A proud mum who still breastfeeds her five-year-old before and after school each day claims her milk is so good it has stopped her children getting ill.
Emma Hudson breastfeeds her daughter Alex, five, and son Ollie, two, in between other meals and sometimes in tandem – feeding both children at once.
“It’s one of the biggest achievements of my life for sure, being able to nurture a child with my own body,” the 29-year-old said.
“It’s a completely selfless thing to do, but it’s probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life too.
“Before Alex was born, I wasn’t sure if it was a normal thing to breastfeed for so long.
“But it wasn’t even a conscious decision to keep feeding for so long – I just thought why stop when it’s good for them? My attitude has changed over time.”
When Alex started nursery, her mum claims her daughter didn’t pick up any of the same coughs and sniffles the other children developed and credits it to her breastmilk.
“My kids are rarely ill, and I’m almost 100% positive that that is because of the antibodies in the milk,” she said.
Alex usually breastfeeds once in the morning and once in the evening and although the little girl can go days without milk, she will always want some when she needs comforting.
The NHS recommends all babies are exclusively breastfed until at least six months old, while 73 per cent of new mums choose to nurse from birth.
However, by the time a baby reaches their first birthday, just one in every 200 babies is still being breastfed.
“She’s always been a comforted baby and wants milk when she’s upset but I do think there’s a lot about the antibodies which is really good for her.
“It’s nice for me to be able to provide that for her,” the mum said.
Alex is in kindy at school but to Emma’s knowledge is the only child who still breastfeeds.
She has had more positive reactions to breastfeeding in public than negative but says that it is the negative reactions that have put some of her friends off doing it out of the house.
“Some people just tut and others actually go ‘ugh’ and walk away. It’s not happened often which is amazing,” Emma said.
“It’s only happened three or four times in those five years but if someone is not as confident as I’ve got over time with it they would probably find it quite off-putting.
“Apparently that old phrase ‘if you’ve got nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all’ doesn’t apply to breastfeeding.
“I’ve had more [positive] comments than the negative ones but you remember the negative ones more – they make more of an impact unfortunately.”
The breastfeeding bond is something that Emma has inherited from her own mother, who breastfed her children until each was two years old.
“Lots of people stop breastfeeding at three months because they get recommended to stop, which I think is a shame,” she said.
“It’s having that all-round support and the confidence to keep going that has been so important to me.”
But although she finds breastfeeding a breeze now, she struggled when she began.
“I did struggle to breastfeed at first. The midwives are amazing about what they do but they do not have the time to give comprehensive breastfeeding support,” Emma, who gave birth to Alex when she was 24, said.
“Without that I wouldn’t have been feeding her.”
Now Emma has hosted events such as the Global Latch On which encourages women to sit together and nurse at the same time, while providing support to those struggling.
Breast milk is thought to reduce a baby’s risk of infections, type 2 diabetes, obesity and childhood leukemia, according the NHS.
New mums also benefit from breastfeeding, which reduces their risk of breast and ovarian cancer, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
Emma thinks that Alex will eventually stop breastfeeding on her own.
“Quite a lot of children have weaned by this point but Alex has always been a massive comfort feeder though.
“She’s continuous because it’s not just for the milk – but I do think she’ll stop soon, she’s heading that way.”
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