Can you be addicted to having babies?

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

Sue and Noel Radford from the UK never planned to have a large family.

Sue, 43, fell pregnant with her first child, Chris, when she was just 14. In their early days of parenthood, the couple originally planned to have "maybe three children," Noel has said in the past.

But they enjoyed having children so much, they went on to expand - and expand - their clan.

The  ever-growing Radford family.
The ever-growing Radford family.  Photo: Facebook

They're now the proud parents of 20 children: Chris, 28, Sophie, 23, Chloe, 22, Jack, 20, Daniel, 18, Luke and Millie 16, Katie, 14, James, 13, Ellie, 12, Aimee, 11, Josh, 10, Max, 8, Tillie, 7, Oscar, 5, Casper, 4, Hallie, 2, Phoebe, 13 months, and Archie, who was born premature, and is now 9 months old. They also suffered a stillbirth in 2014.

But that's not all; they've now announced they're expecting again, with a baby girl on the way.

While Noel has addressed the couple's love of children, he's also said in a past interview: "We're addicted to having all these kids".

Naturally, that begs the question: Can you be addicted to having children?

Amanda Bude, midwife at Groovy Babies, certainly thinks you can feel that way about giving birth.

"With positive birth experiences I've had many families say they could give birth over and over again - myself included."

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She recalls a mother who came in to have her eleventh baby.

"She just loved birth, loved kids. She loved the high of the endorphins (natural opiates)."

Amanda says that high is so intense that, in the absence of fear, it can be "up to 200 times stronger than a morphine injection".

It's that incredible high that Sadie* craves.

"I am addicted to the act of giving birth," she admits.

"Those moments of birthing my babes were the most incredible, empowering, pleasurable, feminine, transformational experiences of my life… So much so that I did it twice in 12 months!"

While Sadie loves giving birth, she doesn't necessarily want a large family. So, in a bid to curb her "addiction" the mother of two started working as a doula.

"Inspiring other women to rock their births will (hopefully) stop me from getting pregnant again!"

While Sadie's addicted to giving birth, there are women who harbour the same thoughts about pregnancy.

Take Tara Sawyer, for example. The mother of four has also been a surrogate three times.

"Surrogacy is very addictive," Tara said in an interview from 2014.

"It's a huge rush from the moment the test comes back positive… I feel at my best whilst pregnant."

She explained that, even though she knew she didn't want more of her own children, she was "desperately craving the pregnancy" after it was done.

It's those intensely joyous feelings that people miss after pregnant or giving birth that may make them feel they're "addicted" to these experiences.

Yet, you can't actually be addicted to having children, says clinical psychologist Dr Nicole Highet, founder of COPE, the Centre of Perinatal Excellence.

She says being a parent can be an important part of your "identity or aspirational self," which can make people feel the need to have lots of offspring.

"[And] you may miss some of the joys or special feelings that can come with aspects of pregnancy and parenthood [too]".

But, she reminds, raising children is a whole different kettle of fish from those early, hormone-saturated highs.

So, just because you miss those highs, doesn't mean you should necessarily add to your family.

While she doesn't believe people can actually be addicted to having children, there are those - like Amy Green - who feel differently.

In 2016, then 31 year-old Amy, a mother of eight, opened up about her feelings in an interview with the Sun.

"Every time I had a baby I was so broody to have more," she said.

"It's definitely an addiction! It's like a drug; as soon as one stopped breastfeeding I just wanted to be pregnant and do it all again."

Time will only tell if the Radfords will continue to "feed their addiction" and add even more bundles of joy to their brood.

* Not her real name