Extended Breastfeeding - What was your experience?

Mary Renee - posted on 05/02/2011 ( 14 moms have responded )

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Aloha,

My little girl is turning 1 in a few days and I plan to continue breastfeeding for as long as possible. Honestly, I won't actively try to wean her until she's starting pre-school.

That said, I am wondering what other people's experiences were with extended breastfeeding. Right now even though my daughter eats three meals a day and snacks in between, she's still nursing every 2-3 hours and once at night. I wouldn't mind for the sessions to grow further apart as she contines to get more of her calories from food. Sometimes I think honestly she just nurses every 2-3 hours out of habit and for comfort. That said, I might have to go back to work soon, and now that she's going to be old enough for cow-milk instead of fomula, how would that work if she was in a day care?

I'm just hoping to hear what other women's experiences have been like. I have no desire to quit nursing any time soon, I would love to keep the morning and night nursings for literally as long as she wants them (part of it I know is more for me than her because I love the closeness and cuddle time it provides!) but I guess I'm asking about what the very slow and gradual decrease of day time nursing is going to be like over the next year and a half or two.

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Minnie - posted on 05/03/2011

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We're at 2 1/2 years now and we still both enjoy it :). My second didn't begin to take any significant amounts of solid foods until around 18 months or so. She pretty much subsisted off of my milk until then, with tastes of food since 10 months. And it wasn't until oh, maybe 24 months that she went longer than an hour during the day without nursing. And it's been about a month now that she's only woken up once per night to nurse or not at all. It's been very very gradual and actually is really encouraging to me to see reality played out here- that I haven't had to force her to cut back or force her to sleep without nursing (as many have told me I have to). She just is slowly growing out of it. We'll be continuing for as long as we both enjoy it.

Sylvia - posted on 05/02/2011

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OK, first off, way to go! :)

I have an 8.5-year-old who nursed till she was ... somewhere between 4 and 5. (Neither of us remembers exactly when she quit, just that it was between those two birthdays.) I also have two nieces (now 16 and 11) who nursed past their 4th birthdays. So I know a little bit about "extended" nursing (I just think of it as normal nursing, actually, but I realize that's a minority view ;).)

Overall, I'd say my experience was overwhelmingly positive. You can't beat nursing for averting toddler meltdowns, healing playground owies, etc. It's also an excellent way to reconnect at the end of the workday, if you're going back to work. My DD was 13 months when I went back to work -- I was able to tack 4 weeks of vacation onto the end of my mat leave, so I got an extra month -- and was still getting most of her nutrition from nursing. I never really pumped or anything, but what did happen was that she started reverse-cycling, so she was nursing a LOT in the evening and at night. That was pretty tiring, but it may not happen to you, since you said your DD's eating regular meals and snacks. Then again, it might! As you said, nursing isn't just about food.

It's hard to imagine from where you are what nursing a toddler or a preschooler is going to be like. I know I always planned to nurse DD as long as she wanted to keep going, but even so, when she was tiny I couldn't actually imagine what nursing a *kid* was going to look like! What actually happens, though, is that every day you're nursing the same person you nursed yesterday, and before you know it your tiny baby is a bigger baby, and then a toddler, and then ... but every day is almost like the one before, so it kind of creeps up on you :) I've heard from mums who have tandem nursed that they had no idea how big baby #1 had gotten until baby #2 arrived ;)

I'll be honest, there were days when I was just about ready to throw in the towel. Most days, though, I was really glad to still be nursing, and to have that free cuddle time ;)

14 Comments

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Emma - posted on 11/01/2017

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My daughter nursed 3 or 4 times a day til she started school. After that it was just breakfast and bedtime til she self weaned

Kimberly - posted on 05/13/2011

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well my son is now 8 months and still breastfeeding i hope i can go as long as you are. my MIL, breasfeed all her kids till they could walk and help themselves she says lol. and she has 7 very healthy kids. even my husband who is a diabetic, we all agree that if it wasnt for the fact he was breast feed so long he would not be in as good of shape as he is in. he has the worst case of diabetes. his docter has ever seen, and the fact he rarely can afford his medication, his body has learned defences against his low and high blood surgars. it may be completly wrong but i feel its because he was breast fed and i hope i can go as long. to see how much chrildren can benifit from it like that, yeah i want to go as long as i can. i dont know if this is the kind of answer you were looking for but hey lol it was fun

Tammy - posted on 05/13/2011

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Colt is 2 1/2 and still loves "this" (never came up with a name, just "Do you want this?") - I am a single mom and we nurse every morning before getting ready, every day after I pick him up from the sitter, before bed, and again when he wakes around 5am (he falls asleep for another hour or so). He shows no signs of wanting to stop. In fact when he comes home from visiting his father, Colt will push his father out of my house so he can nurse. My motto has been "let him self-wean" - but I wonder if I'll feel that way if he's still nursing at 5,6,7 or 8.

