“I’ve been called a ‘sick nut.’” A Young Mom Gets Hate Online for Breastfeeding Her 5-Year-Old Son
Australian mother-of-two, Lauren McLeod, lived an ordinary life like many others. On her social media pages, she shared her daily motherhood routine with her followers. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? Except that one day the entire world found out about her. All because the blogger touched upon a sore subject for many — breastfeeding. And the big question is, until what age is it appropriate?
In 2017, Lauren gave birth to her first child Bowie. She planned to breastfeed him until he was two years old, following her mother’s advice. However, when her son turned two, the boy didn’t want to give up the food he was so used to, and the mom didn’t insist on it. Later, in 2020, she gave birth to her daughter Tigerlily. Since then, she’s been breastfeeding two children.
When McLeod shared her experience online, thousands of people started commenting on the posts. And some of the comments were far from positive. The woman, who is still nursing her 5-year-old son, was heavily criticized. Online users wrote that she was perverting the very notion of breastfeeding: “I’ve been called a ‘sick nut,’ I’ve been told I’m disgusting, weird, gross, selfish, abusing my children, the list goes on.”
The truth from Lauren’s perspective
Lauren says that although she hadn’t planned to breastfeed her son for so long, over time, it became the best decision she’s made as a parent. She started looking for information on the World Health Organization guidelines and found no evidence that breastfeeding after any age posed any harm to the child’s physical or mental health.
In fact, the more she delved into the subject, the more she became convinced that she was in the right. Breastfeeding turns out to be beneficial to both the mother and the child’s health: “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 oxytocin every time you breastfeed.”
According to McLeod, she was prepared for the negativity online because everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. She believes that many people have simply forgotten the original purpose of a woman’s body. And so they judge her choices. But in this way, says Lauren, she is just bonding with her son, and there is nothing weird or abnormal about it.
“It’s a beautiful thing for us to bond and reconnect after a long day. I’ve been really lucky to have easy breastfeeding journeys, and I’ve had no major struggles,” shares McLeod with the press. After her sudden fame, the Australian frequently receives them in her home. For the blogger, though, it’s an opportunity to be heard by even more people.
Lauren is committed to helping women not only through her words but through her actions as well. For a while, she also breastfed her friend’s baby, as her friend had to go away for a few days. The blogger says that breastfeeding someone else’s baby seemed strange at first, but over time it became something completely natural: “People have been doing this since the dawn of time, grandparents would feed their grandchildren.”
What the experts say
We started wondering what scientists had to say on this subject —is it true that there is no set age at which children should stop being breastfed? It turns out Lauren was right. The experts really don’t put a clear limit on it. They advise breastfeeding babies for at least the first 12 months of life, starting to introduce complementary foods at six months. Beyond that, it’s the parents’ choice.
Doctors also point out that breast milk has a positive impact on the child’s health, protecting them from many illnesses. And the breastfeeding process itself is extremely beneficial for the mother.
Why Lauren is talking about it
It’s fair to say that negative comments don’t account for one hundred percent of the response Lauren gets from her followers. Many users like the vivacious mom-of-two and her attitude to parenting. In addition, she provides support to a large number of women who have problems with breastfeeding.
Lauren gives them practical advice and shares her mothering secrets. Ultimately, the blogger would like to influence society as a whole by changing their perception of the 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.”
When does Lauren plan to stop breastfeeding her son? Her answer: when Bowie is ready for it. “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 and 7 years of age,” says the mom. And when it does happen, she’s sure to share her new experience with her followers.
Up to what age do you think it is acceptable to breastfeed your child?