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To wonder how much breastfeeding matters 14 years on?

(314 Posts)
ringle Mon 25-Sep-17 21:42:40

Genuine question. I bf both my kids with relatively few problems, mostly because I found it enjoyable.

But looking back it doesn't seem that big a deal.

What's prompted this is a couple of people testifying on another thread that their ongoing efforts to bf drove them to depression.

What are the stats?

OddestSock Mon 25-Sep-17 21:45:37

When it doesn't work, the feeling of failure can be overwhelming. I didn't breastfeed my oldest (7) for various reasons & for a long time afterwards, it felt that anything else I did right was completely insignificant because I had failed so badly at breastfeeding.

She's 7 now. It hasn't mattered for a long time.

TheMasterNotMargarita Mon 25-Sep-17 21:47:06

No idea. But the point should be it doesn't actually matter as long as your baby is fed.
I can't be doing with the whole bf v ff and the drama that some folk surround it with.
Bf has many proven benefits to mother and baby but those fall by the wayside if the health of baby and mother are affected, and I do include mental health.
Feed your baby, by the time they are 5 even no one will give a shit how you did it.

ujerneyson Mon 25-Sep-17 21:49:29

Not. A. Jot. I have absolutely no clue which of my kids school friends were breastfed or not. one of mine wasn't breastfed, I don't think the fact that I failed at it has crossed my mind in the last 14.5 years. He's 15

ringle Mon 25-Sep-17 21:50:26

Seems about right to me.

There lots I'm proud of and a few things I regret. Bf doesn't seem important enough to be in either camp.

PenelopeChipShop Mon 25-Sep-17 21:50:44

It's an interesting question. I've heard the old chestnut 'you can't tell which kids in their reception class were breastfed vs formula fed' which is true. I imagine that by the teenage years it wouldn't occur to most people to even make a connection between what was going on with their kid and whether they were bf... it's not as if there's anything they can do about it then!

That said mine are 5 and 1 (the little one is still breastfed and her brother went on until he was 3) and I am glad I did it and I do think I can see some benefits - the 5yo has a very robust immune system, he's almost never ill. But that could just be good luck or good genes I guess.

The main benefits are through the time you actually do it, I would say. It's hugely helpful when they're ill and can't/won't eat anything else. Both mine have had hospital stays for common but quite bad illnesses and on both occasions I remember thinking that if they hadn't been breastfeeding it would have been worse due to dehydration.

I imagine I won't be thinking of this sort of thing in ten years though!

BakedBeans47 Mon 25-Sep-17 21:51:03

It’s hard when you are in that place and can’t see the wood for the trees. I was so upset when I failed to BF my first, but by the time I had had my second I realised it wasn’t worth one ounce of the upset and tears I had gone through x of course I will never know the difference there would have been if my kids were bf and they wouldn’t promote it as best if it wasn’t, but infant feeding really isn’t the be all and end all x

WiIdfire Mon 25-Sep-17 21:54:43

It does make a difference. That is why there is all the fuss promoting it. Those who say they can't tell which children were bf in a class - do you have all their medical records? For yourself it will have decreased your risk of breast cancer.

Is it enough of a difference to suffer depression because of it? No.

I didn't manage to bf DS1 for more than a few days due to struggling after an emcs. He is 14, healthy, over 91st centile for height, sporty and doing fine in school. I don't think formula feeding has held him back.

BackieJerkhart Mon 25-Sep-17 21:57:42

I bfed DS1 for 7 weeks and DS2 for 20 months.

DS1 was sleeping 7-7 from 9 weeks and napped twice a day until he was 2 years old. I went back to work when he was 5 months and life was really a doddle. Other than chicken pox at 7 months old he never gets ill. Even colds don't take much out of him. All in all I was getting a full night's sleep and really didn't feel like parenting was all that hard <fool that I was!>

DS2 didn't sleep at all during the day in longer than 3 minutes bursts. He didn't sleep through at night until...... he is 8 (years) and still wakes during the night. I co slept in an attempt to get some sleep. He is still in my fucking bed. Did I mention he is 8 YEARS old? He had croup several times as a baby and comes down with the most awful barking cough at least twice a year. He regularly catches D&V bugs. I went back to work when he was 9 months old but gave up as I was so exhausted having had no sleep I just couldn't function. I was also constantly worrying about expressing enough milk whilst at work to keep him going at the childminders. There was never enough. I got very bad PND that I still feel like I am recovering from 8 years down the line. It has had huge negative impact on my life and job prospects.

If I had another baby I would FF without a second's thought and not a hint of guilt. I couldn't risk going through what I am still going through again with another baby.

QuentinSummers Mon 25-Sep-17 21:57:48

Oh. It's a big deal to me purely because I enjoyed it and have good memories of cuddling my kids and sleepy night feeds. However I would probs feel the same if I'd bottle fed. I'm still glad I breastfed tho and my eldest is 14

kaitlinktm Mon 25-Sep-17 21:58:53

Honestly - I don't think it matters at all. Mine were ebf to 6 months and then some bf went on until they were about 18 months. They are in their 30s now and both smoke and drink - sometimes I wonder why I bothered! sad

ringle Mon 25-Sep-17 21:59:21

"I can see some benefits "

That's the thing though: how can we know any particular individual benefits?

I'm perfectly happy to be chuffed that it was convenient to bf.

