LONDON (CBSDC) – When Sharon Spink breastfeeds her daughter in public, it often draws attention.
“People will often stare or shake their heads when I feed Charlotte in public. Sometimes they’ll turn their backs or move seats, and actually criticize me as a mother” she tells The Daily Mail.
That’s because Charlotte is 5 years old. But Spink says the stares don’t bother her.
“I’ve heard people say it’s weird and it’s child abuse verging on pedophilia. It hurts but I’m confident in what I’m doing,” Spink said.
The 44-year-old British mother says she feeds her daughter two or three times a day.
“I’ve even breastfed Charlotte in front of her school friends. Children don’t judge. It tends to be adults who do that. But thankfully their parents are all very supportive,” she said.
“I’m not doing anything wrong,” she added.” A mother should be free to do what she thinks is right for her child whether that is formula feeding from birth or breastfeeding indefinitely.”
Spink appeared on Britain’s ITV to say she won’t stop as long as her daughter asks for “mummy milk.”
“It’s her choice.” she said. “It’s her choice to feed and it’s her choice to stop.’
Her husband Paul is supportive although he admits that some of the more public feeds have caused him embarrassment.
Spink has two children with her husband and two adult children from a previous relationship.
She admits her decision to breastfeed the 5-year-old has caused friction with family and friends. “I recently fell out with a close friend who said that my only reason for breastfeeding this long was to keep Charlotte a baby,” she said. “Even my eldest daughter, Sarah, disagrees with what I do but everyone is entitled to their opinion.”
But child care experts warn there is no nutritional benefit for older children.
Social psychologist Dr. Sandra Wheatley tells the Daily Mail breastfeeding a child so long can have lasting consequences. “The potential negative psychological effects on the child far outweigh the positive”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “that babies be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months of life.”
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)