This mom still breastfeeds her two boys – aged five and six – before and after school and says she won’t stop until they decide it’s time on their own.
Sheryl Wynne, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England insists that breastfeeding her school-age sons is completely normal as it has cemented a lifelong bond between them and made them “closer”.
The 39-year-old nurses both Riley, six, and Mylo, five, before school, in the evening and throughout the night.
Sheryl claims ‘mommy milk’ is the ‘ultimate parenting tool’ as it helps calm the children and comforts them when they’re upset or ill.
However, the mom-of-two admits she does receive negative comments from strangers and even family members, who question if the ‘way her children behave’ is anything to do with them being breastfed still – but Sheryl says ‘that’s children’.
Although she’d originally planned to stop breastfeeding the boys when Riley was three, she wants them to be part of the decision – and he has said he won’t stop until he’s ten.
Sheryl, a hypnobirthing teacher and doula, said: “I think about when I’ll stop all of the time.”
“It’s never felt right to end it unnecessarily. It’s what they’re asking for and it’s biologically normal even if it’s not in society.”
“We started the conversation when Riley was three when they would stop having mommy milk and Riley said when he’s ten and I told him there’s no chance.”
“The choice isn’t just mine, it’s a relationship because it’s something we do together.”
“It’s not like I don’t have a choice, a lot of the time they ask for it and I’ll tell them to get off.”
“I do wonder if they’d just stay on there all night.”
“It’s made us closer. It’s the fact they know they can come to me and be comforted any time.”
“We can do that without breastfeeding, a lot of people who aren’t breastfeeding will still respond to that but it’s part of my toolbox.”
“It’s formed part of our relationship and that’s my main drive for continuing breastfeeding.”
Despite negative comments from family and friends, Sheryl sees breastfeeding as a way to connect with her sons, even using it to comfort them in the school playground.
Sheryl said: “It’s about comfort. If they’re ill, that’s where they want to be to help them calm down but we don’t live in a society that’s supportive of that after infancy which is why we don’t see it.”
“They want to be with me and snuggle with me even when they aren’t breastfeeding.”
“I’ve been pretty lucky in that I haven’t had negative comments from strangers but family members and people I know have asked if I think I should stop.”
“They question whether the way my children behave is anything to do with them being breastfed. They’re hard work but that’s children.”
“People think they’re experts in other people’s children but I’m not doing it blind even though I am following my instincts in many ways.”
“Riley and Mylo pick up on people’s opinions. My eldest wouldn’t ask for it when we’re out because he knows other people will see but he will behind closed doors but my youngest is confident.”
“Before Mylo went into preschool he was asking for mummy milk in the playground in the morning.”
“He took me to the bench and I had to dig deep into myself. I wanted to tell him we weren’t doing it there because people could see but I didn’t want to pass my anxieties onto him.”
Sheryl says was determined to breastfeed Mylo because she struggled to nurse Riley following a difficult birth.
She added that breastfeeding helped her to overcome the trauma of giving birth and strengthened her connection with her sons.
Sheryl tandem fed the pair until they were too big to be fed at the same time.
Sheryl said: “Breastfeeding helped me to keep that connection going and I had it in my head that I wanted to tandem breastfeed. It felt magical and empowering to be sustaining two babies at the same time.”
“I had a traumatic birth and because of that experience I felt like a failure. I felt like I hadn’t done it right so I needed the breastfeeding relationship to succeed.”
“It wasn’t until I started breastfeeding Riley that I learned what it was about. It was a lot harder than I thought.”
“It wasn’t physically bad but emotionally it was hard. It might have been easier if I’d known more about it.”
“It’s hard to give all of yourself to this little person and not give yourself a break.”
“To get to where I am now couldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone on to have my healing birth with Mylo. Everything changed after that.”
“When I was pregnant with Mylo I thought I didn’t have long left with Riley because the milk had reduced but when I had Mylo and the milk came Riley was like ‘oh wow’.”
“When I was feeling full of milk I would ask Riley to breastfeed and he would help with that.”
Sheryl hopes she can dispel some of the myths surrounding natural term breastfeeding, the practice of nursing until the child chooses to wean.
Sheryl said: “I don’t feel like I ever made the decision to breastfeed. It’s what I always imagined doing and it felt quite natural.”
“I remember playing with dolls while little and pretending to breastfeed them because I thought that’s what you do and that’s where milk comes from. That’s what I wanted to do.
“It was a really nice experience for all three of us to do that together. Riley would reach out and stroke Mylo’s head or hold his hand and that’s how I felt it was supposed to be and I was a lot more confident with my own body.”
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