Not just a “typical reflux baby,”
Baby’s name: Louis
Mum’s name: Lucie
Baby’s age when treated: 7 months
Lucie Biddle , 32, from Liversedge, West Yorkshire, turned to Milk Matters when her son, Louis, was seven months old.
Louis is Lucie’s third son and was delivered by planned c-section. She was warned this may make him more unsettled than other babies.
Lucie was also told Louis had a small tongue tie, but that this would not have any impact.
Louis was restless from the start, sleeping little, feeding often and wriggling, squirming and crying while he fed. He was also sick after most feeds – to the extent that Lucie took to covering them both with a bath towel to save changing and washing clothes constantly.
Lucie saw both her GP and health visitor with Louis over a period of several months. He was described as, “a typical reflux baby,” and prescribed Gaviscon. Lucie was told he would probably grow out of it. Because he was gaining weight the NHS health professionals didn’t seem concerned.
But knowing something wasn’t right, Lucie turned to the internet. She followed Charlotte’s blog, Analytical Armadillo, and found some information which led her to believe Louis had an underlying problem that might be causing the reflux.
Lucie said: “After trying an osteopath, raising the mattress and all the usual tips given for reflux, I turned in desperation to the internet and found an article by Milk Matters. I contacted Charlotte on a Wednesday and she came over two days later. Even though it was a bank holiday, Charlotte booked us in for a further appointment with Milk’s independent lactation consultant and tongue tie expert, Anne Dobson, on the Monday.
“Anne and Charlotte spent nearly two hours taking a really detailed medical history, not just about Louis, but about me too. I was given advice about what his behaviour was telling them, how best to comfort him and offered a frenotomy (release of tongue tie).
“The procedure took only a few minutes and Louis fed straight after without any distress.
“The effect was amazing. He slept twelve hours that night and is now sleeping well during the day. We have no hysterical screaming fits at all. I can’t believe how we managed for so long.”
A mum and dad’s story
Baby’s name: Louis
Mum’s name: Kate
Dad’s name: Solo
Baby’s age when treated: 5 days
Kate and Solo Chandan, from Rounday inLeeds, turned to Milk Matters after their first child, Louis, lost 13% of his birth weight in the first few days.
Kate says: “Charlotte gave me the courage and confidence to listen to and believe in my maternal instincts. Six months on I can honestly say I love breastfeeding – if you’d told me that was possible four months ago I wouldn’t have believed you.
“We have also turned to Charlotte for support on settling Louis, his sleep and other feeding queries and she has always been a source of knowledge and information.”
After it became apparent Louis was losing weight Kate and Solo had been advised to supplement Louis’ breastfeeds with formula, but didn’t want to go down that route. Charlotte went to visit them and assessed Louis as well as observing a feed. She showed us the signs that Louis had a disorganised suck and indicators that the long birth had caused some discomfort too.
Charlotte showed us positions that could help with the specific problems Louis was having, and reduce the pain I was experiencing when feeding; she explained more about breastmilk production and how to protect my supply until Louis was feeding well (otherwise it can drop rapidly). Charlotte showed us how we could tell Louis was actually drinking milk, rather than just looking at if he appeared to be latched ok, and also covered how to give him extra breast milk as required without using a bottle.
She also explained that Louis’ symptoms might naturally heal as he grew and recovered from the birth and encouraged us to keep in touch.
Things improved after the first visit, with Louis feeding much better and starting to gain weight, but began to stagnate after around three weeks.
At her second visit Charlotte confirmed that Louis showed signs of having a tongue tie which could be the problem with his feeding. She arranged to have the tie snipped and this made an immediate difference to him.
“We’ve never looked back since Louis’ tongue tie was snipped. While that made a difference to his feeding, Charlotte also helped us with coping strategies to ensure he was getting enough milk and was always on hand to offer advice and support over the phone, something we needed frequently over the first few months,” says Kate.
But Milk doesn’t only support mums on their parenting journey, they also try to show dads a way to be involved, even if baby is breastfed. Louis’ dad, Solo, also benefitted from Milk’s involvement.
“From the moment of Charlotte’s arrival in our home I felt relief,” says Solo.
“We felt so let down by the NHS, from midwives to health visitor thatCharlotte’s straight-talking manner and wealth of information gave me confidence that we could achieve what we wanted for our son.
“Charlotte immediately showed us how our son was communicating his discomfort and that it stemmed from the left side of his body, meaning holding or laying him in certain positions was extremely uncomfortable for him.
“We discussed options for helping relieve his discomfort, one of which was an osteopath who specialises in treating babies alongside Milk Matters. We saw them the next day and noted immediate improvement in some of the signs we had learnt to recognise the day before.
“Another couple of sessions resulted in relief for Louis and major changes in his sleep. The second and most important thing was his tongue tie, not even checked by the hospital, Louis was enduring colic of epic proportions. Charlotte wrote a report for a fellow lactation consultant who specialised in tongue ties, it outlined so many variables till it was clear Louis did in fact have one.
“The next steps were clear, the tongue needed to be cut professionally, which Charlotte organised. It was quick and before too many Mummy tears were shed, Louis was feeding.
“The results have been brilliant, the most significant being our son is still breast fed! If it wasn’t for the support and professionalism of Charlotte we would have both either lost the plot or given up. I’m so glad we didn’t!”
