‘I've lost count of how many women's babies I've breastfed'
New UK|August 2, 2021
Samantha Gadsden loved nursing her own kids so much it just felt natural to become a wet nurse
SUSANNA GALTON

Professional doula Samantha, 50, is mum to Elliott, 13, Cara, 11, and Trystan, eight, as well as her adult son. She is married to Ed, 56, who’s self-employed, and the family live in the Welsh town of Caerphilly. Here, she shares her experience of breastfeeding not only her own babies but other women’s too...

I never set out to become any kind of breastfeeding advocate and certainly not a wet nurse. In fact, when I had my first son, now 26, from a previous relationship, I only fed him for six weeks before I had to go back to part-time accounting. There was nowhere near as much support or information about breastfeeding and parenting online as there is today.

When I got married to Ed in 2008, I knew that I wanted to parent differently.

I adored breastfeeding our eldest child Elliott and all the happy oxytocin hormones that came with it. It was so much easier than faffing around sterilising and preparing bottles.

When Elliott was about 18 months old, I briefly tried to wean him off the boob but he kept clawing at me and fussing. It was clearly making him unhappy, so I just carried on. He hated touching fabric when he was feeding – we later discovered he has autism – so I couldn’t discreetly use a nursing bra, I had to get the whole boob out every time.

But I quickly overcame my shyness and ignored people frowning or telling me I should “go to the toilet” to feed. Breasts have been so sexualised in the UK, when they are just mammary glands and made for feeding.

When our daughter Cara came along, I fed her and Elliott in tandem. Then, when Trystan arrived, I fed all three for a while. The body is amazing and each breast adapts to the needs of the child, so once the very early days are over your breast will produce milk perfectly adapted to each child feeding from it.

Even more amazing is that if one child has a bug, or you do, your milk produces protective antibodies.

I allowed each child to nurse for as long as they wanted. This used to be called “extended breastfeeding” but I prefer the phrase “natural term weaning”. Elliott and Cara continued feeding until they were around five-and-a-half. From around two years, they stopped doing it in public – it was as though they sensed that they “shouldn’t”.

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