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Benefits of breastfeeding 'wear off' by 5

(426 Posts)
greygal Thu 15-Feb-18 19:56:01

Had 6 week check for DS today with my GP. He asked all the 'normal' questions, including how I was finding breastfeeding.

I've been really lucky and had no pain, soreness etc and DS is gaining wait incredibly well so I explained that despite my longest sleep in 6 weeks being 4 hours in one go, I felt that it was going really well and felt positive about continuing.

He then launched into a rant about there being far too much pressure on mothers to breastfeed and that by the age of 5, any benefits to a baby of being breast-fed had worn off!

AIBU to wonder why the bloody hell we're all bothering (especially people who have cracked, bloody nipples/ blocked milk ducts/ mastitis etc)?

Is it true that there is no difference between a breast fed and formula fed child by 5 years of age?

Hedgehoghogger Thu 15-Feb-18 19:57:09


But even if they did wear off at 5, that would still be pretty great!

kaytee87 Thu 15-Feb-18 19:57:43

I think thats a question that no one can answer for sure.
I think the dr was trying to be supportive to you though by suggesting if you're too tired to carry on, it's ok to stop.
You sound like you're getting on well though smile

puglife15 Thu 15-Feb-18 20:00:11

Also there are health benefits to mother.

puglife15 Thu 15-Feb-18 20:01:03

And without wanting to be dismissive of your sleep situation that sounds on the good side of normal...

GummyGoddess Thu 15-Feb-18 20:02:52

It's true there's no statistical difference in ability by the time a chile is 5. There was an Irish study about it quite recently.

I chose to breastfeed because I thought it would be better on dc's new stomach and then because it was easy and made him happy. It isn't a waste of time if it makes your dc happy.

The other benefits are that it's cheaper than formula, in my case it was easier, it helps them sleep, helps prevent ear infections and if they have cmpa then it's perfect food for them.

Dc was also mix fed for the first few months, formula isn't evil, but it doesn't have the other benefits that breastfeeding does.

MrGrumpy01 Thu 15-Feb-18 20:03:20

Even if they have (though I am not convinced they do) it still does not change the fact that current research shows that through bf'ing I have reduced my risk of breast cancer, and if I have lowered it to being closer to the risk of the general public rather than my significantly increased risk then that is a win for me.

DilysMoon Thu 15-Feb-18 20:03:27

No idea, but having benefits up to age 5 are pretty great anyway I'd say! In my very small experience of my 3dc the bf 2 have had noticeably fewer/none chest/ear infections, colds, illnesses etc compared to the non bf dc and they are way past age 5.

puglife15 Thu 15-Feb-18 20:05:14

If the study is just on ability then that's a tiny fraction of what's important... I would think gut health is pretty high up the list.

GummyGoddess Thu 15-Feb-18 20:06:05

Here you go smile

dramalamma Thu 15-Feb-18 20:06:19

What a load of rubbish! Breastfeeding sets up the microbiome for life. The doc is talking out of his proverbial and I think I’d complain - it’s hard enough to be supported with breastfeeding without a badly informed go sticking his oar in.

Allthewaves Thu 15-Feb-18 20:06:54

It's the way nature intended. For me it saved us a fortune

greygal Thu 15-Feb-18 20:07:52

Yeah, feeling pretty good with 4 hours! I often get a couple of 3 hour stints as well after the initial 4.

Just such a bizarre thing to say to someone who has just told you they plan to ebf for 6 months!

Let me also be clear: I'd not moaned about the sleep: I'd just said "obviously I'm tired as he feeds at least ever four hours and often more frequently during the day."

I wonder where he gets his info from? I can't find anything to support it...

teaandbiscuitsforme Thu 15-Feb-18 20:09:22

Sounds like a load of shit to me but how could they ever test it? Too many other factors will have come in to play by the time a child is 5.

I don't think they will ever truly know the benefits of breastfeeding because it would completely unethical to do a proper study. But to me, I felt the benefits to my kids and to me were so great that I wanted to keep breastfeeding as long as was working for us. I was like you - no pain, all going well, why would you do anything different?

Carry on, sounds like you're doing a great job!

TheDailyMailIsADisgustingRag Thu 15-Feb-18 20:10:24

I’ve never heard that one before...

He probably was trying to be supportive. My dad is a doctor and doesn’t ‘buy’ the benefits of breastfeeding either. He was formula fed though and happens to be very healthy and has had a great career, so wonder if that has something to do with his view on it.

But I don’t really get why formula feeding would necessarily mean more sleep anyway..? I mix fed my dc1 and she was not a good sleeper, regardless of formula / breast feeds / both.

Passmethecrisps Thu 15-Feb-18 20:10:40

I am another saying that even if it does wear off, the shorter term benefits make it worthwhile anyway.

My baby dd was exposed to scarlet fever twice in her first few months (the first time she was 2 days old) when her big sister got it. The hospital doc wanted older sister sent to stay with someone else due to the perceived risk to baby whereas the GP was confident that BFing was likely to help protect her. Now my evidence is utterly anecdotal but I think even emotionally it felt ‘safer’

greygal Thu 15-Feb-18 20:12:16

Thanks for the link Gummy - interesting!

I'm def going to continue due to all the reasons you've all mentioned and because I'm far too lazy to sterilise bottles etc but honestly, what a pillock to be telling new mothers this! I imagine that if I'd been struggling, I would be seriously considering giving up.

V good point that benefits up to the age of 5 are pretty important though!

AntiHop Thu 15-Feb-18 20:13:20

Your gp is wrong. Breastfeeding has long term health benefits. That's why the NHS funds breastfeeding support. Because it saves the NHS money in the long run.

greygal Thu 15-Feb-18 20:14:21

@AntiHop can we find any research to support this?

GummyGoddess Thu 15-Feb-18 20:14:51

I think the benefits of breastfeeding have been vastly overstated to try and encourage it. E.g. antibodies can't pass through the gut wall so the milk can only protect against gut borne infections but everyone is told that they pass on all immunity to their child.

Still planning on breastfeeding dc2 as long as they want when they arrive, I just think that the benefit is not as good as it's claimed (even though it is pretty great).

SaucyJack Thu 15-Feb-18 20:15:35


Try making up bottles in the middle of the night, and see if you still think breast-feeding is the bother.

It's free, and on tap. I have sympathy for those who've struggled with breastfeeding, but BF a six week old should be seen as the "norm"- not an additional bother. Which it wasn't IME.

user1471459936 Thu 15-Feb-18 20:16:40

My child is refusing to give up breastfeeding despite being 3.5 years old. So may well still be directly benefiting from it at 5 years old shock

greygal Thu 15-Feb-18 20:17:10

I don't mean to drip feed but he also took one look at DS: born at 8lb 15oz and now a pretty chunky 12lb and said, "you'll be weaning him at 4 months unless you want to be feeding every hour of the day..." hmm

greygal Thu 15-Feb-18 20:18:02

So maybe he's just a bit of a twat.

Roseandmabelshouse Thu 15-Feb-18 20:18:32

I've yet to meet a GP who really knows their stuff about bf!

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