 months, then two years which is the WHO minimum recommendation. After that, it was seeing how far she wanted to go.
“There were times when I wanted to give up, especially in the early days of feeding,” Spink admitted, “but you think ‘I’m doing this for my child. This is what she wants and I’ll carry on because I know it’s helping her.’” Charlotte started sleeping through the night, but would still come into her mom’s bed for a feed. “Sometimes I wouldn’t even realize and I’d ask her the next day whether she came in the night to feed,” Spink added. By the time she was 5, Charlotte was breastfeeding three times day, but over the last four years, it became around once a month.
Spink breastfed Charlotte in public places, including beauty salons, the supermarket and church, but eventually, the girl breastfed only at home. “She stopped feeding in public when she was about 4 or 5,” Spink recalled. “Charlotte doesn’t talk about it at school. It’s not something that would come up in conversation with schoolmates. The reaction I get from within the breastfeeding community is one of support. There were a lot of positive comments.
“Obviously there have been the negatives,” the mother admitted, “usually from typical keyboard warriors who post their opinion. I have been called every name under the sun. I’ve been told it’s child abuse, I’ve been called a pedophile and told it’s wrong and that I’m a freak. The first time it upset me because I wasn’t used to it, but now it’s water off a duck’s back. Charlotte knows it’s not true and people I care about know it’s not true. I explain to her that they are people who do not know her, or us, or our situation.”
According to Spink, friends and family have been supportive of her decision and now she wants to raise awareness of nursing older children because she believes other mothers are too “scared” to admit they do it. “I’m sure it’s more common that people think, but mums are too scared to talk about it and are scared of the backlash from people that don’t understand that it’s normal,” she claimed. “I just want to let other moms out there who are wondering ‘should I or should I not?’ that this is normal and this is what children do. If they feed for as long as they want to, they will naturally wean. In a lot of countries, it’s perfectly normal to breastfeed older children and they will do it for a lot longer than we do in the West,” she added.
Source: Anna Roberts, The Sun, November 13, 2018.