A MOTHER has opened up about her decision to continue breastfeeding her four-year-old son – saying it's given her "a sense of pride and joy she didn't think was possible".
Riona O'Connor, 38, from Ireland, shared the emotional Facebook post with her 125,000 followers to celebrate her son's birthday earlier this week.
Sharing a photo of her breastfeeding outside a cafe, Riona wrote: "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."
Discussing her first memory of breastfeeding, the mum-of-two added: "I would never have 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."
Despite her decision to continue breastfeeding, the blogger and comedian – who gave birth to her second son Ruairi four months ago – says full-term feeding hasn't been without it's difficulties.
She continued: "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 thank you my baby for coming into my life."
Riona's post has now racked up more than 3,000 likes and comments since she shared it on Monday.
Thanking the mum for her positive approach, one user replied: "Amazing! Thank you for normalising natural term breastfeeding and tandemfeeding.
"Hopefully all people will get a better understanding one day what is biologically normal for humans and what isn't."
Another added: "Congratulations on your breastfeeding journey. Take my hat off to you.
"I would have loved to have gotten that far along, let alone a year. What an amazing mummy you are."
However, other followers were more critical in their replies – with one even sensationally likening it to "child abuse".
The 55-year-old male user wrote: "Here's a good rule of thumb for discontinuing breast feeding.
"If the child is old enough to tell you they are thirsty, then they are too old to breastfeed. This borders on child abuse in my opinion."
How long should you breastfeed for?
- Exclusive breastfeeding (only giving your baby breastmilk) is recommended for the first six months of your baby's life
- After this, it is recommended you continue breastfeeding alongside other meals
- Mothers can continue breastfeeding their children as long as they like
- Breastfeeding can build a strong emotional connection between mother and baby and has been known to help newborns fight infection
Although another user claims that "breastfeeding is natural and beautiful", they wrote: "I hate when mums extend it until the kid is old enough to eat a steak. That's sick.
"A kid needs to grow and cut the cord. They can't be babies forever."
Meanwhile, one user recommended: "There comes a time in a child's life that even the bottle and pacifier need to be taken away. I am all for breastfeeding but do think there is a cut off point.
"If you do want him to drink breast milk everyday then pump and put in a cup for him. I'll probably get bashed for this but he is too old to be on your breast."
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