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Breastfeeding Mom Still Feeds Daughter Age 5
London -- Breastfeeding in public is common and accepted, but mom Sharon Spink, 44, gets more than the usual number of glances when she feed her daughter Charlotte, who is 5 and at school.
Sharon says she will let her daughter breastfeed until she is ready to stop as it promotes a close bond between mother and daughter as well as boosting Charlotte's immune system.
"I'm not doing anything wrong... Children don't judge." Sharon feeds Charlotte two or three times a day and is happy to do it wherever necessary "I've breastfed in the hairdresser's, supermarket and church before.
"I've even breastfed Charlotte in front of her school friends. Children don't judge. It tends to be adults who do that. But thankfully their parents are all very supportive."
"I'm not doing anything wrong. A mother should be free to do what she thinks is right for her child, whether that is formula feeding from birth or breastfeeding indefinitely."
Sharon lives in Sherburn-in-Elmet in North Yorkshire with her husband Paul, 41, and their children, Isobel, eight, and Charlotte, five. Sharon also has two children from a previous relationship Kevin, 26, and Sarah, 24.
Sharon and Paul make and sell jewellery together and Sharon has spoken out about the criticism she sometimes receives from total strangers: "People will often stare or shake their heads when I feed Charlotte in public. Sometimes they'll turn their backs or move seats, and actually criticize me as a mother. I've heard people say it's weird and it's child abuse verging on pedophilia. It hurts but I'm confident in what I'm doing."
"I recently fell out with a close friend who said that my only reason for breastfeeding this long was to keep Charlotte a baby. Even my eldest daughter, Sarah, disagrees with what I do but everyone is entitled to their opinion."
Husband Paul is supportive although he admits that some of the more public feeds have caused him embarrassment.
However, some experts have expressed caution.
Dr. Sandra Wheatley, a social psychologist says there is no nutritional benefit and sometimes "The potential negative psychological effects on the child far outweigh the positive."