I have to admit to being a bit of a media lover – I have been on local and national radio, The Lorraine Show, in the BBC news, Fabulous Magazine, The Sun, The Mirror, The Sunday People and a variety of magazines, and guest blogging, promoting positive parenting, tandem feeding, wet nursing and general interest as well as breast feeding and doulaing.
I actually paid for my doula training course with the first ever article I did – was initially going to be in the Sun but ended up in the Sunday People, having been out celebritied by Kate Middleton. I thought using my breast feeding story to pay for my doula training was a really good investment. This was before I was brave so I name changed.
I really enjoy bringing the world of positive and attachment parenting into the mainstream and promoting the work of Doulas and hypnobirthing into the national and local press as well.
I had a small part in contributing to research carried out by Dr. Mari Greenfield – “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Considering “Freebirth” During Covid-19“.
I am thrilled to see academic research being carried out on this often frowned up birth choice, my course in a group is going from strength to strength.
Communities such as the Freebirth and Emergency Childbirth Support Group—a UK fee-based Facebook group—have been created on social media during the pandemic. This group provided information to almost 300 expectant parents, healthcare professionals and birth supporters.
December 2020 finds me working with a journalist from The Guardian. I have had many journalist requests during the pandemic and each one has to be carefully vetted to ensure there will be no ridicule of myself and more importantly my clients and group members. This article ‘Women feel they have no option but to give birth alone’: the rise of freebirthing.’ was an important, balanced piece about the rise of freebirth during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Wales-based doula Samantha Gadsden set up a nominal fee-based Facebook group on freebirthing in March, because she was getting so many inquiries. It now has nearly 300 members and numbers spiked again following the second lockdown. “People were getting nervous, because they knew home births were cancelled before,” she says. Membership of her other Facebook group, Home Birth Support Group UK, has more than doubled since March, from 2,700 to 6,390.
Gadsden, who insists she does not advocate for any particular type of birth, says her members have felt unsupported in their decisions. “There are pockets of excellence, but what I’m hearing more and more is that women are being coerced and disrespected.”
This finds me in Grazia magazine – if I had known I would have bought a copy, but I just found it online looking for something else.
Three years ago, Kayleigh Holmes from South Wales was taken ill with an inflamed gallbladder and rushed to hospital. At the time, she had 14-month-old twins. ‘I was really unwell and on medication which meant I couldn’t breastfeed,’ she says. ‘And the babies were refusing formula.’ is, at an already difficult time, was incredibly stressful. ‘I was becoming quite panicked,’ explains Kayleigh, now 28.
Then someone put her in touch with a birth doula called Samantha Gadsden. ‘I started talking to Samantha via Facebook Messenger and within 30 minutes she’d turned up at my house, where the twins were with my partner while I was still in hospital,’ Kayleigh recalls. The babies were unreceptive to bottles, so Samantha breastfed them. Kayleigh, lying in her hospital bed, received a photo of her twins, ‘latched on and feeding. At first, it was a little overwhelming to see a perfect stranger feeding my babies,’ she remembers. ‘I was in hospital, alone and in a lot of pain. But it was also a huge relief to know that they were OK and well fed. I felt comforted.’
Samantha and Kayleigh have since become friends. ‘I’m in awe of Sam for doing that,’ Kayleigh says. ‘She had no obligation to help me, but she did it anyway.’ Samantha, 48, says that while this kind of milk sharing may be ‘a bit underground’, there is a growing community blossoming online of women who want to help each other. This includes Facebook page Human Milk for Human Babies, which has chapters all over the world; the UK account alone has over 21,000 likes. ‘I don’t think we are meant to raise our children alone. We’re meant to be part of a network and help each other out,’ says Samantha.
“Meanwhile, doula Samantha Gadsden – a birth companion to pregnant women – said she saw some “pretty horrible things” while working in Cwm Taf.
