kids

'I still breastfeed my seven-year-old and I’m far from ashamed. In fact, I’m proud.'

We’ve come a long way from the time when women were shamed for choosing to breast or bottle feed their children, but one taboo about breastfeeding still remains: how long it can or should be done.

Adelaide mother of five Lisa Bridger has been breastfeeding for more than 20 years cumulatively, and continues to do so for seven-year-old Chase, and his five-year-old brother, Phoenix.

But over the years, the mum-of-five has been subject to a torrent of abuse online.

Now, in an open letter on Kidspot, Bridger has defended herself from the trolls who labelled her a “paedophile” and “sick” for her decision to continue breastfeeding her two children.

“To the adults who have commented that I am sick and need to get help, there is nothing mentally wrong with me; I am only doing what is natural,” Bridger wrote.

“It’s not a sexual act. I’m not a paedophile which is what quite a few have suggested.”

Speaking to ABC Radio Adelaide, Bridger described the abuse and bullying she’s received online from trolls.

“Online and in private messages I’ve had that I’m a paedophile, I need my children removed from my care and given to a family that will respect them and love them properly,” she said.

“It can’t be abuse when it’s not sexual,” she added

“It’s offering them comfort, it offers them security, it offers them a way of calming down.”

In an interview screened on Sunrise back in June, the 46-year-old mum attempted to explain her decision to breastfeed her primary school-aged children, who, she explained, are both on the autism spectrum.

According to Bridger, that’s one of the main reasons she continues to feed her sons in this way.

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“I can’t get Chase to take any sort of medication. My milk makes melatonin”, Bridger told the morning show, explaining that the melatonin assists to calm her children down.

Bridger is perfectly comfortable with her choice, feeding the boys in public regularly, as is her right as a mother to do. The mum assured viewers that the boys are also comfortable with the arrangement, and view it as perfectly natural.

“When I had my first it was just natural. He latched on and that was it. No one ever told me there was a cut off age and I didn’t know about the WHO guidelines. They requested and I gave; it just worked,” she explained.

It seems that the only people uncomfortable with her decision are social media trolls, who have accused Bridger of committing “child abuse”.

“Anyone feeding a child beyond a year gets accused of child abuse, pornography, damaging their health and told that if they walk and talk they don’t need it. How is respecting their needs abuse? You can’t breastfeed a piranha,” she said.

Bridger also defended her choice to feed directly from her breasts, rather than dispense milk into a cup.

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Sunrise’s resident General Practitioner, Dr. Ginni Mansberg, was also interviewed, and commented that while the situation was “unusual”, she wouldn’t discourage the mother from her choice.

Bridger explained further: “I respect my children. Their needs come before a stranger out in the public.”

The video segment quoted statistics from the Australian National Infant Feeding Survey, which show that 96 percent of mums initiate breastfeeding, but only 15 percent continue after six months. Dr. Mansberg was keen to stress that it is a mother’s right to choose.

As for Bridger, in her experience, breastfeeding is working for her.

“They’ve never had any antibiotics. My milk gives them calcium and iron, and lines the gut well. It helps prevent SIDS, it helps prevent breast cancer,” she said.

Bridger is determined to let her boys wean naturally, at their own pace – which she expects will happen for Chase as his adult teeth come in, because even now, as she explained, “his latch is getting harder and harder to obtain.”

When did you stop breastfeeding your children? (Please treat our comments section like a dinner party – be respectful and polite.)

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