When it comes to breastfeeding it can nearly feel like everyone has opinions, especially around when is an appropriate time to wean.
Australian mum Lisa Bridger is not planning on weaning any time soon- even though her son is now 7-years-old.
The mum-of-five first started her breastfeeding journey over 20 years ago, so at this stage she's pretty much a pro. At the moment, she's tandem feeding her 7-year-old along with his younger brother. All their other siblings were weaned between the ages of four and five.
"I never really had a breastfeeding goal in mind, I just went along for the ride, I’ve always followed my children’s lead," she said speaking to CafeMom.
Chase has autism and Bridger claims that nursing him helps with this. While he was only diagnosed two years ago, Bridger claimed they she saw the signs, so continued breastfeeding as a form of comfort.
"It’s not so much the breast milk but the connection, comfort and security he gains from the act of breastfeeding," she explains. "I don’t respond to pumping so that was never a consideration."
She also goes on to say that Chase doesn't relay on medicine to help with his autism as breast milk has the same benefits.
“Breastfeeding has prevented him having to go on to medication because it calms him down. It calms and grounds him and is a fantastic way to reconnect too,” she told Kidspot. “We tried melatonin but it didn't work as I couldn't get him to swallow it. He gets melatonin from my breastmilk. I can shorten the meltdowns by feeding him. It is a great tool to help with autism.”
Chase mainly nurses at night but the option will be available for him as long as he wants it.
"I’ll continue until he’s ready, he’s already lost for milk teeth, his adult molars and beginning to erupt so his latch will change preventing a proper latch," she reveals. "He mostly only nurses to sleep these days, but occasionally when stressed."
Bridger is the first to admit that her decision to extend breastfeeding so long has drawn plenty of negative attention.
"Some kids have blankets and dummies and mine just feed ... Anyone feeding a child beyond a year gets accused of child abuse, pornography, damaging their health and told that if they walk and talk they don’t need it. How is respecting their needs abuse?" she asked Kidspot. "I try to educate people who say negative things to me. Bottle feeding has become so normal that the whole idea of breastfeeding grosses people out. It is normal and okay, and I am not harming my kids. Natural term weaning is four to seven years."
She blames society for placing pressure on mums to wean before they're ready.
"For those that don’t understand, its society that has put an arbitrary age on weaning from the breast, bottles have become so normal that people struggle with natural term breastfeeding, it’s simply mothering through breastfeeding, being respectful and responsive to the needs and wants of my children. I just hope that others can feel comfortable nursing to their time and not feel they need to hide something so natural."