A NSW mum has opened up about the pressure to wean children off breastfeeding – and explained why she’s proud to still be nursing her son, aged three.
Single mum of three Sarah Mills, 33, is devoted to her children and says she is determined to give them everything – and that includes breastfeeding her youngest until he’s ready to stop.
Sarah told 7NEWS.com.au she didn’t intend on nursing Morrison for so long, but they have built a strong bond as a result.
“When I was pregnant with my second child everyone told me I’d need to wean and I still feel guilt around that,” Sarah said. “When I had Morrison, I had no desire to force the weaning.”
The little boy now feeds on and off throughout the day, often for comfort.
But the mum explained that because Morrison also has mild cerebral palsy food can cause him to choke, so breastmilk remains his main source of nutrition.
“It’s funny when I see the comments saying it is not beneficial at that age because he is thriving and is the healthiest of all my children. He has barely had a cold in his life,” Sarah said.
“For me it is logical to give them the best start. I don’t understand why you would remove your child from a natural food source and give them another species’ milk. We are the only species that does that, and it is so weird to me.”
Sarah recently made headlines after sharing a photo of herself breastfeeding in Target – and said she was saddened by the number of women who have reached out to her to say keep the fact they are breastfeeding older children a secret.
“I had a lot of women tell me they are still feeding four to four and half-year-olds and one was feeding her six-year-old,” Sarah said.
“We are over sexualising our breasts. A woman sitting nursing her child is considered a sexual thing and porn has played a big role in that I feel.
“I walk around naked all day long and my ten-year-old doesn’t bat an eyelid,” the mum added. “We need to tell them that is what they are there for. They shouldn’t be viewed as disgusting or rude.”
Sarah is also adamant women should not have to cover up when breastfeeding in public.
“Morrison would scream his head off if I tried to put a blanket over his head. You see more at the beach than you do when I’m breastfeeding my child. Breasts are for breastfeeding. We wouldn’t sit with a blanket over us eating, so why should he.
“We feed because it benefits the child. It is a self-less act and we shouldn’t be shamed for doing that,” she added, explaining that research has shown the benefits of extended breastfeeding, including building the immune system, which isn’t fully developed until around six. “Obviously I am giving him the best start.”
Lactation consultant and baby care author Pinky McKay, who runs an Instagram account called, Where are you feeding today, said breastfeeding is an important mothering tool.
“As well as nutrition and immunity, which doesn’t have a ‘use by date’ whatever age child you are breastfeeding, it’s also about comfort and connection. The hormones released during breastfeeding have a natural calming effect on mother and child.
“If we offer mothers more support for breastfeeding wherever they are, this would be a helpful contribution to mental health. In actual fact breastfeeding is anti-inflammatory so has a significant, positive impact on maternal health, both mentally and physically,” Pinky added.
World Health Organisation guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.