A mum who still breastfeeds her four-year-old son says: “I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.”
Beccy Ashe has shared her experiences of breastfeeding her two children to mark the start of Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Beccy breastfed her daughter, Daisy, until she was five and in school, and is still breastfeeding her four-year-old son, Tobias.
The 35-year-old said her decision to carry on breastfeeding her children as they got older was aided by the emotional bond and closeness breastfeeding can bring, as well as the added nutritional value and health benefits.
Beccy told the Echo : “My son, Tobias, who’s four, still breastfeeds. He’s pretty much down to morning and night now since he started nursery six months ago. With nursery it’s a great way to bond and reconnect at the end of the day.
“It’s so much comfort, it’s nutritious, it’s got pain relief. It’s more than just giving them a feed. The benefits to the mum are big as well.”
As Beccy’s two children got older, she gradually began to wean her daughter off breastfeeding through a slow process of telling her no, that she as a mother didn’t want to do it, and it wasn’t the right time. This slowly continued until her daughter reached a point where she didn’t ask for it for “about six months.”
Beccy said she will most likely do the same thing with her son as he gets older. She said: “I don’t do it as often now, it’s not on demand now he’s older. He has it in the morning when he wakes up and he has some before he goes to bed.
“He asks for more than that in a day but I tell him no. That’s a lesson for him in teaching body autonomy in the sense that this is my body and I get to say what happens to it.”
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Advice in the UK is that women can breastfeed for as long as they and their child want to, and the NHS does not specify a time when women should stop giving their child breast milk.
Despite this, Beccy believes a lot of mums stop breastfeeding sooner than they want to because of “peer pressure”, and what is portrayed as the “societal norm.”
She is keen to educate other mums on the benefits of breastfeeding and encourage them to do whatever feels best for them and their child.
Beccy said: “If you want to ask questions I’m happy to answer them – it’s fine to be curious and ask questions. I’m never faced any negativity really or judgement and, in all honestly, I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks about me, it’s not my problem what they think. I will always advocate for women to breastfeed for as long as they want to.”
Despite championing the benefits of breastfeeding, Beccy said she recognises some of the struggles other mums may have when beginning to breastfeed their child.
In a previous interview, she said: “You get told ‘Here’s your baby, you put them on the boob’ but people don’t realise it’s a learning journey for mum and baby. You have a baby and they learn to walk, they don’t just know how to walk. And it’s the same with breastfeeding, they have to learn to latch properly and feed efficiently.
“I’ve heard from women who’ve said they were told by doctors and midwives they can’t breastfeed, just stop and give them formula, and that’s so disheartening to feel like a failure as a mother and like they’re meant to provide this nutrition for their baby.”
As well as support from mother and baby groups, Beccy also became a peer mentor for Liverpool Bambis, an information and support service for breastfeeding families
She said: “Being able to help other mums was amazing and to share similar stories with other people. Everyone has up and down days, and just to know that everyone has down days the same as you, but then it gets better.
“People don’t realise that even if you struggle breastfeeding, it means you don’t have to stop and use formula. There’s so many other options before you give up, if you like.”
She added: “My advice to new mums would be reach out to every support system you can find, there’s Facebook groups and plenty of websites online.
“Never be afraid to ask any question no matter how silly you think it might be. And never give up on a bad day, because the next day could be so much better.”
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