'Who breastfeeds a child in that position?'
Kids do better later in life when they're breastfed to an older age says spokesperson for the Australian Breastfeeding Association, Nicole Bridges.PT0M0S 620 349
A startling Time magazine cover image of a mother breastfeeding her three-year-old son has sparked debate about the technique known as attachment parenting.
Under the headline "Are you mom enough?" Jamie Lynne Grumet, 26, appears on the latest US edition's cover with her son Aram, 3, as he stands on a small seat to reach her.
Grumet explains in the story that she uses the same attachment method on her adopted five-year-old son Samuel, who she adopted from Ethiopia in 2010 and continues to breastfeed about once a month. She also says that her mother breastfed her until she was six.
Confronting cover ... Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her son. Photo: AP
She told the magazine she remembered being latched onto her mother's breast.
"It's really warm. It's like embracing your mother, like a hug. You feel comforted, nurtured and really, really loved. I had so much self-confidence as a child, and I know it's from that."
Grumet said being able to breastfeed Samuel after his adoption helped comfort him following the trauma he had faced.
"I didn't realise how much it would help my attachment to him.
"When his English improved, because the connection was there, he didn't do it as much."
Grumet has written on her blog, which has since crashed due to increased web traffic, about how much Aram, who will turn four next month, enjoys being breastfed.
One post features a picture of Aram being breastfed at the the Playboy mansion with the caption: "I've breastfed Aram at the Playboy mansion. I actually felt it was the most appropriate place on earth to do it," the Daily Mail reported.
Social media news site Storyful compiled a collection of angry reactions to the story, with many women saying Time was encouraging parenting wars and making mothering choices even harder.
"I am mom enough regardless of my parenting philosophy. And so are you. And that's all I'm going to say about that," Alexis Hinde wrote.
Actress Alyssa Milano wrote: "Time, no! You missed the mark! You're supposed to be making it easier for breastfeeding moms. Your cover is exploitive and extreme."
Australian Breastfeeding Association spokeswoman, Meredith Laverty, said women should be encouraged to make their own informed choices about breastfeeding.
"What I think is at the nub of the issue is supporting mothers and their networks to get the right information at the start of breastfeeding so that mothers are able to go on to breastfeed successfully and stop whenever they choose," Ms Laverty said.
"Why would I or you get to say that we can tell other people what do to in the constructs of the family."
She said the latest Australian figures showed 96 per cent of women will choose to start breastfeeding, but those figures drop by 30 per cent when babies are one month old.
"Our whole system is not supporting 30 per cent of those mothers who started out wanting to breastfeed.
"I think that's where we need to be looking at improving our services across the board so that mothers can feel a little bit more supported."
The Australian Breastfeeding Association endorses the World Health Organisation's stance on breastfeeding - that babies should be exclusively breastfed in the first six months.
The Time cover has also already attracted a growing number of internet memes.
Attachment parenting, a phrase coined by US pediatrician Dr William Sears, was first suggested as a theory in the 1950s and has since developed into a method that has created some controversy - because of the age at which people continuing breastfeeding their children and the use of co-sleeping.
Retail chains including Target, Wal-Mart and Safeway did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether the magazine, which goes on sale Friday, would be displayed in stores.
Time Managing Editor Rick Stengel said he had not heard of any retailers concerned about displaying the cover. But he acknowledged that the image is "provocative. We're posing an interesting question about a subject that couldn't be more important — how we raise our children. People have all kinds of mixed feelings about that."
Agencies with smh.com.au
Read more about the controversial Time cover at Essential Baby.