Mom-of-three reveals why she still breastfeeds her daughter at almost four years old
The issue of breastfeeding has always been a contentious one, particularly when it comes to breastfeeding publically or showing women breastfeeding in the media. Even more contentious is whether or not late breastfeeding (e.g. women giving the child breast milk once it is no longer a baby) is a good idea, and the fact is, although the practice has its defenders, it's far more of a taboo. Yet it's a taboo that mother-of-three Sarah Everett is keen to discuss on her pro-late breastfeeding Instagram account.
Commenting on her pro-breastfeeding account, where she regularly posts pictures of her and her toddler daughter April, Sarah stated: "I share a lot of photos of me feeding April on Instagram – not to shock, but to empower. With Archie, I didn’t even realise I had an option. I weaned at a year because I thought that’s what mums are supposed to do. I never thought I’d be going this long, but I’m so pleased I am. I think other mums would like to, but perhaps feel they can’t, so I want to speak out to show them there is that option there, should they want it."
She added "People think that this is how I feed her all the time, but she eats solid food too. She eats for England, in fact. There’s also this stereotype that it’d make her some fussy, clingy child but she isn’t. She’s very independent and confident. This taboo around breastfeeding makes it feel like it’s a secret without meaning to be – when really, it should be normalised.
"For me, it’s my greatest parenting tool. It helps to calm the kids down, send them to sleep and comfort them. I will really miss it, but I can feel that we don’t have long left. April says things like my milk feels empty, like it’s drying up. It’s sad when I’ve been doing it so long but it feels like time to let go."
"The Instagram is my way of saying – ‘Here I am, this is what I do,’” she said. “There is, for whatever reason, some negative views about later stage breastfeeding but I’ve found it’s a massive comfort for my children and has created feelings of closeness as we snuggle up together ... It doesn’t bother me if someone stops feeding, so it shouldn’t bother someone else that I’ve carried on. We should feel empowered to be able to ignore the pressure and remember it’s our choice."
So, is Sarah right to carry on with her extended breastfeeding - and is it exploitative to put the pictures on social media? If the pictures are making you feel squeamish, then just remember that the World Health Organisation actually recommends that mothers breastfeed their children until at least the age of two, and that the average worldwide weaning age is approximately four years old.