A mother who plans to breastfeed her infant daughter until she is six years old has copped hateful backlash on social media, with some critics branding her decision as a form of child abuse.
Mum-of-one Jacy Campbell, a 20-year-old certified lactation consultant from the US state of Texas, frequently shares clips of her one-year-old daughter, Emmy, to her TikTok account. In one video uploaded on January 4, Campbell - who focuses on 'holistic health' - revealed her intention to breastfeed her daughter until the age of six.
The controversial clip, which has since amassed almost 2 million views, sparked a fierce debate among viewers - many of whom criticised Campbell's parenting as "wrong".
"That's actually disgusting, that's school age and I'm pretty sure they can call CPS [child protective services] for that lol," one person commented.
"I fully support extended breastfeeding but this is [too] much," said another.
A third responded: "That's morally wrong," while a fourth added: "That should be illegal."
Campbell later responded directly to one viewer who branded her parenting as a form of abuse.
"Your child will fully resent you for it in the future. At that point it becomes a form of sexual assault," the person wrote.
In her response, Campbell called out the viewer for "sexualising" breastfeeding.
"Extended breastfeeding is not sexual assault, there's nothing sexual about a child eating," she said in the clip, which has since gained more than 19,000 views.
"Just because you sexualise breasts doesn't mean a child does.
"A child is eating, they use you for nourishment," she said, before adding: "You don't even have kids, stop."
She then doubled-down on her stance in the comments, arguing there are a "plethora of health benefits" for both mums and bubs and she shouldn't feel the need to "justify" her decision.
After hitting back at her critics, other like-minded mums offered their support to Campbell, praising her parenting.
"What is wrong with people? A child is not sexualising their primary food source," one said.
"You are doing great momma," said another.
Others shared their own stories of successful breastfeeding.
"Girl you do you!" one said. "That's amazing if you can make it to six... my babe lasted till four."
"I met a Guatemalan woman and her child who breastfed that long, I plan to go that long too! It's incredibly beneficial!" another chimed in.
"My mom did with my little brother until he self-weaned," another wrote. "He was four."
Speaking to The Independent, Campbell said if her daughter self-weans earlier than six, she will continue to pump her breast milk and give it to her in a sippy cup.
She added that if Emmy wants to breastfeed "beyond six years", she will not stop her.
Campbell also revealed that she and the TikTok user who initially likened her parenting to abuse had since enjoyed a productive conversation.
"She completely changed her mind and now supports my decision," Campbell claimed.
"She was simply uneducated on the topic... breasts are hyper-sexualised for no reason when their sole purpose is to nourish our children."
The World Health Organisation (WHO), which actively promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children, recommends exclusively breastfeeding babies for their first six months of life - meaning no other foods or liquids are provided, including water.
The WHO notes that from the age of six months, children should begin eating safe and adequate complementary foods while continuing to breastfeed "for up to two years and beyond".
"Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival," it says. "Breast milk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many common childhood illnesses.
"Breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to diabetes later in life. Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers."
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health also recommends exclusively breastfeeding until the child is around six months old.
"Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby and breastfeeding is perfect for you too," it says.
According to the ministry, breastfeeding can reduce the risk of certain cancers and bone disease and can foster a closer relationship between mother and baby. Among its benefits for bubs, breast milk can help to protect infants against colds, tummy bugs, infections and allergies.