This mom still breastfeeds her five-year-old daughter and believes it stops her from getting sick
When a new baby is born, it is generally recommended that the mother breastfeed the infant until it is at least six months old. Not all mothers choose to follow this practice, but, of the 73 per cent that do, the vast majority switch to formula milk and other liquids by the time the child is a year old.
Emma Shardlow Hudson, a 29-year-old mom-of-two from England, is not part of that majority. In fact, she's far from it, as she still breastfeeds her five-year-old daughter on a daily basis.
As you'd expect, Hudson faces a lot of criticism for her actions - but that hasn't deterred her at all. On the contrary, she believes that regularly feeding her daughter, Alex, has built up her immune system better than other children's, and that continuing to feed her at such an advanced age is beneficial to her health.
"When she started nursery there were quite a few bugs going around and she had nothing in comparison to her classmates," Hudson said. "My kids are rarely ill, and I’m almost 100% positive that that is because of the antibodies in the milk."
And there is a nurturing aspect to the act of breastfeeding, too.
"[Alex has] always been a comforted baby and wants milk when she’s upset but I do think there’s a lot about the antibodies which is really good for her. It’s nice for me to be able to provide that for her," Hudson explained;
"My husband, Stuart, is quite happy with it all. He can see it helps her so he’s like whatever’s best for her and you, which is what it is. He’s not really got any massive opinion on it so long as everyone is happy. Obviously, he knows the benefits of it. He’s really supportive of it."
But not everybody is so supportive.
"Some people just tut and others actually go “ugh” and walk away," Hudson said. "It’s not happened often which is amazing."
"I have friends who don’t breastfeed in public anymore because they’re that scared which is horrible. It’s only happened three or four times in those five years but if someone is not as confident as I’ve got over time with it they would probably find it quite offputting.
"I’ve had more [positive] comments than the negative ones but you remember the negative ones more – they make more of an impact, unfortunately. It’s something that should be so normal and it’s what breasts are for ultimately."
Hudson claims that, when she first had Alex, she had no idea how long she was meant to breastfeed for, and actually struggled to feed her baby naturally in the beginning. After seeing the benefits of breastmilk, however, she's decided to stick to a routine of feeding the five-year-old twice a day: once before school and once in the evening.
"I don’t see breastfeeding as something to be embarrassed about," she said.
"It completely equalises everyone because all women regardless of background can all do the same thing.
"Lots of people stop breastfeeding at three months because they get recommended to stop, which I think is a shame. It’s a completely personal choice but so many people who want to breastfeed get told they can’t when, with the right support, they probably could.
"It’s having that all-round support and the confidence to keep going that has been so important to me."
Hudson does not have any immediate plans to stop Alex from breastfeeding but thinks that she will naturally stop the habit on her own. Meanwhile, she plans to continue feeding her son, two-year-old Ollie, for the foreseeable future.