For this belly-dancing Byron Bay mum breastfeeding her pre-schooler is the most natural thing in the world.
Each night Maha Al Musa lies in bed beside her daughter Aminah and offers her “chocolate milkies” – milk from her breast. There’s nothing unusual about this, except Maha is 50 and her daughter is four. This mother-of-three from northern NSW is an advocate for breastfeeding and cherishes this precious end-of-the-day routine, which she says enables mother and daughter to bond.
“We have a story and she falls asleep on my breast,” says Maha, whose toned, tanned, natural beauty belies her age.“It’s this beautiful, quiet, connected, meditative space where she goes off into dreamland. “It’s so lovely to have my milkies right here. They never go missing, they’re always ready, always warm and available and full of nutrients.” Maha didn’t set out to feed her daughter for four years, or to have a baby at 46, but she knows it all feels natural and very right.
“When you get older you have more going on and breastfeeding is just so easy,” says Maha, who was born in Kuwait and moved to Australia with her father at age two. “The wellbeing of the mother is so important. No-one can dictate what you must or must not do. “I feed her in the morning and at night and a couple of times during the day if she wants that. Then she totally calms down and I calm down. I am so grateful to have that breast there.”
The Government’s dietary guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants until six months of age, around which time solids are introduced, and continued breastfeeding until 12 months – and beyond if both mother and infant wish. “Aminah eats everything,” says her mum. “Just like any four-year-old. Breastfeeding is now more a supplement, to keep her immune system naturally boosted and for the heart comfort and warmth.”
Read more about Maha and her family in this week's Woman’s Day on sale Monday November 5, 2012.
Attachment parenting, a style of child rearing promoted by Dr William Sears, was the topic the above Time magazine cover story, with US woman Jamie Grumet pictured breastfeeding her three-year-old son. There was global controversy when it was published six months ago – the web lit up in response. Comments ranged from “disgusting” to “what’s the big deal?” We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave your comments below.