Benefits of extended breast feeding - is there any actually???

(30 Posts)
mumtastik Sat 03-Aug-13 17:14:12

Hello everyone, I have a 22 month old DD and i have been exclusively breast feeding her since birth. We did have the usual ups and downs one can expect with breast feeding. The thing is my DD can still feed like a newborn all day and night given a chance. And she still doesn't sleep through. I have been sticking to breastfeeding for so long believing that it will benefit her. What i would like to know is - from real mums not just researches please... I would like to hear from mums who fed their babies for long if it actually helped them e. g. immunologically - like less illnesses, etc...
If i know if it really made your DCs strong and benefitted them in other ways, it will give me inspiration to continue...
Thanks ladies xx

nethunsreject Sat 03-Aug-13 17:28:46

Hi, yeah I'm feeding a three year old still. There are loads of great things about it, including always having a way to calm him down, he's very healthy, very confident and very affectionate. It's also a great way for us to 'bond' again when I've been at work all day long. Kellymom and la leche have loads about it, both research based and personal accounts too. You're doing a great thing grin. If you're happy with how things are, then that's great. If you're wanting to set limits, like feeding only at certain times or in certain places then doing that in a gentle way might be for you and might make it more sustainable.

JiltedJohnsJulie Sat 03-Aug-13 21:16:51

Fed both of mine until they were 2.8. Both are bright, confident and sociable. Think a lot of how they are has to do with bfing and the way we parent.

mumtastik Sat 03-Aug-13 21:36:31

Thanks for taking your time to reply, nethunsreject and jiltedjohnsjulie...I really enjoy feeding her and I appreciate that it made me develop a strong bond with her. But there are times I feel very exhausted and tired especially when she is ill or teething. I just tell myself that this too shall pass and get on with it. But I was just wondering if it is all worth?. Both ur answers are reassuring and I am going to try and feed her as long as I can...thanks again.

I found it the ultimate tantrum-stopper.
Extraordinarily useful when travelling.

DS had a horrendous noro bug when he was about 2.5 and had he not been breastfeeding I genuinely believe he would have had to be admitted to hospital. He lost a lot of weight, and could only tolerate breast milk, nothing else stayed down.

JiltedJohnsJulie Sat 03-Aug-13 21:45:01

Dd was poorly for a long time last winter. Think every day I wished I was still bfing. It can be tiring bfing when they are it'll, but it can be rewarding feeding them and seeing your Lo improve day by day.

PurplePidjin Sat 03-Aug-13 21:48:54

I have a 22 month old DD and i have been exclusively breast feeding her since birth.

Do you mean that she still only has breast milk, no solid food at all? Because that would be exhausting shock

mumtastik Sat 03-Aug-13 21:56:54

Ha ha purple pidgin. U know what I meant. Of course she eats solid food...

LongTailedTit Sat 03-Aug-13 22:03:57

I'm with ^^ about the amazing power a boob has to stop a tantrum in a millisecond! I BFd DS until 24mo, and one of the main things that stopped me from giving it up earlier was knowing I had a guaranteed quick-fix in my bra toolbox.

Will try to BF DC2 for 2 years for the same reason (currently TTC).

MoominsYonisAreScary Mon 05-Aug-13 12:39:05

It sounds like its the amount of bf, not the actual bf that is the problem. You must be shattered.

Ds3 was still waking lots in the night at 22 months for a bottle, he wasn't going to stop of his own accord so in the end we had to just stop giving him them. He wasn't very happy at first but by 23 months he was sleeping through

Safmellow Mon 05-Aug-13 21:21:40

Agree with some of the others - my DD has stopped bf now but when she was 24 months she had a terrible sickness bug and went a week without being able to keep anything down, not even water, apart from breastmilk. She stopped feeding about a month later and I am absolutely dreading the next bug!

