- Sharon Spink, a mother of four, has been breastfeeding her kid for the past nine years
- Finally, her daughter has decided to get weaned and stop taking breast milk
- This has prompted Sharon to reveal the reason why she breastfed her kid for this long
For mothers, the act of breastfeeding their children normally span the age frame of six months to two years. But as bizarre as it may sound, a British woman named Sharon Spink has revealed that she has been breastfeeding her daughter for the past nine years.
Now, Sharon has been called a lot of names by a lot of people for this uncommon act. Some has referred to her as a paedophile while others have insisted that she is abusing her child by still breastfeeding her.
In a conversation with The Sun, Sharon Spink, an actress and a mother of four, finally unraveled the reason for this act. According to her, breastfeeding a child for this long is very much a normal act which helps to cement a long lasting bond and relationship with such kid.
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Sharon further said that she was a big supporter of natural term weaning which encouraged children to get weaned only when they want to. As for her daughter named Charlotte, she has decided to stop taking 'Mummy's milk' at age nine.
Although many people have criticised her for letting her child feed from her for this long, Sharon has defended her action by enumerating the health benefits of breastfeeding Charlotte for this long. For one, the actress made it clear that her daughter rarely gets sick because of her well boosted immune system.
The 50-year-old woman had this to say about the reason for her belief in natural term weaning: “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. 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. 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 envisaged it would end. It was her choice and was done in a very gradual way."
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Sharon who is based in North Yorkshire also had quite a number to say about the challenges of sticking to her principle and letting her daughter get a piece of her for as long as possible. One of the issues she faced with regards to this is the insults from people online. But there was a whole lot more than that.
For one, when Charlotte was five, she used to feed in the public places about three to four times. Although, this reduced with time, it was nonetheless challenging.
“Sometimes I wouldn’t even realise and I’d ask her the next day whether she came in in the night to feed. By the time she was five, Charlotte was breastfeeding three times a day but over the last four years, this has reduced to just once a month.
She stopped feeding in public when she was about four or five. 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.
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’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. I just want to let other mums 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. I explain to her that they are people who do not know her or us or our situation."
Obviously there have been the negatives – usually from typical keyboard warriors who post their opinion."
Talking about the motivation behind her resolution to continue in spite of all odds, Sharon said she had had an issue with one of her other daughters Isabel who had lost a lot of weight during childhood and had to be given supplements.
“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. 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 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'."
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For Sharon, her determination and zeal to make Charlotte a healthy child by means of breastfeeding has worked as the 9-year-old rarely falls sick, and also, it has helped made her relationship with her stronger.
“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. She’s not had an ear infection, cough or cold for a long time but it’s hard to say what the long term health benefits will be as I can’t turn back the clock and see how it would be had she stopped earlier.
When compared to my other three children I would say she is healthier and doesn’t get as many coughs, colds and tummy aches. She’s got all her adult teeth. I’d read when they get all their adult teeth they lose the ability to latch on but it seems to be fine.
For quite a while she fed on the left side and every so often she’d try the other side and say it tastes different. I can’t express milk anymore, but I still was able to produce it when she fed.”
Now, Charlotte have decided to get weaned and stop taking the milk. This decision must have been prompted by her growing knowledge about the society and the fact that her older sister Isabel who did not the privilege she did was becoming jealous.
Sharon who has now qualified as a breastfeeding counselor also talked about empowering it was to have gone through the amazing journey of breastfeeding her child for about nine years.
“Isabel is laid back about it. I think when she was younger it caused problems with jealousy with Charlotte getting more of mummy’s time.
“There has been the odd time when Isabel said ‘can I have a go? I wouldn’t know how to do it’ and she would pretend to feed. I hope that this has helped Charlotte decide if she wants to breastfeed when she’s older.”
It feels empowering doing something like this. All four of my children were born by c-section and I felt like my body had failed. I hated feeling like that but it was true.
I’ve grown up and learned so much more now. I look back and I’ve got four healthy children who had they not been born by c-section would not be here today. With breastfeeding when it doesn’t happen you feel like your body is not working properly.
I tried to breastfeed three children and failed and that made me more determined. I feel like my body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. It’s what breasts are for."
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