Breastfeeding in public is still a very controversial topic around the world, but something that may spark even more debate is the age children should be weaned off breast milk.
We all know that a mother's milk provides nutrition and antibodies to help babies fight of viruses and bacteria. It also lowers a baby's risk of developing allergies, malnutrition, and chronic diseases.
But when should a child stop breastfeeding? When their teeth grow out? When they start eating solid foods? Or when they feel like it?
One mother has received a lot backlash after sharing that she breastfed her daughter for nine years.
Sharon Spink, a mother-of-four, strongly believes in the importance of breast milk and the bond that it creates with a child.
Her belief is so strong that she breastfed her youngest daughter for nearly a decade, until her child decided by herself that she had enough.
But sharing her story to raise awareness about the benefits of extended breastfeeding hasn't been easy. Sharon says she's been called all sorts of horrible things online.
"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," she told The Sun UK.
Sharon had trouble breastfeeding her first three children, so when her daughter Charlotte came around, she wanted to provide all she could for her little girl.
"It's nice for the child to be in control of when they want to wean, rather than forcing the issue," the 50-year-old mother from Northern England shared.
"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."
Charlotte was very vocal about her needs, and even told her mother that she would stop when she was 10 years old.
"It [came] to a natural end earlier, although I would have allowed her to continue for as long as [she] wants to."
Sharon added that she sees breastfeeding as a way to establish "comfort and security," however she can't help but notice all the health benefits.
"When compared to my other three children I would say she is healthier and doesn't get as many coughs, colds and tummy aches."
All in all, Sharon doesn't pay mind to the naysayers and says she feels "empowered" by what her body can achieve and provide.
“I feel like my body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. It’s what breasts are for. We have to support mums. It’s about choice.”
While most mothers breastfeed their child for the first six months to a year, Sharon isn't the only one who believes in extended breastfeeding and naturally weaning off a child from breast milk.
According to experts, there's no specific age that children should stop breastfeeding, it's up to the mother to decide what she thinks is best for her child.
The National Health Service even notes that the World Health Organization recommends all babies to be breastfed for up to two years or longer.
"In a lot of countries it’s perfectly normal to breastfeed older children and they will do it for a lot longer than we do in the west," Sharon added.
[H/T: The Sun UK]