Breast­fed to age nine

This proud mum-of-four has no re­grets about her de­ci­sion

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

When Sharon Spink gave birth to her fourth child, she de­cided to let Char­lotte choose when she wanted to be weaned, but she never imag­ined she would still be breast­feed­ing her daugh­ter af­ter she went to school.

“It’s nice for the child to be in con­trol of when they want to wean, rather than forc­ing the is­sue,” ex­plains Sharon, who gave up breast­feed­ing in pub­lic when Char­lotte turned five be­cause of the re­ac­tion of strangers.

“I have been called ev­ery name un­der the sun. I’ve been told it’s child abuse, I’ve been called a pae­dophile 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.”

Ini­tially be­liev­ing that her daugh­ter would nat­u­rally stop crav­ing her breast milk within a cou­ple of years, 50-year-old Sharon was sur­prised when Char­lotte was still de­mand­ing “mummy milk” when she was five years old.

But de­spite her con­cerns, the Bri­tish-based mother con­tin­ued to breast­feed as she truly be­lieved it was the best thing for her daugh­ter – even though there were times when she wished she could stop.

“There were times when I wanted to give up, es­pe­cially in the early days of feed­ing, 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,” she says.

“By four-and-a-half Char­lotte was sleep­ing through the night, but she’d still come into the bed and have a feed. Some­times I wouldn’t even re­alise and I’d ask her the next day whether she came in dur­ing the night.”

Sharon be­lieves her un­usual de­ci­sion to keep breast­feed­ing Char­lotte, even af­ter she turned nine, ce­mented their close mother-daugh­ter bond.

“She self-weaned ear­lier this year, but it was a grad­ual process and was com­pletely her choice,” says Sharon. “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, and now she hasn’t done it for about two months.

“I hope when she’s older she’ll re­mem­ber that feel­ing of com­fort and se­cu­rity it gave her rather than it be­ing about feed­ing.”

‘I’ve been told it’s child abuse, it’s wrong and that I’m a freak’

By the time she was five, Char­lotte was breast­feed­ing three times a day. Sharon says she has a life­long bond with her daugh­ter thanks to “mummy milk”.

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