Temeaka Tate has been breastfeeding for nine years. She is pictured with her daughter when she was four-and-a-half
A mother who has been breastfeeding non-stop for almost a decade is adamant she will keep feeding her third child until he decides to stop – even if that’s at nine years old.
Temeaka Tate has battled online trolls and had photos of her breastfeeding her daughter at four-and-a-half reported to Facebook but is not bothered by what other people think.
‘I was proud I’d gone from not being able to breastfeed to breastfeeding exclusively, so I took a lot of photos,’ Ms Tate told Daily Mail Australia of nursing her daughter.
‘They all got reported as child harm.’
The 34-year-old laughed off suggestions she had been pressuring her daughter to continue breastfeeding after she had turned four.
‘It’s not their bodies or relationship to comment on,’ Ms Tate said of those who questioned her breastfeeding. ‘No one was forced.
‘I ask people if they’ve ever tried to make a toddler do what they don’t want to do. I can’t force a child to feed.’
Ms Tate, from NSW, said her breastfeeding journey had a rocky start when her firstborn had tongue ties and she pumped exclusively for six months.
‘I was told I wouldn’t be able to pump for that long and I said, “Watch me”. For the first four to six months it was every two hours.
Temeaka Tate has battled online trolls and even had photos of her breastfeeding her daughter at four-and-a-half reported to Facebook but was not bothered by what others thought. Ms Tate is pictured with husband and children
‘I knew it was the best thing for him. He was dairy and soy intolerant and wouldn’t drink any of the formulas that were safe.’
One of Ms Tate’s goals was to tandem feed, but unfortunately when she became pregnant with her second child 15 months later her milk dried up.
The little girl, who is now seven, fed right through her mother’s third pregnancy until the night before her baby brother was born.
‘I was so desperate to tandem feed with her,’ she said.
‘The night I was in labour I made sure she had a breastfeed before she went to bed. I said, “I think your baby brother will be here in the morning”.
‘The day he was born I asked if she still wanted milk and she said, “No, it’s his milk now mum”. I was heartbroken, but it was her decision.’
‘It’s not their bodies or relationship to comment on,’ Ms Tate said of those who questioned her breastfeeding. ‘No one was forced.’ She is pictured with children
Ms Tate said she had intended to ‘navigate’ how it would look if she still wanted breast milk when she got to school age.
‘If she wanted to keep going while at school, it would have had to be before and after,’ she said.
‘She didn’t go to kindy; she was the longest-fed child at playgroup.’
Ms Tate said she was not bothered by feeding her children in public. ‘I am not shy about feeding, I will just plonk wherever,’ she said.
She also hoped breastfeeding in front of her son’s nine-year-old friends – none of whom had previously ever seen a baby breastfeed – would help them appreciate it was natural.
‘One boy asked if he could give my son a bottle and I said, “We don’t use a bottle”, so I had to explain breastfeeding to someone else’s son,’ Ms Tate said.
Ms Tate, pictured with daughter, said she was not bothered by feeding her children in public. ‘I am not shy about feeding, I will just plonk wherever,’ she said
While she didn’t get to fulfil her dream of tandem feeding, Ms Tate was proud to say she had been breastfeeding continuously now for nine years and during that time donated milk to nine other babies.
She said she would keep breastfeeding her two-and-half-year-old son for as long as he chose, even if that was until he was nine, like a child of her aunt.
Lactation expert Pinky McKay (above) said internationally the average age of weaning was between two and seven years
Ms Tate said any suggestion her daughter was harmed by the extended breastfeeding was ludicrous.
‘She is fiercely independent and just as well as adjusted as her peers,’ she said. ‘She will say to her friends, “I had mum milk until I was four”.’
Lactation and parenting expert Pinky McKay said Australians thought of only babies breastfeeding, but internationally the average age of weaning was between two and seven years.
‘Extended breastfeeding might be more unusual in our culture, rather than unnatural,’ Ms McKay said.
‘Just because we are not used to a child of that age breastfeeding doesn’t mean it’s weird. It’s a two-way relationship and you have to let the child decide.
‘When women breastfeed a long time people think the child is fulfilling the mother’s needs, but there is no way you can make a child breastfeed beyond their needs.’
Ms McKay said the benefits of extended breastfeeding were numerous.
‘There is no use by date on the nutrients and it’s a really great calming tool,’ she said. ‘It provides hormones and oxytocin that can help regulate the toddler when they are upset or hurt.
‘It’s like a superpower.’