A mum who shares videos of herself breastfeeding her children has defended her right to continue nursing her four-year-old daughter despite being criticised by online trolls.
Leanne Allerton, 35 from Grimsby has built up a loyal YouTube following after vlogging about her breastfeeding journey.
Part of that journey has included continuing to breast feed her children into toddlerhood and beyond, something that the mum is keen to normalise.
Her latest post about nursing her four-year-old daughter, Poppy has been viewed almost one million times.
But while many have praised the mum for raising awareness about normalising extended breastfeeding, the video has also received some cruel comments from trolls who claim Poppy, who starts school in September, is too old to be breastfed.
“How do you expect your child to grow and prosper socially when they are still relying on your boobs for sustenance?” one viewer wrote.
“It’s a pity because the child is being taught total dependency rather than to independently soothe and feel self-sufficient,” another added.
But Leanne isn’t going to let the comments stop her doing what she feels is right for her family.
“I post breastfeeding videos when I feel like talking about things because there will always be someone out there who is going through the same thing,” Leanne says.
“You get a lot of nice suggestions but also a lot of abuse – those I tend to block and delete.”
Though Leanne has been breastfeeding her children for around eight years now, it hasn’t always come easy and the mum-of-six has battled through pregnancy aversions and dry milk spells to be able to continue nursing her son Georgie, now five, until he was four.
“With Georgie I just spoke with him, explaining he was becoming a big boy and it was time for him to stop,” Leanne says about when she decided to stop feeding Georgie.
“But even now he jokes with me, saying ‘can I have baby milk, mummy?'”
For Leanne the breastfeeding bond should only be broken when the child is old enough to understand what is happening, but towards the end of a child’s breastfeeding period, the mum believes it should be limited to bed time.
“Now when Poppy often asks for “titu” I say “wait until bed-time and she is normally fine with that unless she is absolutely exhausted.
“There was a point when she turned three that she started dropping her mid-morning sleep and she started dropping her feed as well.”
And Leanne doesn’t agree that extended breastfeeding leads to children being overly attached to their mother.
“People say to me that Poppy relies on me too much but it is not about that,” she explains.
“It’s our time and it benefits her. It is just our routine and our life and it’s just the way it is.”
The mum also has a response to those who claim children who breast feed for longer aren’t as confident as their bottle fed counterparts.
“I think it’s absolute rubbish that breastfed children are less confident or independent,” she continues.
“People who say that have not experienced what we experience – I just think it helps settle kids down.”
But the mum does admit she will miss the breastfeeding bond when Poppy stops completely.
“The oxytocin chemical that releases while you are breastfeeding does make you happy and there will be a change in my mood when that stops,” she explains.
“But it has also been a massive part of our lives and when they stop it is another part of your babies growing up.”
Despite the fact that the NHS recommend breastfeeding for about the first six months (26 weeks) of a baby’s life and the World Health Organisation for two years, extended breastfeeding is often considered to be a controversial subject with many women made to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding a toddler or preschooler in public.
Speaking exclusively to Yahoo Style about the negativity surrounding extended breastfeeding Leanne says: “The World Health Organisation recommends children are breastfeed for at least two years, so anyone shaming a mum for feeding this long really hasn’t done their research.”
“In the UK we have the negative phrase ‘extended breastfeeding’ but in most cultures, it’s just called breastfeeding as there is no set time to stop,” she continues.
“It’s your body, your choice – or more importantly your child’s choice. Children will stop naturally when they are ready and in the meantime, you know you are giving them the best start in life with natural nutrition, nurturing and bonding. Anyone criticising this really has boobed.”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves Leanne.
Leanne is part of the Channel Mum network and be seen vlogging here.
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