A mother of two who nurses her children beyond the “typical” age is getting dragged for extended breastfeeding.
The unnamed mother, who has daughters ages 3 and 4, shared her story with the website Love What Matters, which on Wednesday, Instagrammed a photo of the family. “I tandem nursed until my oldest was 4.5 years old,” she wrote. “My youngest is 3.5 years old and is still happily nursing. She will wean when she is good and ready. Sometimes when people hear that my children nurse for much longer than what is seen as normal, they get weird and disgusted. This is exactly why we are so passionate about these photos and normalizing breastfeeding.”
Under the image, one follower wrote, “I do think it’s kind of gross, but that’s my opinion.” Another person wrote, “I am all for nursing but this is disturbing.” The photo was further dismissed as “Disgusting.”
On the publication’s Facebook page, a large number of people agreed with the notion of extending nursing, writing, “Guess what? I’m not so arrogant that I think I have the right to an opinion on how another family parents their children. We all do what we think is best,” and “Why do people have to be so judgmental and outspoken? You’re not the one breastfeeding or feeding these children, I think we should empower women no matter what their decisions are formula or breast, 6months of feeding on breast or 4 years, as long as the child is well fed. WHO CARES!”
On the Love What Matters website, the mother in the photo further explained: “When my first daughter was 16 months old, I became pregnant with my second daughter. My first was still nursing and I had no plans to stop just because I was pregnant. My plan was to nurse my children full term until they chose to wean on their own. I ended up tandem nursing for two and a half years until my oldest was 4 and a half and she weaned. My youngest is 3 and a half and is still happily nursing a couple of times a day. She will wean when she is good and ready.”
“This is exactly why my friends and myself are so passionate about these photos and normalizing breastfeeding. From a newborn to a big kid, every mother and child duo should feel love and support for choosing this way of [nurturing]. One of the special things about breastfeeding is that everyone’s experience is unique. We all start out and end up a little bit differently from each other, but we all do it out of the love we have for our children,” she wrote.
The photo, taken by Sammi Snaps Photography (a representative of which did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment), is part of an artistic series celebrating breastfeeding, just in time for National Breastfeeding Month, which runs through August.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that mothers nurse for a baby’s first six months of life and up until a year if combined with solid foods. Breastfeeding beyond that time frame is considered “extended breastfeeding” and per the AAP offers boosted immunity and enhanced nutrition.
The organization does state that mothers who engage in extended nursing may experience shaming. “Worldwide, babies are weaned on average between ages 2 and 4,” per the website. “In some cultures, breastfeeding continues until children are age 6 or 7. In other parts of the world, however, this is less common and can sometimes provoke uninformed, negative reactions.”
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