A friend of mine had sent me the link to Sarah’s website when Sam was 3 ½ months and I can still vividly remember reading the testimonial’s and feeling 99% sure that my son Sam was tongue tied. Sam was my second child and it had been a hard and emotional 3 ½ months. When I went into my appointment with Sarah, I was at breaking point and I had made the decision that this was the absolute last resort and if she said he didn’t have tongue tie then I would give up and stop breastfeeding.
Sam had fed reasonably ok for the first week but we ended up at hospital when he was 1 week old with feeding problems where we saw 2 midwives who checked him for tongue tie, “definitely no tongue tie, just a lazy baby” I was told. We had several visits to our GP with his reflux and constipation (who on no occasion suggested tongue tie), and who later referred is to a paediatrician when he began losing weight. The paediatrician checked for, and failed to diagnose his tongue tie and told us there was nothing physically wrong with him and to replace or ‘top up’ Sam’s feeds with formula. I found the whole appointment quite patronising and felt like I was being treated like an irrational crazy lady who was obsessed with breastfeeding my son when quite clearly it was no good for him. My partner wanted to switch to formula feeding and at times I even questioned myself and whether I was being selfish trying to continue breastfeeding my son.
It was after this appointment that I attended a breastfeeding clinic, which was a god send in advising me to express after and in between feeds which ultimately helped me return to fully breastfeeding Sam in time. It was also where several more advisors asked whether he had been checked for tongue tie, however I had been told by many child health experts that my son definitely did not have tongue tie?
It was an emotional time, having a 17month old boy who also needed my attention, yet feeding Sam could take up to an hour at a time with on/off screaming and having to express a bit and then put him back on. As an extremely sociable person, who is always out of the house, I started avoiding being out when I would need to feed Sam as it was such hard work, and also difficult to keep a toddler occupied for that length of time.
Luckily for me, my friends were amazingly supportive and a couple of things made me pursue my gut feeling that there was something wrong with Sam and it wasn’t him just being ‘lazy’ at feeding. At a breastfeeding group, I was feeding Sam whilst chatting to a friend of mine who has a little girl who had recently had her tongue tie snipped; she said to me “Sam feeds just like Fleur” – the keep coming off the nipple, and the way he was throwing his whole head into my boob. She apologised for looking at my boobs, but I was so glad she had said something as I began researching tongue tie and the more I read, the more convinced I was that Sam was tongue tied. I made an appointment with our GP and printed the list from the internet that I had found from an American website – both mum and child ticked most of the boxes for symptoms, marathon feeding sessions, constantly falling off the breast, reflux, mastitis, thrush. It also said that clinicians often failed to diagnose tongue tie. In my experience this was quite clear once again when the GP checked him over and clarified that he was definitely not tongue tied. By this point I wasn’t convinced and I went home and looked up the email address for Sarah Oakley that I friend had sent me, and contacted her to make an appointment.
I saw her a few days later, she listened to his history while he was asleep and literally within a few moments of her examination she confirmed (and I could quite clearly see) his tongue tie. I cannot over emphasis what a difference this has made on our lives. For 3 ½ months, I had an unhappy, unsettled baby who was constantly frustrated and always screaming. Within weeks of being ‘snipped’, he became a happy, laughing healthy boy. It took a little while, but he mastered breastfeeding properly (and comfortably!) and is much happier taking a bottle, where previously milk would spill out everywhere and he would gulp at it. Sarah was very personable and empathetic, but also extremely informative and has always responded to follow up emails with helpful advice. As someone who was hesitant at first as to whether to pay privately to see a specialist, I could not recommend Sarah enough. I can honestly say she has changed our lives for the better and money well spent.
For me, and I’m sure many others, it was an extremely emotional and often lonely time trying to continue breastfeeding a child, whilst being constantly told that you are starving them and to just put them on formula. Innocent comments from people asking if your child is premature can be cutting when you’re feeling low, and constant screaming and not such enjoyable feeding sessions made me doubt and question myself on many occasions. I often wondered, maybe he just doesn’t like boobs – looking back, I can laugh. At the time I remember feeling hopeless, extremely frustrated and at rejected when I was trying my best to care for him. I was lucky that I had breastfed my previous son so had the confidence that I was able to, but my heart goes out to first time mums going through this and the emotional and difficult experience that must be.. I can only hope that even if only one person reads this and relates to any of it, that it may prompt a visit to Sarah, if they are in two minds whether or not to do so.