Lorna Simpson, 35, is a singer and songwriter as well as a hospice volunteer. She lives in South East London with her daughter Skylah-Faith, who is now aged six. Here she shares her heartwarming story of long-term breastfeeding...
"From a young age, I’ve been maternal. I grew up in a family surrounded by children and I’ve always loved babies. I knew I wanted to have a baby before my 30th birthday and actually conceived on my 28th birthday.
From the moment I knew I was pregnant there was no question I would breastfeed for as long as possible. My mother breastfed me, stopping after four months as she said it was so painful. But I wanted that special bond that comes with breastfeeding. No matter how painful it was, I was determined that processed milk would not be for me.
When Sky was born by emergency C-section in October 2015 the colostrum (first milk) took a few hours to come in and the nurses kept bringing in bottled milk to feed her. But she didn’t want it.
I kept massaging my breast, hoping that the milk would start and eventually, I lay Sky on me and she naturally went for my nipple and started feeding. The sensation was weird because she was sucking so hard and I’d been prepared for pain, but there was none.
I absolutely loved it. It felt so special to be able to feed my baby in the most natural way possible and she seemed to love it as much as me. She was a hungry baby and although I tried to put her equally on both breasts, she always preferred my left for some reason.
My partner at the time – Sky’s father – said it was beautiful to see me breastfeeding her this way, although we joked that he wasn’t getting to see my breasts in the way he was used to seeing them!
Everyone was very encouraging about the way I was feeding her. The health visitors were particularly interested in me as a breastfeeding mother and I remember thinking: ‘This can’t be THAT unusual’ but apparently it was.
I realise some women find it very difficult to breastfeed but some choose not to. It’s a very personal choice, but I always think it’s strange why more mothers would choose to bottle feed when you have a free, ready-made supply at hand. I daren’t think of how many thousands of pounds I’ve saved on formula.
When Sky started on solids, breastfeeding was still a big part of our routine although she was eating baby food as well. But my milk was still flowing like a fountain and she’d regularly have feeds throughout the day and when I put her to bed at night. She would often sleep on my breast.
We even sleep together now, although we’re due to move soon when she will have her own room.
When Sky reached the age of three, we were still breastfeeding although she treated it more like a ‘snack’ than anything else. She’d be running around and playing and would suddenly feel hungry.
I could be sitting in a café having a coffee with a friend or would be sitting in the park watching her play and it wouldn’t stop her putting her index finger down my top and pulling out my breast.
I tried to be as discreet as possible, sometimes covering her head with a blanket as she fed. I didn’t want people to think I was flashing but no one ever said anything rude to me. Most people smiled or looked away.
You hear stories of people tutting at breastfeeding mothers. If it had happened to me, my answer would have been that no one ever tutted when I was wearing low-cut tops and had a lot of cleavage on show, so what’s the difference?
Occasionally people would say things like: ‘Oh my God, how old is she?’ or suggest that my milk didn’t really have the nutrients for a child her age. But I’d done my research. I knew that my milk was still providing some excellent nutrition.
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By the time she was at nursery and then school, we used the breastfeeding only for occasional daily snacks but I still wanted to continue as long as I could.
It was Sky who made the decision to stop. She reached her 5th birthday and when I put her to bed, I asked her if she wanted some and she turned the other way in bed. I asked if she was ok and she said she didn’t want it.
It broke my heart. Suddenly she was feeling self-conscious and although over the next few months I kept trying to instigate it, she hardly ever wanted it and that’s when I realised we had to stop. She was five and a half when she had her last feed.
I’m so sad that that chapter of our life is over but I’ve started to accept it. I realise I couldn’t let it go, because it was a comfort to me too. But I’m glad that we did it for so long, giving her all the best nutrition and antibodies. If I had another baby, I’m absolutely sure I’d do it again."