Kelly - posted on 05/06/2011

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I nursed my first until he said he was done at 2 1/2 years. Since your daughter is also eating food and can now have cow's milk, you can cut out a few nursings through the day if you have to go to work, and as long as you still breastfeed a few times a day, your milk shouldn't go away. I returned to work when my son was 1 1/2 and would still nurse him in the morning when we woke up, again right before I left for work, as soon as I got back to him, and a couple times before bed at first, gradually working it down to once in the morning and once before bed before he said he was "too old for nummies". :) Good luck to you!

[deleted account]

My little girl is 20 months old and still nursing A LOT. That said, I've been working half-days since she was six months old and she simply waits til I'm back home. I was pumping until she was 14 months old but she only actually drank my milk from maybe 10 months onwards. If I were you I wouldn't pump at all but maybe gradually get her used to you being away from her for extended periods of time. When Nina was about 17 months old I was away from 8am til 6pm for the first time ever and she didn't even blink an eye. Like you I'm kind of ready for her to slow down during the day though... She just seriously loves those boobs! Day and Night. ALL the time. Then again she is just that kind of child anyway, I'm sure if it wasn't boobs, she'd be bugging me with something else, lol.

Alexandria - posted on 05/04/2011

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we are still nursing at 22 months old and he doesnt seem to want to stop any time we are doing the enfagrow formula since i feel it is more like breast milk then cows

[deleted account]

My son is 3 now and nurses 2-5 times/day and none at night. He was 2 (or a bit over) before he was sleeping through the night w/out nursing... other than a few random times.

I can't remember WHEN he really started to cut down, but I do remember that at a year and a half he was nursing every 1-4 hours......

Mary - posted on 05/04/2011

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we are full term nursing as well. my older daughter is 31 months and my younger is 12 months, both nurse. when i'm at work my mom feeds my daughter what they'd regularly eat just without the breast milk. i tried pumping for them and i get a lot. over 10 ounces but they won't drink it from a cup and since they don't need it for life or death i don't want to waste the milk. they both want to nurse as soon as i walk in and i'm so engorged that i let them. :) very good job! you should be very proud of yourself!

Diana Rose - posted on 05/03/2011

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My youngest is 14 months and she still nurses about 3-4 times a day, morning-before nap-waking form nap-before bed, but I do feel like she nurses for comfort. I do love the time and closeness it provides us with and I dont intend to wean her anytime soon, I'll continue as long as she wants.

I've introduced her to cow milk, in a sippy cup, but she's not crazy about it.

When she was teething, she would wake up in the middle of the night and would want the breast before going back to sleep, but now shes fine, so she sleeps through the night without a feeding.

Stephanie - posted on 05/03/2011

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I have a son who will be turning 2 in July, and he still gets "boobie" at nap and bed time and when he's sick (like now) I find it is a very handy thing when he gets upset when we are out, because he can't scream with a boob in his mouth ;-)

Nicole - posted on 05/02/2011

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I have nursed 3 of mine past a year. The more I have had, the longer I have breastfed. LOL I am still breastfeeding my 19 month old and plan to for at least 5 more months. I agree with Sylvia. There is something about the breast that cures most things! Love it!

[deleted account]

It's been quite simple for us. My daughter wasn't eating a whole lot of solids until 14 months. From there she just gradually went longer and longer between feeds. I didn't have to do much or think about it. My pediatrician told me that as long as she's nursing 3 times/day then she didn't *need* cow's milk. If you wanted you could just have her drink water at daycare. Or you could have her drink cow's milk. It's totally up to you. I got pregnant when she was 16 months old and that's made BF a little bit more challenging. I had to put limits on nursing because it was very painful for a while. I'm 29 weeks now and my daughter is 23 months. She nurses 1-3 times a day depending on what we're doing (she doesn't ask when we're super busy running errands or something). I'm not sure how much her nursing habits will change when baby #2 gets here in July. We'll see...

Amy - posted on 05/02/2011

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My daughter is 13 months and still bf'ing. I have been back to work full time since she was 4 1/2 months. I have no plans of weaning but I no longer pump at work. Cage breastfeeds before I go to work, at night before she goes to sleep and once in the middle of the night (currently 2-3 times because she's teething). As we approached a year I dropped a pumping session at work and at a year I stopped pumping altogether. When I'm home with her she'll nurse before her nap and then once after her nap but before dinner.
As far as during the day my husband gives her water with her meals and only a bottle of whole milk before her nap, or if I'm working late she gets whole milk before bed.
If you want to try going longer between nursing sessions try to change up your routine as it gets close to the time your little one would typically want to nurse. You could go for a walk or run to the store and gradually stretch out the time in between. You could also try offering solids before nursing to get yourself some extra time, or offer water that's what I did. Good luck, hope yhis helps!

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