When should you stop breastfeeding?

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Maha Al Musa breastfeeds her 6-year-old daughter
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A mum who still breastfeeds her six-year-old daughter has received a barrage of abusive comments after publicly sharing her story online. 


Maha Al Musa, who lives in Byron Bay, Australia, hit the headlines back in May 2015 after posting pictures of her breastfeeding her six-year-old daughter, Aminah, who turns seven this year, and claiming that she believes so strongly in the power of her breastmilk that she has refused to immunise her daughter.


'I've been called a paedophile,' the 52 year old told Australian news site Channel 9. 'My heart goes out to people who criticise me and I respect people's criticism. [But] this isn't about breastfeeding children. This is about attack and disrespect of the feminine.'


'People can say whatever they like. I know what I'm doing as a mother. I've raised three beautiful, healthy, well-adjusted children, and that's all that matters to me.'



The mum, who founded BellydanceBirth, a bellydancing pregnancy and birth exercise programme, regularly posts pictures of her breastfeeding her daughter, Aminah, on her Facebook page, where she actively promotes breastfeeding older children and is where she has received much of the online criticism.


'I believe it helps boost her immune system,' she told the Daily Mail. 'To this day, she is very rarely ill and her temperament is calmer and more relaxed than the other children.'


Speaking to Mamamia, a parenting site, she said, 'In an ideal world we should be accepting of a mother's choice to do what's best for her, her baby/child and circumstance. This should not really even be an issue.'


And although she stopped breastfeeding her two older children when they were two, she says that she will only stop breastfeeding Aminah when she asks, which, it seems, may be not too far in the distant future. On 1 August she wrote on her Facebook page: 


'My daughter a couple of weeks ago said she felt ready to stop breastfeeding but only maybe do it at night.

'I told her to do what works for her and I fully support her decision.'


Maha is certainly not the only mum who believes in extended breastfeeding.


Last year a mum sparked debate after appearing on This Morning saying that she still breastfeeds her six-year-old daughter.



Denise Sumpter, 44, revealed she was still breastfeeding her daughter, Belle, at six and a half years old, and said she doesn't have any plans to stop soon.

She told the Daily Mirror: 'It's not just a drink - it's nutrition', adding during her appearance on This Morning: 'If my child is embarrassed - that's a problem with this culture.'

Also joining in the debate on This Morning, former midwife and breastfeeding expert Clare Byam-Cook said that the health benefits of drinking breastmilk at six years old 'are virtually negligible.' She added: 'You say that you breastfeed your six-year-old when she's tired or needs comforting, so you're teaching your child to use food as a source of comfort.


'The father doesn't have to breastfeed to comfort, so it just seems to me it's the wrong association. I don't think it's natural in this country.'


Read: 7 of the stupidest things that have ever been said about breastfeeding


Denise said she feeds Belle up to twice a day, and sometimes at the same time as her 18-month-old son, Beau. 

'I feed both children on demand - ­whenever they want it. [But] I will sometimes tell Belle no. She hasn't asked to be fed publicly since she was about four or five.

'I have two healthy, bright, confident children who I truly believe have benefitted from breast milk, and continue to do so. There are things I get out of it - like calm, happy children. But I can say with certainty I've done this entirely for the benefit of my kids.'

However, Denise came under fire from Twitter users accusing her of breastfeeding for her own benefits and not for those of her children:


Other viewers stood up for Denise and said that they couldn't see anything wrong with what she was doing, with one pointing out that the global average kids stop breastfeeding is four and a half:


So when should you stop breastfeeding?

NHS advice recommends that women exclusively breastfeed (that's just breast milk and no other food or drink) for the first six months. Your choice as to how long you wish to breastfeed after that is totally up to you. There is no defining age limit on breastfeeding.

Many women plan to breastfeed for about a year, but plenty of them go on to breastfeed for two years or more.


Do you think Maha is wrong to still be breastfeeding her six year old? When did you stop breastfeeding your children? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Good for her! I bf my first baby for 19 months, my second for 24, and my last for 33 months. Go Mama!


I breastfed my youngest until he was 8 - at that time, I was getting tired of it; but after all the reading I had done on the subject, I made the conclusion that it was best for my child. As an aside, after a bad birth experience with my first child, I decided to never have to go through that again. Ten years later, I had done a sufficient amount of research to make the decision to not only have more children, but to have them without a doctor's assistance - although I am the first to point out that I was under the constant care of an obstetrician with each of my five other children and was never given anything but positive support concerning my decision.

Anne Miller

ok, its up to the people involved, the mother and the child. i loved breastfeeding, i accept it its not for everyone. i allowed my toddler to have a breastfeed whenever he wanted it even though he was having a compleat diet. one day he commented " big boys dont have boobies, im a big boy now, i dont want boobies any more. i said ok, its up to you. and he never did. he was just turned three.

paul bennett

I agree with Lorraine above. This is more about the mother than the child. It's just plain odd. and before anyone says 'what's odd about breastfeeding ?' at six years of age!!!!!!!!!


I have NOTHING against women breastfeeding but has this woman got no shame? Doesn't she realise that she will be teased at school by the other kids? I think she is doing it more for her own sake than the young girl's sake

Melanie Jean Hoyle

If this was an article about a woman breastfeeding her 6 year old son this page would be flooded with comments such as "lucky b*st*rd, wish I were him!", "can she be my mother?", and "I'd go up to her doorstop for a cup of coffee - with extra breast milk!"


Human breast milk is bought by private maternity wards at up to nearly £200 per pint, the mortgage can be paid off before you decide to have another child. I invented a method of increasing breast milk production in the 1970s, and some women have gone on to make careers out of it.


I didn't breastfeed any of mine, and they are now all strapping, healthy lads in their thirties and forties, and all six-feet tall or just over, with hardly a day's illness between them. Bottle is definitely best!

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