A mum who is still breastfeeding her five-year-old son is encouraging more mothers to feel comfortable nursing their children, regardless of the child’s age.
Amy Hardcastle wants break the stigma on extended breastfeeding and show critics that it’s completely natural and not something to be considered weird as it’s good for the child and encourages closeness.
When Max was first born Amy didn’t initially feel comfortable breastfeeding her newborn, however she slowly gained the confidence enough to do it in public whenever Max needed it.
After six months Amy began weaning Max onto baby food, alongside her breastmilk, but after joining local support groups and learning about the benefits of breastfeeding, she began to question why she should have to stop so soon.
“I have breastfed Max for five years, and he breastfeeds now a few times a week, but neither of us have decided to stop nursing yet,” the 27-year-old, from Lancashire, UK, said.
“I had no idea about breastfeeding before I had Max. My mum and I guessed that six months was a good length of time, then I got into support groups and involved with the breastfeeding festival, so I learned more about nursing until the child weans themselves.
“I try to explain that just because something isn’t the cultural norm here, it doesn’t make it wrong. Breastfeeding makes complete sense since my body continues to produce milk to sustain and nourish my child.”
The stay-at-home mum said it’s just about going for as long as it works for both mum and bub.
“If breastfeeding him was no longer working for me then I would stop,” she said. “I chose to night wean him because I pulled muscles in my ribs from straining to feed him and lie comfortably in bed.
“When he was younger I used to breastfeed in public, but now it’s rare that he would want to nurse when we’re out as he is older. It’s always at home now.
“I have no problem nursing during the day, so I’ll keep going until he wants to stop. I don’t have a problem continuing until he’s fully done. I have friends who were also happy to continue to carry on until the child weaned and they stopped much younger because all children are different.”
Amy said she doesn’t give her son breastmilk over food, but if he wants to nurse she obliges.
“If he’s hungry then he eats and if he wants to nurse then he does so,” she said.
“Breastmilk never stops being good for you and it’s mostly about comfort and closeness.
“You can also talk about it with them, I can let him know if my breasts are feeling sore or if I’m feeling touched out and need to say no or ask him to wait until later.”
Amy wants to others to not see breastfeeding beyond a certain age as wrong or weird.
After posting breastfeeding pictures on her Instagram, despite getting mostly positive feedback, Amy has received some negative comments and complaints, but she doesn’t let this affect her.
“I have almost all positive comments and reactions from people, I hear about people gossiping and complaining about it though. But that just comes with the territory of doing something out of the ordinary,” Amy said.
“From time to time I get something nasty or aggressive come through, but I just don’t think about it too much and block it out.
“I want to normalise these things that people aren’t used to seeing and showing people that there are other ways to do things.
“Solidarity for any mums who still nurse their toddlers and children should be validated.
“As long as we are both okay with it then there’s nothing wrong with us continuing to do so.
“I have a lot of support from my friends but there are people and family members who think it’s weird, and I get that. It’s okay to not be used to seeing a young child ‘still’ breastfeed, that’s why I talk about it because it does happen and it’s natural. It isn’t wrong, so I just try to normalise it.
“I try and share my story so that people can see it and decide for themselves with all the options presented to them.”
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