SteepApproach Mon 05-Aug-13 21:46:33

My 3 year old has stepped up the feeds again because her dad's away on a long trip and she needs the extra reassurance. It is tiring, but it's still one of the best parenting tools I have in my kit, so I'm gritting my teeth and going with it. Although before that, I was starting to set limits, which she readily accepted, which eased the load. Though it also made me a bit sad, funnily enough!

So, you have my sympathy. Just because bf is a great thing, doesn't mean it's all easy peasy.

Benefits-wise, I really think bf has helped her develop as a calm and independent child, though I'm lucky in that it seems to be her nature, anyway. Tantrums were rare and easily stopped by the magic boob. Same for accidents. Really amazing. Though now she's older, she's much better at self-managing these things and it's been months since she had bf for an accident.

She's also hardly ever ill compared to her peers, but that could be down to good luck. That is where I do rely on the research. :-)

Hope that helps and good luck, whatever you do.

LastOrdersAtTheBra Mon 05-Aug-13 22:12:57

I stopped bfing DS1 at around 22 months, shortly afterwards he got a horrendous bug and lost a lot of weight, when he'd been ill like that before he'd always had bm and been ok. It's amazing stuff when they're poorly and can't keep anything else down, but he got through it and is still a healthy, happy 5yo now. I'm not sure if it would have made a long term difference if he had bf longer, it would definitely have made life easier at the time though.

DS2 is 2.6 and still bfing, he's slept through a fair bit of the time since he was around 18 months, so it's been just morning and evening since then, now just an evening feed (unless he wakes up inconsolable). I've got to a stage where I'm ready to give it up, but not quite ready to push him if he isn't ready to. It's also nice to know I have it as an emergency back up if he does get ill.

You've done brilliantly to get this far as 18 months of broken nights was very nearly my limit! It's easier said than done, but perhaps if you could reduce night feeding and make it more manageable, you'd be able to continue for longer.

Trying2bMindful Mon 05-Aug-13 23:38:02

if you want to reduce night feeds you could take a look at the Jay Gordon method. My friends really recommend it for setting boundaries at night and reclaiming their sleep!!

mumtastik Tue 06-Aug-13 21:26:32

Thanks for all your responses... I totally agree with the power of boob to stop a tantrum and to comfort... Works for us all the time. Touch wood. Like one of u said above its the amount of bf rather than bf itself a problem for me. I can't even complain about it in real life as all people can say is 'why r u still doing it then' or something like 'haven't u stopped it yet?' Every time I feel like I want to try and nightwear her, that's exactly when she will be teething or ill. So I just tell myself that she needs the comfort and grit my teeth and continue. I don't know if she will ever sleep through. But all ur posts have reassured me that I am doing the right thing though it is hard at the moment, I am going to try and continue to feed her and start setting some limits. Hopefully it will make some difference.

jessieagain Tue 06-Aug-13 21:29:58

My son is 25 months and I feel he has benefited from it immunologically.

He does seem to have had less colds than other babies/toddler we know. He has never had antibiotics. He has never had a bad cough that lingered for any length of time. So i have never had to invest in the collection of cough/cold remedies, steam inhalers etc. He has just gotten over mild colds and coughs quickly.

He has never had a bout of d &v.

He has no allergies or food intolerances. There are quite a few allergies in our family as well.

This could all be a happy coincidence or it could be from ebf to 6 months and then breastfeeding till now, no one will ever know for sure. I just hope I haven't jinxed him now and that he will come down with something smile

MrsCocoa Tue 06-Aug-13 21:38:51

And see today's Indy for possible evidence that, '...the longer a woman spends breastfeeding the lower the overall risk... [of Alzheimer's].'. Small survey but observed link between breastfeeding and lower Alzheimer's risk was described as 'highly significant and consistent'.

Linked to breastfeeding effects of '...restoring glucose tolerance effects after pregnancy and rebalancing the levels of hormones in the body...'.

jennimoo Tue 06-Aug-13 21:42:11

DD BF until January when she was 27 months. From weaning til then she wasn't sick once but had had 3 sick bugs since stopping, the first 6 days after she stopped!

