Arabella was born at the Rosie, after complications arose at our planned home birth and we were transferred. We ended up having an epidural though still delivered her vaginally, so had to stay in hospital overnight. To be honest I had no clue about breast feeding, other than it being something I felt passionate about doing. Immediately after birth I put her to my breast, and throughout that night-though with little help from the midwives on the ward. I asked for assistance and confirmation I was doing ok and was given the standard NHS booklet plus a few words, no time really. In the morning Arabella was checked over and the midwife looked inside her mouth, informing me she didn’t have a tongue tie. Although I didn’t ask for this information I felt very relieved as my friends daughter had one and I knew the difficulties she had faced.
We went home and I carried on with feeding. Initially I had very sore, cracked bleeding nipples. I can remember feeling very unsure if I was getting the latch right, and being in tears with my mum in concern. I brought this up at my first few home visits from the midwives and did receive verbal advice from one, and was shown a technique to help her latch by another. We still struggled on, being very sore and unsure!
At about 2 weeks feeding had seemed to improve for a bit but then worsened again with a shallow latch, lots of clicking noises and gulping. A group of new mums I had met were going along to the breast feeding group run by Sarah so I agreed to go too. It was a very busy group but Sarah came round to every one of us asking us how we were doing. She sat with me for a while asking questions about our issues and I told her about the above problems whilst she watched us nurse. She asked if Arabella had been checked for tongue tie and I told her she had in the hospital. After more questions and observations she asked if she could have a look in Arabella’s mouth just to check. She immediately confirmed what she later told me she suspected, she did have a tongue tie. We discussed the various options available to us, but I trusted Sarah’s diagnosis and asked her to treat it ASAP. She agreed to visit us at home that afternoon. After giving us all the information and talking through what she would do, she promptly and sympathetically cut Arabella’s tongue tie on our pool table! I was obviously very upset but she stayed with us for a long time afterwards supporting us to feed and gently advising us on further things we could do to aid feeding. As well as her fantastic service whilst with us, Sarah checked in with us the day afterwards and continued to offer advice and guidance at the groups throughout the next few weeks.
At around 3-4 weeks post tongue tie division we noticed some reoccurrence of the previous symptoms but much worsened, especially the ‘slipping off’ my nipple. I got back in touch with Sarah and she instantly responded, genuinely concerned for our new problems and guessing the tongue tie had returned. She arranged to come out that evening, despite being at work 20 miles away and in the middle of moving house! And she again promptly diagnosed regrowth of the tongue tie and performed the division. This time I was even more upset, Arabella was bigger and seemed more distressed by the division which before she coped with very well. But Sarah again stayed with us and really supported me throughout the next few days both in email and face to face at the groups. I have had a lot of fears about the tongue tie coming back again, and have at times seemed neurotic I’m sure! Sarah has never made me feel I am a pain though, having endless patience with my questions!
Arabella is now 6 months old and we continue to have a really special nursing relationship. Not only has Sarah helped me re arabellas tongue tie though, in her role as a lactation consultant she has provided endless advice and support re various feeding issues that have arisen. She has also given me a lot of support about other issues such as co sleeping, baby wearing and baby led weaning. I’ve always trusted Sarah implicitly, she demonstrates her knowledge not only with research and evidence but stories about other mothers and her own experiences, adding such a human, empathic element to her professional roles. I have no doubt that without Sarah’s input we would not be where we are now in our breast feeding journey, we have so much to thank her for.’