Can a Wife Demand Payment for Nursing Her Child? (Shafi’i)

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

Can a wife demand payment from her husband for breastfeeding their child?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

If a mother wants to breastfeed her child, it is not permissible for the father to prevent her from doing so.

However, it is not considered obligatory for a woman to nurse (breastfeed) her child, unless there is no one else available to do, and no other available options that would preserve the welfare of the child.

An exception mentioned in classical works is the mother’s nursing the child in the immediate period following childbirth, which was thought to be specific to the mother and without which the child would not usually survive. However, the obligation here is with respect to preserving the life of the child, and is not necessarily specific to nursing itself.

In any case, a woman can demand reasonable payment from her husband for breastfeeding their child, commensurate to what one could expect for performing such a task. This is because of the general ruling in the Qur’an: If they nurse your infants, pay them for it [Qur’an; 65.6].

Source: Hashiyat al-Bujayrami

Shuaib Ally