[Ramzan, 18] Welcome to Day 18 of our Ramzan Writing Series.
Today’s topic briefly touches parenthood and lactation.
In Surah Baqarah, ayat 233, Allah says,
“The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child. Nor father on account of his child, an heir shall be chargeable in the same way. If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided ye pay (the mother) what ye offered, on equitable terms. But fear Allah and know that Allah sees well what ye do.”
(Weaning means, withdrawing mother’s milk)
While reading this ayaah, I pondered over some thing in general. Many young mothers around me would mention with shame if they were unable to complete two years of lactation for their young. It always made me think that surely, there must be a genuine reason to it which a young mother does not feel comfortable sharing.
But Subhanallah, studying this ayaah (Surah baqarah, 233), I was yet again pleasantly surprised to see how practical and an accommodating religion Islam is!
It clearly states that a child’s mother and father can ‘mutually’ decide on when to discontinue breastfeeding the child.
I was confused now. I came from a society where I’d mostly seen women being judged and looked down upon on their inability or a deliberate decision not to breastfeed their child. They were made to look like bad mothers whose priorities weren’t right. The children of such mothers would be labeled “mazloom” for having missed out on the naimat of the mother’s milk and the naimat of a caring mother!
But what does my Rabb say here? The ayah starts with mentioning the afzal (better) time period for lactation of two years. Next, Subhan’Allah, Allah says if the father and mother MUTUALLY decide to discontinue breastfeeding, there is nothing bad in it.
Allah knows that a woman’s inability to lactate doesn’t only stem from her not wanting to do it, but could be from anything. It could be that the mother’s health doesn’t allow it, sometimes her body is unable to produce sufficient milk for her child, or it could be anything PRIVATE to the couple which we should let be.
Going further in the ayaah, Allah commands that the father or the mother, no one, should be given hurt or pain because of his or her parenthood.
What do we do?
• Don’t you have any kids?
• When is the second coming?
• When is the third coming?
• Why can’t you both stop?
• Are you breastfeeding?
• Why aren’t you breastfeeding?
• Don’t you think your baby will suffer if you don’t?
• Didn’t complete two years of lactation? Tsk, tsk!
• In our times, women gave their hundred percent to their children. We didn’t worry about our figures!
• Why is your child doing this, doing that?
• Why don’t you do such and such thing like this?
• Not breastfeeding your child? That’s horrible!!!
Mothers are made to feel so bad about it without ever knowing the root cause. For those who are not aware, a woman’s body is a delicate balance of very complex systems. If you are ignorant towards the kinds of problems that can arise and hamper lactation, why not keep judgements to yourself?
Please remember that Allah commands you not to tease a father or a mother because of their parenthood. A well meaning advice always hits home and will be taken graciously.
But if you are here just for passing judgments and pulling a new mom down with them, then don’t do it. A new mother is already on a roller-coaster drive both physically and emotionally.
Your kind word will lift her mood. Be thoughtful and supportive.