Mum explains why she still breastfeeds her almost 4-year-old daughter

A mum-of-three says she still breastfeeds her daughter at almost four years old, and feels there is too much pressure on mums to wean early. Sarah Everett, 32, is an advocate of what’s known as natural term breastfeeding – where the child decides for themselves when to wean...


A mum-of-three says she still breastfeeds her daughter at almost four years old, and feels there is too much pressure on mums to wean early.

Sarah Everett, 32, is an advocate of what’s known as natural term breastfeeding – where the child decides for themselves when to wean.

Looking back, the photographer, of Colchester, Essex, said she felt societal pressure to switch her eldest Archie, eight, on to cows’ milk too early and now wishes she’d breastfed longer – particularly as she’s still nursing daughter April just weeks shy of her fourth birthday.

Sarah explained: ‘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.’ Before her children were even born, Sarah knew she wanted to breastfeed.

With her first, Archie, who arrived in March 2010, she gave herself an initial target of three months.

She continued: ‘We did have some issues with sore nipples and struggling to latch on. At points, I wanted to quit but Steve spurred me on because he knew it was important to me.’

When Archie turned one, and Sarah was three months pregnant with his brother, Luke, she decided to stop, having convinced herself she had to after reading various parenting books and blogs.

She said: ‘I regret that now. You have it so drummed into you though, that one is this big cut-off point for breastfeeding.’ With Luke, however, things were entirely different and, as he was an easier feeder, Sarah decided to go for as long as she could, rather than impose limits.

Eventually, he decided to wean himself at two years, three months old. Once again, Sarah was pregnant at the time, meaning that, for the past nine years, she’s either been expecting, breastfeeding or both.

‘April, the baby of the family, arrived in July 2014,’ she said. ‘This time, I knew I wanted to breastfeed until two because I’d got that far with Luke.

‘We’re still going though, and she’s four in a few weeks. ‘For the past year or so, she’s only fed at bedtime and it’s been gradually winding down. ‘Now, she’ll do it for about five to seven minutes, like she’s having a little drink.

It’s a comfort for her, and she especially does it if she’s very tired or poorly. She says the milk ‘tastes like mummy’ which is very sweet.’ Sarah also believes that there are health benefits to breastfeeding past the one year mark.

She says April is rarely ill, even when the rest of the family have been struck down with a sickness bug. Sarah said: ‘Literally everybody else got it. ‘It may be that I’d built up antibodies and passed them on to her.’

On another occasion, whilst suffering from terrible gastroenteritis – an infection of the gut – the only thing Luke could keep down was his mum’s milk, without which he’d have been on a drip.

Now by speaking out, Sarah hopes she can dispel some of the myths around later stage breastfeeding. She continued: ‘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.’

Sarah said her husband, Steve, fully backs her and also believes natural term weaning should be the norm.

In a bid to empower other mums and hit back against the stigma surrounding breastfeeding older children, she is set to launch a photography series called Nourish Me.

Her Instagram already full of snaps of her nursing her own daughter, she plans to show other women feeding their children. While she is aware being so candid may open her up to criticism, she hopes she will also help reassure other mothers.

‘The Instagram is my way of saying – ‘Here I am, this is what I do,’ she said.

Source: Metro.co.uk



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