Lifestyle

Mum hits back after being called 'gross' for breastfeeding her five-year-old

Public breastfeeding advocate speaks out after backlash from viral videos

Meet the mum who still breastfeeds her five-year-old and vows to only stop when he wants to - even though trolls claim she is abusing her child.

Lauren McLeod, 29, had her first child, Bowie, in August 2017 and hoped she would breastfeed him until the age of two - as her mum did with her.

But when Bowie turned two, he showed no signs of wanting to give up breastfeeding so the mum continued - even after she had her daughter, Tigerlily, now two, in May 2020.

Now Lauren breastfeeds both of her children - with Bowie feeding three times a week now he is older and Tigerlily feeding 'on-demand'- she feeds however many times she wants through the day.

The mum continues to breastfeed her children as she believes breastmilk to be a strong immunity booster and a great comfort - and has even breastfed her friend's eight-month old so she could look after him.

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Trolls have accused her of child abuse and that she is "gross" - claiming her kids are too old to be breastfed - but she's vowed to only stop when her children want to.

Lauren believes her five-year-old will stop breastfeeding soon but says she will stop at whatever age he wishes to.

Lauren, a doula, from Perth, Western Australia, said: "Breastfeeding beyond infancy is completely normal.

"I never thought I'd be breastfeeding my child aged five but I'm like any other mum doing the best I can for my children.

"It's not weird or sexual, it's completely normal and I will keep going until they want to stop.

"I get upset thinking about when we do stop - it's been a huge part of our lives and I don't think Bowie will keep feeding until six."

Lauren gave birth to Bowie on 10th August 2017 at Fiona Stanley Hospital, Murdoch, Western Australia, and he weighed 9lbs 3oz.

She said: "Both my husband, Anders, 33, and I were breastfed until we were two so that was always the goal.

"We thought he would self-wean by that point but two came and went. He is now five and breastfeeds only at bedtime and a few times a week."

Trolls have attacked Lauren online, accusing her of being "gross" and one even called her an "abuser".

"Occasionally people will say something really mean, coming from a lack of education but nobody has ever said anything to my face.

"Someone accused me of not feeding him food - of course we do.

"I believe we're doing the right thing for us.

"It's a beautiful thing for us to bond and reconnect after a long day." Lauren said.

On 27th May 2020, Lauren gave birth to her second child, Tigerlily, at 7.55am, who weighed 10lbs 1oz.

She said: "I had to set more boundaries for myself when Tigerlily was born because I was breastfeeding both of them - I started to feed Bowie less.

"I've been really lucky to have easy breastfeeding journeys and I've had no major struggles.

"Tigerlily doesn't feed through the night anymore but she feeds on-demand in the day.

"It's a nice comfort for her."

Lauren made the decision to night wean Tigerlily after she experienced feelings of being 'touched-out' - when you are overwhelmed from being touched too often.

"I'm sure there will come a time where I need to set more boundaries, but Tigerlily has never taken a bottle so at night time if she wakes, she has water or cow milk from a sippy cup," Lauren said.

"Bowie took express breast milk from the bottle when I went back to work one morning a week which made things slightly easier."

Lauren has also breastfed her friend's baby who won't take bottles when she has babysat them.

She said: "I've breastfed my friend's baby a couple of times, it was totally fine.

"It was a little strange feeding a baby who wasn't mine, but not in a bad way.

"It felt so natural, and it was really nice to help my friend as he was only eight months old, and she didn't want to leave him with anyone else."

The mum-of-two believes society should normalise breastfeeding each other's babies.

"A lot of breastfed babies won't take bottles and it makes it harder for breastfeeding people to go back to work.

"It's like that saying, it takes a village, and it's a really beautiful way to look at it.

"People have been doing this since the dawn of time, grandparents would feed their grandchildren.

"I've donated a lot of express milk to parents who need it."

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