An Australian mom has opened up about why she continues to breastfeed her 5-year-old son.
Mom-of-two Lauren McLeod has amassed a following on social media for posting about her real and raw experiences with breastfeeding her two children.
The 29-year-old has faced backlash for continuing to breastfeed her five-year-old son, Bowie, beyond what she says society considers the “normal” time frame.
She has even been called “sick” and labeled an “abuser,” which she says usually comes down to misinformation and misconceptions surrounding breastfeeding.
Lauren says due women’s breasts being hypersexualized in modern times, many forget the true purpose of the body part – to feed children.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more, humans were biologically designed to wean from the breast between 2-7 years of age,” said Lauren, who has worked as a doula – a trained, non-medical companion for birthing women – for the past two years.
“I’ve been called a ‘sick nut,’ I’ve been told I’m disgusting, weird, gross, selfish, abusing my children, the list goes on.
“But I honestly don’t care, because I’m doing what’s best for my children, just like the parents who make different parenting choices are.
“Breastfeeding a five-year-old may not be common in today’s society, but there is nothing ‘weird’ or ’gross’ about it. I’m literally just feeding and comforting my child.
“Breasts can be sexual and that’s fine, but breastfeeding is very separate to that.
“The fact that people associate the two, to me, that’s weird. I don’t know why you’d sexualize such a natural act between a mother and child.”
Lauren says that while she did not “plan” on breastfeeding her son until he was five years old, it is simply what has worked best for them on their parenting journey.
“When I had Bowie, in my mind I thought, I will breastfeed him until two years of age,” she said.
“I thought, well that’s the World Health Organization’s recommendation, so maybe that’s what I should do too.
“But the years went on, and it was a positive experience, so we just kept going. I had no issues and didn’t feel this pressure to suddenly stop.”
The mom explained that there are many benefits to breastfeeding, both for her and her child.
“Bowie will just breastfeed before bed now, and it’s a wonderful bonding experience for us two,” she said.
“Milk is full of antibodies and nutritional support. It’s really great for supporting his brain development.
“There are some beautiful benefits for me as well, it can lower your risk of some cancers and release of oxytocin every time you breastfeed.”
With the mom being so open about her breastfeeding journey online, she admits that she leaves herself open to all sorts of reactions to her content.
But thankfully, she said most of the feedback she receives is positive – however, there are those who take the time our of their days to leave nasty comments.
“The majority of people on my social media pages are very supportive and lovely,” she said.
“But of course, you always get people who have an opinion.
“This is why I’m sharing my story, as it’s the most natural thing in the world and shouldn’t be an issue.
“It breaks my heart when I see other moms getting a hard time. It’s such an individual thing, and everyone is on their own path and journey.
“As parents, we all just do the best we can for our children.”
As for the future of breastfeeding her children, Lauren says she will let Bowie self-wean when the time is right.
“Every mother and child’s breastfeeding journey is different,” she said.
“For the moment, I’m totally fine for Bowie to continue breastfeeding for as long as he needs to.
“At the moment, he is breastfeeding once a day, right before bed.
“That might change, but for now it is what is working for us. I always say, just take it one feed at a time.”