Mum sparks debate after snap breastfeeding son, four, goes viral
A mother has sparked debate after she uploaded a photo of her son latched onto her breast to celebrate his fourth birthday.
Riona O'Connor, 38, is a mummy blogger and breastfeeding advocate who has found a following online thanks to her no-nonsense approach to parenthood.
This attitude extends to how she's raising her two sons, the elder of which she paid tribute to in a pride-filled birthday post on Facebook.
"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," she told her 120,000 followers.
"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."
But now Riona, who is from Ireland, has attracted some critics who have found issue with choice to breastfeed long after the norm.
"A good rule of thumb for discontinuing breastfeeding. If the child is old enough to tell you that they are thirsty, then they are too old to breastfeed," wrote one disgruntled commenter.
"This borders on child abuse in my opinion."
Another questioned just how effective breastfeeding was for children beyond toddlerhood, or whether there were other reasons for continuing the practice.
"Genuinely curious," the commenter began.
"Is there any health benefit to breastfeeding a four-year-old (assuming that at four, they're eating a wide variety of solid food and have access to clean water)? Or is it more of a comfort thing at this point?"
But despite the critics, Riona's supporters came out in their droves, with some saying they wish they had the courage to practice extended breastfeeding.
"Take my hat off to you. I would of loved to have gotten that far along let alone a year," wrote one woman.
"I still remember days of hiding breastfeeding my just shy of 3 year old to sleep out of fear of ridicule," revealed another.
"Wish I had the strong mental health that I do now three years ago to have just confidently done it!"
- This article first appeared on Yahoo