“Coerced vaginal examinations, lack of informed consent, free-birthing women – choosing to give birth without a midwife – being reported to social services and I witnessed a midwife lose her temper and walk out of a house with a baby without telling the parents,” said Ms Gadsen.
“One of my clients was criticised for her choice to free birth while her baby was there fitting in the hospital and she was there still being told off by the consultant.”
Ms Gadsden told BBC Wales she was “shocked” the problems have only just come to light, but insists there have been improvements.
“There was a time when I would literally put my head in my hands knowing I was going to be working in that health board but that is no longer the case.
“There are new consultant midwives, there’s the new birth centre there, so things are changing.”
I have to say I felt quite let down by the BBC, while their newreport in writing repeated accurately my words, the new reports on the national news made me out to be a lot more critical of the Trust than I was.
March 2019 – Interview with Lisa From Women Are Amazing
Samantha on BBC Radio Cymru.
“Taking Cara to see the inside of the BBC Studios while I talk about co-sleeping”
March 2019 – BBC News, they contacted me to seek my views on home birth and the Community Midwives Trial of delivery bags.
“Anything that interrupts the hormonal flow of birth can lead to changes in the birth.
“When you go from your own home where you’re comfortable and safe to a hospital environment where you’re bombarded with questions and it’s bright and white, it’s not a conducive environment for birth.”
Ms Gadsden, who had two home births, said transfers to hospital were usually needed for more pain relief or labour was not progressing within specified timelines and “life or death emergencies” were rare.
“You have to spend the early part of your birth at home anyway and if you need intervention at home, the chances are you would have needed it at hospital.
“Your favourite doula is in the media again. The Sun’s Fabulous Magazine.
I didn’t realise it was such a “thing”. I’m quite proud of this article – and that it’s in the mainstream.
January 2019 – Top 10 UK Doula Bloggers
This was quite funny, as they had emailed me and I thought it was just spam – until my doula colleagues started to message me congratulations (I also hit this list in 2018 and had completely ignored it for the same reason!!
But mother-of-three Samantha Gadsden, a Caerphilly-based doula (a woman who supports another woman during pregnancy and birth), said advice on bed-sharing can vary depending on the health provider’s personal opinion.
“It’s biologically normal to co-sleep,” she said.”But you still get the ‘oh my god you’re going to kill your baby’, from healthcare professionals and other parents which puts babies more at risk as women are falling asleep on sofas and armchairs trying to stay awake.
Ms Gadsden added parents should be given all the information including the potential benefits of co-sleeping such as helping babies to regulate temperature and breathing – along with an explanation of how it can be risky.
She said discouraging co-sleeping when other risk factors are not present was “coercion and scare-mongering, and treating women like they are not intelligent”, but said she had experienced this herself as had many of her clients.
This was followed by a live radio interview for BBC Radio Wales, which like a lot of the media she has done, Sam forgot to record.
As a follower of the BabyBelly.com website (in Australia) – I was thrilled when they picked up my breast feeding story – and was happy to share with them, link HERE.
“Samantha told BellyBelly: “I do believe there is a need for more women to know they have options other than breast, expressing and formula. Even World Health Education guidelines put donor milk above formula”.
This is one of my favourite articles I have done – the BBC did me very proud.
The full article is linked HERE.
“Here, a mother-of-three from Caerphilly shares her experience of breastfeeding other women’s babies.
Samantha Gadsden knows breastfeeding can be a contentious issue – especially when the baby you are feeding belongs to another woman.
She has been volunteering her time – and her breasts – to other women’s babies since first becoming a mother herself 10 years ago.
“I can’t even remember any more how many booby brothers and sisters my children have,” the 47-year-old said.”
I had a lot of positive feedback from this, along with the odd accusation of child abuse and being told I should be hung, but I excepted that and it was water off a ducks back,
This is the is the sort of thing from Cafe Mum, “Mum Goes Overboard“, because I needed random strangers on the internet to tell me what was best for me and my children – triandem feeding is not for everyone – but these were amongst the happiest days of my life and I wouldn’t change a thing.