Top mum Samantha Williams is a firm believer that chest is best and she feeds three of her children that way – including a son who is FIVE, the Sunday People reveals today.
Samantha, 42, normally tandem feeds, meaning two at a time. So her five-year-old boy Trevor or daughter Claire, three, will latch on at the same time as seven-month-old Ethan.
She is talking about her natural methods in the light of the revelation the Duchess of Cambridge is breastfeeding her new son Prince George.
Samantha sees it as a step forward. She said: “It will do more to promote breastfeeding than anything that could be said by every doctor or parenting expert in the whole country.”
Sadly, IT worker Samantha has come up against ignorance.
Friends and family have criticised her, claiming the older kids should have stopped years ago. She has even been confronted by waitresses when feeding in restaurants.
She said: “I’ve heard it all. People have asked me to leave the table or go elsewhere to breastfeed many times. Or I’ve been asked to feed in toilets where women are using the next cubicle. A waitress would never ask me to go eat in the toilet, so why should my child?
“I don’t cover myself with a blanket. I just feed them. I’m not trying to make a point – I just believe it’s natural.
“People think we’re weird and we’re setting our kids up to be weird. They think the normal thing is for the mum to cut the kids off at around the age of one and be done with it. I’ve been told the kids will be too attached to me for their own good.
“And some people think I’m being selfish – that I can’t let go of my
babies. I ask them if they really think you can force a child to breastfeed if they don’t want to?
“You can’t really force a child to do anything after about 18 months, let alone latch on to a chest. It’s their choice and they love it.”
She said: “The older two will always feed at the same time as the baby. Sometimes they tell me the milk tastes like a chocolate or strawberry milkshake, other times it’s white milk with sugar.
“They eat a wide range of food like any other kids their age, so can identify what the milk tastes like. I’m not saying kids who aren’t breastfed this long can’t be the same – of course they can.
“I can say for certain I haven’t done them any harm and I really hope I have done them a lot of good.”
The NHS is keen to stress the health benefits of breastfeeding to mother and child. Yet it saw the number of new mums breastfeeding in 2012 decline 5,700 from 2011, the first fall in a decade.
Nearly seven in 10 mums exclusively breastfeed at birth but by three months that is down to 17 per cent.
Samantha said: “I know some people find our choices strange.
“I never intended to breastfeed for so long. I simply felt it was a bit cruel and unfair to just cut the older ones off when it brings so many emotional and physical benefits.”
She said: “I’d never judge another mum for her choosing not to breastfeed but this choice has been fantastic for our family.”
A Department of Health study found children who were breastfed were better adjusted and skilled at getting on with others.
Samantha said: “They’re very attached to me but they also have a very close bond with my husband Eddie and each other. And they love to socialise with others.
“They are incredibly healthy. They don’t have any allergies. They have strong immune systems and none of them are overweight. If they get sick, they snap back to health quickly.”
Production manager Eddie, 48, said: “It doesn’t bother me what anyone else thinks – this is right for our family and that’s what matters.
“Breastfeeding itself is completely natural. It’s cheaper than buying loads of formula. It’s good for the child. It’s nature’s perfect food.
“As for doing it on an extended basis – why not? It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. If you like a food and it’s not harmful – eat it. What’s the problem? Trevor will occasionally come into our bedroom, he’ll see the baby breastfeeding and think, ‘I fancy a bit.’
“It’s not like he’s having it for breakfast, dinner and tea.
“He’s got a normal diet for a five year old. Sometimes he likes to do something that is really friendly and cosy and makes him feel close to his mum.
“And, by the way, it tastes nice. I can’t see a single negative effect it’s had on the children. Sam is a very caring mum. She’s raising our kids in a healthy, positive way.”
The couple use a style of parenting where they aim to be sensitive to their children’s needs.
The older kids don’t feed in public – a choice they made for themselves.
“I think they must have realised it was something other kids their age weren’t doing publicly,” Samantha said.
“Trevor breastfeeds maybe once a week. He’s nearly ready to give it up.
Sometimes he just wants a taste, other times he just wants to know he’s still one of my babies. Claire feeds about once a day. I never encourage them. I follow the ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ method. I only feed when they ask for it.
“I would like to encourage mums to learn more about it for themselves and not to worry about society judging them for doing something that is perfectly healthy and natural.”
Samantha is sure feeding has not distrupted her lifestyle. She said: “I have the odd glass of wine but obviously I have to be sensible. And of course I get tired but so does every mum with three young kids.
“I don’t struggle to produce enough milk. During the last two pregnancies my body produced a bit less, which is normal. But afterwards enough came back in so I could feed all three.”
Samantha, of Newport, Gwent, wants other breastfeeding mums to know they are not alone. “I know some people may find us strange,” she said.
“But I’m really proud of my family and I’m not ashamed of what we do. I hope my story can help empower mothers. I’m thinking of them, not the few silly people who will find be offended by it.
“A support group where I spent time with other breastfeeding mums was really helpful. The more I looked into it the more benefits I found – less obesity, asthma, eczema, allergies. For mothers the benefits are decreased rates of chest cancer and ovarian cancer.
“But I do it mostly for the children. All mums do the best they can for their kids.”