Emma said she believes her breast milk has stopped Alex from picking up bugs at school
A mum who still breastfeeds her five-year-old daughter before and after school every day claims her milk is so good it has stopped her children getting ill.
Emma Shardlow Hudson, 29, breastfeeds daughter Alex and son Ollie, two, in between other meals and sometimes in tandem.
When Alex started nursery, Emma claims her daughter didn’t pick up any of the same coughs and sniffles as the other children and put it down to her breastmilk.
Alex usually breastfeeds once in the morning and once in the evening and while 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.
Emma, from Grimsby, Lincs, said: “It’s one of the biggest achievements of my life for sure, being able to nurture a child with my own body.
“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 she started nursery there were quite a few bugs going around and she had nothing in comparison to her classmates.
“My kids are rarely ill and I’m almost 100 per cent positive that that is because of the antibodies in the milk.
“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.
“My husband Stuart [who is a chef] is quite happy with it all. He can see it helps her so he’s like, whatever’s best for her and you, which is what it is.
“He’s not really got any massive opinion on it so long as everyone is happy. Obviously he knows the benefits of it. He’s really supportive of it.”
Alex is in reception class at school but to Emma’s knowledge she is the only child who still breastfeeds.
Emma has had more positive reactions to breastfeeding in public than negative but admits 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,” she said.
“It’s not happened often which is amazing. I have friends who don’t breastfeed in public anymore because they’re that scared, which is horrible.
“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 have had people come over when I’m feeding the babies in their sling and people come over and go, ‘Oh they’re so lovely, are they sleeping?’ and then go ‘Oh, are you feeding? That’s lovely,’ which is really nice. Then they have a nice reaction so that’s the flipside.
“I’ve had more of those comments than the negative ones, but you remember the negative ones more – they make more of an impact unfortunately.
“It’s something that should be so normal and it’s what breasts are for ultimately.”
The breastfeeding bond is something that Emma has inherited from her own mother, who breastfed her children until each was two years old.
Professional photographer Emma said: “I don’t see breastfeeding as something to be embarrassed about.
“It completely equalises everyone because all women regardless of background can all do the same thing.
“Lots of people stop breastfeeding at three months because they get recommended to stop, which I think is a shame.
“It’s completely a personal choice but so many people who want to breastfeed get told they can’t when, with the right support, they probably could.
“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 doddle now she struggled when she began.
Emma, who gave birth to Alex when she was 24, said: “I did struggle to breastfeed at first. I had wanted a home birth but it was quite traumatic and we ended up in hospital.
“The midwives are amazing at what they do, but they do not have the time to give comprehensive breastfeeding support.
“I couldn’t get my eldest to latch on properly, and the midwife just grabbed my boob and shoved the baby onto it and it was really painful.
“Luckily there was a breastfeeding support team who stayed with me for more than half an hour and really helped.
“Without that I wouldn’t have been feeding her.”
Emma has since 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 leukaemia, according the NHS.
New mums also benefit from breastfeeding, which reduces their risk of breast and ovarian cancer, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
However Emma thinks that Alex will eventually stop breastfeeding on her own.
She said: “Quite a lot of children have weaned by this point, but Alex has always been a massive comfort feeder.
“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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