Riona O Connor, a mother from the U.K., shared multiple images on social media of her breastfeeding her toddler.
The internet had a LOT of opinions about it. Some celebrated her decision, and some criticized her for not weaning him earlier. People even went as far as to say that it should be considered child abuse.
Making the decision to breastfeed is a personal matter. It's also one that's likely to draw opinions from friends and family.
Even though breastfeeding is typically highly regarded by doctors and health professionals, there's also a lot of controversy around it.
"Damned If We Do, Damned If We Don't"
Mothers are often judged and criticized for breastfeeding, but those who choose to feed their babies through formula or pumped breast milk are also judged.
Whatever you choose to do, odds are, you're going to get judged for it by at least SOMEONE.
How Long Can You Breastfeed?
After a pregnancy, the breasts stay "mature" forever. If a woman isn't pregnant, it's a slow process to gradually increase your milk production, but it is possible.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first six months, with continued breastfeeding in addition to introducing appropriate complementary foods for one year or longer (up to seven years).
Riona O Connor
Riona O Connor is a mother who lives in the U.K. She has two healthy, happy children.
However, Riona received a lot of backlash and criticism after posting a photo of herself breastfeeding her son.
She Still Breastfed Her Four-Year-Old
The above photo was posted on Riona's Facebook account. She posted it in July 2019, when her son turned four years old.
She even wrote in the caption, "I never thought that when the midwife first laid him on my breast that I would still be doing this four years later."
Her Popular Facebook Page
The pic was posted on the mama's Facebook page where she has 185,000 followers. She is a comedy video creator.
Her breastfeeding post sparked a debate about extended breastfeeding, and people had A LOT of opinions on it.
Riona Isn't Afraid To Tell Her Truth
Although she received many positive comments, people had negative things to say too. She was mom-shamed online for breastfeeding her son.
Riona is happy to still be breastfeeding. Her son just hasn't wanted to stop yet, and she sees no issue with continuing to breastfeed until he is ready.
Some Didn't See The Harm
Many women and mothers celebrated and respected Riona's choice to post the photo.
Lots of moms also shared information about their breastfeeding experiences in the comments. Women came together to support one another, but not everyone liked Riona's choice to continue to breastfeed her four-year-old.
Some Thought It Was Wrong For Her To Breastfeed A Child So Late
Among the good comments, there were also a fair amount of negative ones.
Other people commented things like, "If the child is old enough to tell you that they are thirsty, then they are too old to breastfeed."
Some Were Just Straight-Up Confused
Some people just genuinely did not understand why Riona hadn't even tried to wean him off.
He was drinking and eating normal food at this point—so why was he still breastfeeding?
Shaming A Mom For Feeding Her Baby Isn't Okay
Some comments called it child abuse, which is in no way okay. She is not abusing her child, as he is healthy and happy. Shaming her is also not okay, as it's her body, her choice. Her kids, her choice.
Are people allowed to have an opinion on it? Sure, because she shared it publicly on social media. Disagreeing is okay, but people should communicate their feelings in a non-shameful way.
Riona Used The Attention To Help Normalize Extended Breastfeeding
Riona made a follow-up post to the pic, explaining that she never thought she would get to help normalize extended breastfeeding/natural-term weaning.
She said that she had no idea how many women struggled to breastfeed in public or around their families.
She Was Touched By The Positive Messages
She claimed that the messages in her inbox had her in tears. Not the negative ones, but the positive stories of breastfeeding experiences and how it helped children through surgeries and huge leaps, comforted them, and was such a wonderful way to bond and give love.
Rionna said that she supports women no matter how they choose to feed their babies.
She Ignored The Haters And Thinks Moms Should "Do What Works For Them"
Riona stated that she certainly had no idea how huge a deal it would be, with her post going viral and getting the attention of the national press. To her, it's a no-brainer—she feeds until her child is ready to stop.
Riona finished off the post with the following: "It works for us both so why not?! That’s my main message in all areas of parenting, do what works for you! If I can help make breastfeeding a stigma-free zone then great! I just might avoid the comments."
As Of July 2020, She Was Breastfeeding A Five-Year-Old And A One-Year-Old
In July 2020, Riona uploaded a new image, showing her breastfeeding both her children at once. Her kids at the time were aged one and five.
In February of 2021, she posted that at age five (nearly six), her son was slowly weaning. She's okay with that, as she was letting him do it at his own pace.