WashingMatilda Mon 25-Sep-17 22:00:36

A 5 minute Google search has answered your question OP.

'Breastfeeding as an infant can lead to higher IQ, especially if breastfed exclusively and for a longer period of time.
Babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of obesity later in life.
Children and adults who were breastfed have a lower rate of food allergies, asthma, eczema, Celiac Disease, and Type I and Type II diabetes, among others'

www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/mar/18/brazil-longer-babies-breastfed-more-achieve-in-life-major-study

www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/breastfeeding/why-breast-is-best/7-ways-breastfed-babies-become-healthier-adults

www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/breastfeeding/why-breast-is-best/7-ways-breastfed-babies-become-healthier-adults

cwsglobal.org/the-short-and-long-term-benefits-of-breastfeeding/

Breastfeed or don't, but I'm kind of tired of people who FF saying it doesn't matter and there is so much pressure to BF when this country has one of the lowest rates of BF in the world.

kaitlinktm Mon 25-Sep-17 22:02:37

Interesting Matilda - I was FF and suffer with quite a few of the things mentioned there whereas my sons don't. Still, they could undo all the good work with their current lifestyles.

londonrach Mon 25-Sep-17 22:02:50

No difference in the babies i know at a year (they all doing the same things approx the same times) so cant see it makes any difference by teenage years. The only difference is in my circle (so limit of 30 babies) the ff dont get as ill and slept through and better Earlier.

Wildfire
I don't think the decreased risk of breast cancer is as clear cut as your post suggests. The reduction is small and appears to be dependent on your age when you have the children and how long you breastfeed, with the greatest impact in those who have breastfed for more than one year. Nobody is sure why it occurs.

Out2pasture Mon 25-Sep-17 22:04:25

I think the benefits are in long term health to both the mom (decreased cancer) and the child (decreased ear infections, less allergies, lower rate of asthma, celiac disease, diabetes and higher IQ if bf exclusively for a long period of time).
But Fed is best and bf can be impossible for some and really really difficult for others.

ListeningSkillz Mon 25-Sep-17 22:04:53

It doesn't matter to me personally now 6 years later that I couldn't. However it mattered to the extent of PND back then.

Now I just can't stand the judgemental attitudes I see around infant feeding. I hope that people genuinely don't try to be as cruel to each other as they come across. I worry for people who are in the same predicament now as I was in back then. It was a horrible, lonely and vulnerable time.

Looneytune253 Mon 25-Sep-17 22:06:30

Obv you've got to do what's right for you but you can't deny the benefits of breastfeeding. There'll always be someone that comes with their anecdotal 'evidence' that 'my little Johnny wasn't breastfed and he's a little genius' or 'my little Lucy was breastfed and she has lots of allergies'. I think we have to remember that on the whole, when it's appropriate for you, bf is best for baby. If you can and want to of course. Probably doesn't make that much difference in the grand scheme of things but it may make a little difference so it's worth doing when you can.

BackieJerkhart Mon 25-Sep-17 22:06:45

Breastfeed or don't, but I'm kind of tired of people who FF saying it doesn't matter

I'm a person who BF saying it doesn't matter.

and there is so much pressure to BF when this country has one of the lowest rates of BF in the world.

There is. There really is. Just look at the sheer number of threads on MN about feeding for starters. Before you even get to your antenatal appointments and all the crap shared on the FB parenting groups you join.

DramaAlpaca Mon 25-Sep-17 22:07:42

I breastfed my two eldest DC for 9 & 8 months without any problems. When I had DC3 I assumed it would be just as easy, but for some reason he failed to gain weight & I had to switch to mixed feeding after six weeks. I struggled with mixed feeding until he was four months when I finally admitted defeat and stopped trying to breastfeed. The stress of all that triggered postnatal depression. Looking back I wish I hadn't put so much pressure on myself.

Fast forward to now, youngest DC has just turned 20. Our bond has always been just as strong as with my other two DC and he has always been just as healthy. The struggles with breastfeeding ceased to matter many years ago thankfully.

BananaShit Mon 25-Sep-17 22:10:38

You'll need a bit more than a quick google search to get anything close to an accurate picture, given the poor state of quite a lot of research and the massive number of confounders. But if you are googling, try Probit. Not Dr Seats.

OP even taking the claims made in some of the research at their highest and assuming confounders could actually be controlled for (good luck with that) the impact is significant at a societal level. Not so much individual.

That is not to say that it doesn't remain a significant matter for many women, be it positive or negative memories. And that's valid.

Dawnedlightly Mon 25-Sep-17 22:11:29

Meh. It's one thing to not beat myself up about. Not a great mum tbh but it's one thing I did well.

Fernanie Mon 25-Sep-17 22:11:32

I think the benefits on an individual basis are impossible to prove because there are so many other confounding factors. The evidence suggests that BF is beneficial on a large scale, but within those large groups there'll be plenty of EBF children who grow up to develop T1 diabetes, asthma, allergies etc, and plenty of FF children who grow up perfectly healthy.
My sister's FF daughter is her healthiest while her EBF son has severe asthma and a couple of allergies. My siblings and I were all EBF for 6 months but between us we have asthma, eczema, hayfever, and coeliac disease.
The research can only tell us about wider trends; it can never tell us how it's going to impact a particular individual.
(FWIW, I'm not a BF sceptic by any means, though my post might sound that way!)

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