Mother of four branded 'pedophile' for breastfeeding daughter till she was 9 years old
Sharon Spink made the decision to breastfeed her 9-year-old daughter until she 'weaned out' of the process.
A mother of four has been branded a "pedophile" for breastfeeding her 9-year-old daughter until earlier this year.
Sharon Spink insisted on breastfeeding her daughter Charlotte and believes that it is completely normal and has helped cement a lifelong bond and connection between mother and daughter.
Sharon revealed how her daughter had been breastfed for almost a decade and made the decision to stop around two months ago on her own. Spink is a supporter of the natural term 'weaning' and claims that her daughter is healthy and rarely falls sick all because of the beneficial properties of "mummy milk".
Sharon has received a lot of backlash and criticism for continuing to breastfeed her child to the extent where she has been accused of child abuse. The 50-year-old maintains that she would like to break down the stigma and barriers attached to breastfeeding older children. As reported by The Sun, she said, "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," she continued.
Spink added how her daughter's decision to stop breastfeeding gradually made it easier. "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. We haven’t had a discussion about her not doing it anymore. I just hope when she’s older she’ll remember that feeling of comfort and security it gave her rather than it being about feeding," she explained.
"We have such a close bond and I’m convinced it’s because of breastfeeding her for so long. 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 added.
Sharon shared how she was very determined to breastfeed Charlotte given that she struggled to do it with her other three children Kim, 30, Sarah, 28, and Isabel, 12. Last year, Sharon qualified as a breastfeeding counselor and said, "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'" she revealed.
Up until the age of four or five, Sharon started breastfeeding Charlotte at home and said, "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. Obviously, there have been the negatives – usually from typical keyboard warriors who post their opinion".
"I have been called every name under the sun. I’ve been told it’s child abuse, I’ve been called a pedophile 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," she added.
All of Sharon's friends and family have been very supportive of her decision.
"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," she continued.