In a world that often scrutinizes every aspect of motherhood, Martina Darling, a 36-year-old business owner from Stowmarket, Suffolk, is unapologetically pushing the boundaries by breastfeeding her three-year-old son, Winston. Despite facing harsh criticism from strangers online, as well as skepticism from some friends and family, Martina remains resolute in her choice to continue breastfeeding even as Winston approaches school age.

Martina’s journey into extended breastfeeding hasn’t been without its challenges. The mother of one recalls the initial discomfort she experienced during those early months. Still, something clicked, and she discovered a deep, emotional connection with her son that she couldn’t ignore. It was a bond that brought not only convenience but also financial benefits.

“I had Winston in January 2020 and went into motherhood quite open-minded, I didn’t mind if I breastfed or bottle fed,” Martina shared. “As soon as he came out, he spent two hours suckling, which made me think: ‘I’m going to try and breastfeed.'”

However, the road to extended breastfeeding wasn’t always smooth. Negative comments started pouring in when Winston was around 18 months old. Friends and family, initially supportive, began expressing their reservations about Martina’s choice to breastfeed in public. Martina refused to hide her decision, wondering why she shouldn’t share this essential aspect of motherhood.

“Why should I not tell people? It’s my decision,” Martina declared. “People feel like it’s a taboo subject and it’s not normal. People don’t talk about it and shy away from it, and I think that’s wrong. I’m not scared to be open about feeding my toddler.”

Despite the criticism and pressure to conform, Martina remains steadfast in her decision. Her primary motivation is not to provide milk to her son but to nourish the unique bond they share. Winston, who feeds three to six times a day, finds comfort in this routine that has been a part of his life since birth.

“Even though I feed him now, it’s not for the milk; it’s for the comfort. That’s all he’s known his whole life,” Martina explained. “I felt like I had a trump card to fix any situation. We’d be at a toddler group, and other kids would be having meltdowns, but I could just give him some milk, and he’d be absolutely fine.”

Martina’s journey may continue for some time, with no immediate plans to stop. However, she recognizes that as Winston starts school and spends more time away from her, their breastfeeding routine may naturally evolve.

“Obviously, when he’s at school, he’ll be away from me all day, so we’ll probably just feed in the morning and at bedtime, and it’ll slowly decrease,” Martina anticipates. “I didn’t think I’d still be feeding now; I’ve just been really open-minded and gone with the flow.”

Through her candid story, Martina hopes to inspire and support other mothers who may be considering extended breastfeeding but fear societal judgment. She emphasizes that every mother makes choices that they believe are best for their children, and these choices should be respected, not condemned.

“I wanted people to know it’s normal to feed your child up until you want to stop feeding or your child wants to stop,” Martina declared. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a mum, don’t judge another mum by their parenting decisions. Everyone’s just doing the best they can to survive each day.”

Martina Darling’s journey into extended breastfeeding may challenge societal norms, but it serves as a poignant reminder that motherhood is a deeply personal journey. In a world that often seeks to judge and critique, Martina’s story encourages us to embrace and support the choices that mothers make in the best interests of their children.