Mother ostracized online for continuing to breastfeed four-year-old

Irish blogger and comedian Riona O’Connor recently shared an image of herself breastfeeding her four-year-old son on Facebook recently and was met with a swarm of backlash.

O’Connor decided to share the image to celebrate her son’s birthday.

The caption read:

“He’s four today. I’m so in love with and proud of everything he is. I’m so proud of what he’s made me become. I never thought that when the midwife first laid him on my breast that I would still be doing this for years later. I was innocent and clueless and fully prepared for it not to work out. The biggest surprise was that it did and that it’s given me a sense of pride and joy I didn’t think was possible. If you know me you know my self esteem can be through the floor at times. Those times I’ve thought, I might not be able to do much but I can do this. So thank you my body but mostly thank you my baby for coming into my life. I’m so incredibly lucky to have you ❤️ #fouryearsold #extendedbreastfeeding #breastfeeding #mybaby #growingup #imnotemotionalyouare

Image via Facebook

Nursing is considered a very intimate and complicated act that is highly debated.

But it should be noted that the only opinion that truly matters when it comes to you and your child’s health is your doctor’s and your child’s.

One commenter stirred up debate under the post, claiming the act was borderline child abuse.

“Let me just say this I am 55 years old and have vivid memories from the ages of 3 and 4 , I definitely would not want to be able to remember nursing my mothers tit or should I . Here’s a good rule of thumb for discontinuing breast feeding. If the child is old enough to tell you that they are thirsty, then they are too old to breastfeed. This borders on child abuse in my opinion.”

Image via Facebook

Thankfully, O’Connor was given more support despite the backlash – with mothers quickly sharing their breastfeeding journeys. While others took the opportunity to express their anxieties about breastfeeding while encouraging O’Connor for challenging societal norms.

“…As someone who is still feeding a nearly 3 year old, I never thought I’d be doing that when I started breastfeeding over 7 years ago (I’ve clocked up 74 [months] of breastfeeding to date) but while it still works for mummy and baby/child, let it work!”

“I still remember days of hiding breastfeeding my just shy of 3 year old to sleep out of fear of ridicule. Wish I had the strong mental health that I do now 3 years ago to have just confidently done it,”

“This is wonderful! You’re a wonderful momma! Happy birthday to your little dude! My little dude will be 4 in August and still breastfeeding at times as well.”

Image via Facebook

“I presume it’s mainly those who don’t know the biological norms for humans worldwide and throughout history (2-7years people!), and/or the same people that say ‘bitty’ from about 2 months/think breastfeeding is only ‘until they have teeth’ or start solids. Or those who were left unsupported and had to stop feeding sooner than they wanted to. I wish more people were able to sustain breastfeeding for as long as the parent and child wish. It’s not always easy, but so worthwhile..”

Many mothers stop nursing due to lack of support, health issues or other difficulties. But at the end of the day, when and why a mother decides to stop or continue nursing is her business.

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