No mother wants to be told how long she should breastfeed her child. For DIY Network's Nicole Curtis, that issue has become part of a bitter custody dispute.
The "Rehab Addict" star breastfeeds son Harper, 2 ½. In one chapter of the battle with her ex, Shane Maguire, 54, Curtis says she was forced to allow Harper to be bottle-fed at six months old during visitation with his dad.
“He had never had a bottle before, and then all of a sudden that was his only option while he was with his dad,” the single mom told People. “I had no idea a judge could say ‘You’re court-ordered to not feed your exclusively breastfed child.'”
Maguire asserts that Curtis continues to breastfeed Harper as a way to keep him from being able to see his son.
But she argues that the toddler will wean when he's ready. “I keep saying, it’s not like he’s 7 or 8 — he’s still a baby,” she said. “Every single day I have to weather criticism about how my child is too old to breastfeed,” she said. “But when he weans it’s going to be his decision. I truly believe it’s the child’s choice.”
“A mother should breastfeed as long as it is mutually desired by both mother and child,” said Gina Boling, IBCLC, Clinical Director of the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington. “According to some anthropologists, the normal biological weaning age for humans is between 2.5–4 years. The [American Academy of Pediatrics] recommends to a year or beyond, and the World Health Organization recommends to 2 years or beyond. I recommend as long as it is working for the family.”
“It’s important that children have both of their parents,” Curtis told People, “But [preventing] me from breastfeeding my child just so he can see his dad is not right.” She denies that she continued to breastfeed in order to interfere with Maguire’s visitation.
Curtis says that the court-ordered bottle feeding jeopardized her milk supply because she was unable to pump. “I had to pay an outside licensed lactation specialist to witness me pump without results,” she says. “I sat in my living room with my shirt off, hooked up in front of a stranger to document that my body did not produce enough.”
“I’ve always been a fighter,” she says. “If something’s not right, I’m the first person to stand up. And I don’t believe that my child should have to wean because of our situation.”
Gina Boling, the lactation consultant, says that divorce can be particularly hard on breastfed babies due to the separation. “In a best-case scenario, both parents will work together to make the transition as easy as possible for the child,” she says.