I am convinced the BFing helped her somehow avoid lots of bugs, and was so handy when they hurt themselves as calms them in an instant so you can see if they have damaged anything.

However we night weaned at about 13m and I am so glad we did, was totally the right thing for all if us and she sleeps fantastically now.

I'm just hoping DC2 BFs ok: due anytime now...

jessieagain Tue 06-Aug-13 21:45:47

Also agree with the others about setting limits.

If I fed my ds on demand he would still be feeding like a new born! I tried the weaning method 'don't offer don't refuse' and it failed spectacularly.

I have had to be strict about limiting to 3 feeds a day and I also had to work extremely had to night wean or he would still be feeding every couple of hours. He is not the sort of child to reduce these feeds himself. Even now when I have been sticking to 3 strictly timed feeds a day for the last couple of weeks, he still asks for milk whenever I am sat down which is very hard to deal with. I find it amazing to think that some babies and toddler have self weaned already as he doesn't seem anywhere near this!!

I also had to stop feeding for tantrums/accidents as doing this was increasing the overall number of feeds each day which increased him asking for more. So I have used bf purely for health benefits and also to help maintain our bond.

They are all so different.

DuelingFanjo Tue 06-Aug-13 21:47:16

Just wanted to post to say same here. My son is 32 months old (omg I just worked it out in months and that's soooo old!) and still sleeps with me and feeds. He's just started sleeping for several hours without boob but just before this happened he went through a period where he seemed unable to sleep unless he was on the boob. It might change again but I am hoping he is finally going to start sleeping through.

FadBook Tue 06-Aug-13 21:57:32

Ditto what jessie said at 21:29 - dd is 24 months. No sickness, bugs, s&d (despite me having it 4 times in 2 years, she's not caught it) no visits to go about anything.

Night weaning was a good move for us. We followed Dr Jay Gordon method. Worked extremely well.

I think Bf is easily associated with feeding on demand because that's what we're told at the beginning, and I wholly agree with it. As toddlers, you can set boundaries and dont have to follow that method.

I have friends who still feed their toddlers on demand and that's fine for them but it wasn't for me. So, similar to Jessie we limited night time feeds at first (around 13 months) and then offered bf on my terms (from around 19 months).

I didn't refuse bf when she asked, depending on circumstances (ie if she's not long had a feed, then asked 20 min later, I'd distract her iyswim?) but I was more aware that she could have morning and evening feeds but solid food should be main source of nutrients during the day, so if she'd ask, I'd quickly suggest "would you like some cheese / toast / banana" and 95% of the time, food would be accepted over bf.

mumtastik Tue 06-Aug-13 21:57:58

DuelingFanjo, I salute u. U r a legend. How r u doing this still? I hope my DD starts sleeping through before that. Otherwise I will be starting a thread named 'can extended breastfeeding make u Zombies'? (Of course that's only for the unlucky ones like us whose DCs doesn't sleep through)

Chubfuddler Tue 06-Aug-13 22:00:41

I stopped bfing both mine around 2 because they were still waking for boob several times a night and frankly I was exhausted (four years apart not twins I should add). I have no regrets about the duration of bfing but I had had enough by the time I stopped and felt no guilt about stopping whatsoever. They both forgot about boob within a week.

NachoAddict Tue 06-Aug-13 22:25:37

I am a long way behind you all with my just one year old. We tried night weaning and had some sucess but a few rough nights and dp forgetting he was supposed to be helping and we have slipped right back into those 3am feeds.

FadBook Tue 06-Aug-13 22:36:05

Nacho - google dr jay Gordon, his method does work for you refusing too. Dd was in her own room but we'd part co sleep as and when really. For night weaning I co slept fully but wrapped myself up in the quilt so she could get to me. I also was more lax with the timings. Pm me for more info if you choose to try it again smile

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