Breastfed to age nine
This proud mum-of-four has no regrets about her decision
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”.