By Liana Jacob
THIS LACTIVIST proudly posts nude pictures of her breastfeeding her 34-month-old in defiance of haters who tell her she is DISGUSTING and even accuse her of trying to steal their men by breastfeeding in public.
A captivating picture shows photographer, Reka Nyari (39), who lives in New York, USA, breastfeeding her 34-month-old daughter, Ilo, while majestically sitting on a chair with an owl perched on her right arm.
While another photo shows her lying next to her husband, Ian, and their dog while breastfeeding her daughter.
Other stunning shots show her lying on a sofa while breastfeeding her daughter when she was around two-years-old, and a black and white picture shows her breastfeeding in the nude.
Reka has been breastfeeding her daughter since she was born in November 2015 and has never given her formula.
She has always been an advocate for mums who choose to breastfeed their children beyond the age of one and insists that the natural practise is beneficial for the mother and child in the long term.
Unapologetic, Reka, who is originally from Finland, chose to breastfeed her daughter anywhere she would want to be fed, including public places.
With over 30K Instagram followers, she posts pictures of her breastfeeding on social media to educate the critics about the benefits of lactation.
“She usually has breastmilk in the mornings when we wake up, and if I am at home, at night when she goes to bed,” Reka said.
“If she is feeling sick, she may want to feed more often and during the day. I have always been a bit of a lactivist.
“It has been irritating how judgmental people can be about women who breastfeed, and how sexualised the breast and nipple have become.
“Possibly the most obnoxious person was a woman who was sitting in front of us with her boyfriend on a plane from New York City to Budapest.
“She called me ‘disgusting’ followed by a litany of degrading swear words. Apparently she thought I was trying to steal her man by quietly breastfeeding my baby during the landing of the plane.
“Breastfeeding is natural, and our breasts were made for feeding our babies. Associating breastfeeding with sex or perversion is disturbing.
“I breastfeed everywhere my baby would want to be fed. It doesn’t happen that often anymore as my daughter is older, but when she was a baby, I would do it everywhere; restaurants, shops, meetings, streets, the subway, you name it.
“Looking back at it, it was my way of defying societal norms – I was waiting for someone to start complaining to me so that I could educate them about it.
“I have to say that only a few people (mostly women, interestingly) ever gave me any trouble when I breastfed in public.
“Now that my daughter is thirty-four-months-old, I get judged and criticised a lot. Friends and family roll their eyes, give unapproving stares, and tell me that I should quit.
“They tell me that it’s somehow harmful for my child and for me, that what I am doing is somewhat selfish, disturbing or perverse. People are shocked.
“I was considering weaning my daughter off when she was about one-year-old (the often recommended age to stop), but I found so much evidence that extending breastfeeding past one-year is extremely beneficial for both the mum and child.
“Talking with accomplished, experienced pediatricians sealed the deal. I was not pushing it – I let my daughter decide how she felt, and if she still wanted to feed.
“I am a working mum, with a career and busy travel schedule, and I always assumed that when I returned from my travels, she would be weaned off. So far, that has not happened.
“Breastfeeding her right now is a bonding experience and it has been amazing for her immune system.
“I can’t even tell you how many times she has gotten the antibodies from my breastmilk and avoided the cold that both me and my husband get.”
According to the Baby Centre website, breast milk provides immunity from some illnesses as well as nutrients and vitamins and toddlers that are breastfed get ill less often than those who aren’t.
The longer a child is breastfed, the more independent they become due to the attachment bonding created through breastfeeding.
Reka explains the differences between breastfeeding her daughter now compared to when she was a baby.
“It is easier in the way that it only happens a few times a day whereas before it was a constant source for food for her,” she said.
“But it’s harder because you have to deal with a toddler who does acrobatics while they have a nipple in their mouth. It’s also harder because people judge you, and you have to constantly explain yourself.
“That is part of the reason I continued to post breastfeeding pictures on social media; to educate people that judge without doing any research.
“Why does a breastfeeding mother anger and irritate people so much? I have found that most of this anger is unfounded. As soon as people read on the matter, they become less judgmental.
“Breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding should be normalised. I feel sad when I read about a lot of mothers who breastfeed past a year but hide it because they feel ashamed or judged.
“The more women speak publicly about this; the more people are exposed to the idea and the more acceptable it becomes.
“I ask those that judge, what research they have that backs up their criticism. Then I kindly present them with the abundance of research that states that extended breastfeeding is beneficial to the mother and child.
“Of course, I give my daughter solid food too – she loves to eat. But some of the benefits of extended breastfeeding include: boosting the child’s immune system, helping brain and intellectual development, and making children more socially adaptable and independent.”
While in public she receives some negative reactions, Reka says she has received mostly positive comments on social media.
“I get a lot of supportive messages from women that have also breastfed their toddlers till around three-years, or longer,” she said.
“For the few negative comments I get per post, I try to educate those people so that we can remove the negative stigma surrounding this matter.
“We should also stop the negative cycle of constantly criticising and judging women’s bodies and the decisions they make regarding their bodies.
“Choosing to breastfeed, or not to breastfeed, is an individual choice. These are my breasts, hear them roar.”