How long is it "normal" to breastfeed for?
I've just read lots of conflicting information and I"d like to know how long you did it for and why.
And the more you read the more conflicting it will be!
I was the 'abnormal' one in my group of friends. We had issues along the road but I weaned DS at 12 mo. We went through breast refusal at 9 wo so I was expressing every feed, and then not long after he went the other way & went through bottle refusal & would hang out for me to get home so I couldn't leave him with either EBM or formula
I had 'no choice' but to BF until 12 mo when he could have exclusively cow's milk. Even then he wanted it in a cup & not in a bottle. My initial intention was to BF until 12 mo, but when we were having so many issues up until 9 wo I thought "if I can get to 3 mo I'll be happy". Our next goal was 6 mo. By then things were perfect & we didn't have another problem (other than bottle refusal
My friends on the other hand - one couldn't wait to get to 3 mo because she hated everything about BFing but wanted to give her DS what she could. He was then FF. Another couple I think got to 6 mo, but they were all having formula for at least one feed a day from earlier than when they were weaned. One weaned because she was going back to work, and the other weaned because her baby preferred a bottle by then & she was happy enough that she'd got to 6 months. Everyone's reasons for weaning were different...
And the other thing I'll add is that I hadn't even considered formula for DS because I was "going to BF". We were nearly kept in what felt like detention, because the hospital weren't going to let us go home if DS couldn't attach & suck properly. I was in tears at the thought that I would have FF him & that we were being 'kept back' because we couldn't get it right. So even if you intend to BF, please keep it in the back of your mind that there might be setbacks right from the start. The thing that got us through though was persistence. I set myself time limits instead of just deciding "that's it!" and giving up. When he was 9 wo & wouldn't have a bar of me I stopped offering him a boob for a day so he got over his fear of it. Turns out it was the letdown coming early that he didn't like, so in the end I would only offer the later feeds that were slower, until he got used to it & slowly introduced the other ones back. I'd set my limit that I could persist with expressing every feed until he was 3 mo & then I would stop. We were back on track before then & I was then able to set my next goal that I would persist with whatever I had to until 6 mo. It made it much easier to continue knowing that if it wasn't working that there was an end in sight. Like being on a treadmill & knowing that there's only 2 minutes left - 2 minutes is do-able when you're knackered, but if it was to go as long as you could you'd just give up when you'd had enough - even though in reality you had another 2 minutes left in you IYKWIM?
Good luck! Have your intentions in mind but be prepared that you might have to reassess along the way. And my main advice is to not just give up one day 'because it's all too hard'. If you really want to BF then seek help if you need to but stick with it & chances are things will improve.
Oh, and in regards to extended BFing - it's not for me I don't think, but each to their own with what they choose & I generally don't judge. I do think it's a 'little odd' though for an 8 yo to still be BFing... I don't know where I would draw the line though before I starting thinking like that...