“Nobody would help us but Milk,”
Baby’s name: Holly
Mum’s name: Olivia
Baby’s age when treated: 8 weeks
Olivia Brabbs (36) from Leeds contacted Milk Matters when her first baby, Holly, wasn’t gaining any weight and she had severe pain with every feed.
It turned out Holly had a posterior tongue tie (right at the back of the mouth) and the roof of her mouth was slightly bubbled in shape, but it was a long battle to get the problems treated, which ended with rejection by an NHS’s tongue tie clinic and Milk arranging for the tie to be snipped.
Olivia takes up the story, “I came across Milk Matters after a frantic web search, as since Holly’s birth I had been experiencing extreme nipple pain and feeding difficulties, with very slow or no weight gain. I knew in my heart something wasn’t right but had been repeatedly fobbed off by health professionals who told me, “I’ve seen worse,” and, “It’s always difficult in the early days.” This was based on hurried assessments where a quick look at latch was undertaken but nothing else.
“Charlotte undertook a thorough assessment at our home including a really good look at Holly’s mouth. This flagged up a potential posterior tongue tie with bubble palette, which Charlotte confirmed fitted with the presentation of my nipple trauma, Holly’s poor weight gain and other indications.
“I was in a complete state by this stage with every feed causing me to cry in agony due to the severity of nipple damage, and Charlotte quickly gave support with positioning and techniques suitable for our situation.”
Olivia continues: “That’s when our great battle commenced, as we were repeatedly told that there was no tongue tie or palate difference – there was a long list of professionals including our GP, health visitors, hospital based lactation consultants, midwives and even the tongue tie clinic at Oldham who turned us away.
“In the background during our attempts to get the tongue tie recognised, Holly’s weight continued to plateau and despite my best efforts at pumping with a double hospital grade pump, we were forced to introduce formula top ups. I found this very traumatic as I had been so determined to breast feed; however I had also developed bad infections in both nipples alongside thrush which added to the pain.
Support and advocate
“Charlotte acted as my support and advocate during this really difficult time, including providing advice and access to equipment and important contacts. She kept fighting our corner and after speaking to experts around the country managed to locate Ann Dobson who was visiting Leeds. We managed to book an assessment, the tongue tie was confirmed and we decided to opt for the procedure to snip it there and then.”
Following the consultation done for Olivia and Holly, Charlotte asked Ann to be Milk’s specialist lactation and oral advisor. Ann undertakes all of the tongue tie procedures on Milk’s behalf.
Olivia noticed an immediate difference in feeding once the tongue tie had been snipped and although there was still nipple pain during feeds, it improved all the time as they healed.
Olivia says, “The best thing was that after two weeks we were able to stop topping Holly up with formula as it was evident Holly was feeding effectively and was satisfied after each feed”
“I dread to think where we would be now if we hadn’t found Milk Matters. I was so determined to breastfeed but came close to giving up on several occasions due to the pain. It was so frustrating that no other health professionals except Milk Matters were prepared to look at the cause of our feeding problems.”
A wider affect
But the problems with Holly didn’t just affect Olivia. Holly’s dad, Jonny, was also impacted, saying he felt helpless and unable to do anything to relieve either Olivia’s pain or Holly’s discomfort. He was also angered by the dismissive attitude of the long line of health professionals the family saw before finally finding Milk and having the cause identified and treated.
I went from bottle feeding back to breast feeding with Milk Matters
Baby’s name: Ruby
Mum’s name: Lauren
Baby’s age when treated: From 5 weeks
Lauren (29) is from Sheffield and Ruby is her only child. She contacted Milk Matters when Ruby was just five weeks old after a succession of health professionals had fobbed her off. One doctor even laughed at her and said she’d wasted his time.
Ruby was delivered early and was a forcep-assisted delivery. Lauren desperately wanted to breastfeed but was in agony whenever she tried. Ruby lost 12 per cent of her birth weight in the three days and was jaundiced, so was admitted back into hospital. Ruby was treated with UV light, which makes baby sleeping and is notorious for giving feeding problems.
The midwives helped devise a feeding plan with Lauren expressing so Ruby could be fed, but she struggled to express the amount of milk needed in addition to the feeds, so formula was suggested.
Breast-feeding supporters tried to help Lauren and Ruby, as feeding was still excruciatingly painful. They confirmed her latch was fine, but Ruby seemed to feed for very long periods of time.
Milk Matters was suggested to Lauren by a friend on an internet forum. Lauren drove from Sheffield to see Charlotte in West Yorkshire. Lauren was shocked when, along with a few other minor problems, Charlotte highlighted how she thought Ruby had a tongue tie.
“I felt so let down, it was like a slap in the face,” said Lauren. “Ruby had been assessed by three different paediatricians at the hospital. They had seemed so thorough, spending a lot of time checking her mouth among other things.
“I’d even had a specific conversation about breastfeeding with one and had explained my problems. I just couldn’t believe that three specialist doctors missed what Charlotte spotted so quickly.”
Milk always tries to work with NHS health professionals, so Charlotte encouraged Lauren to discuss the options with her health visitor, and was directed to her GP.
At the appointment with her GP Lauren said she thought Ruby had a tongue tie and explained the pain with feeding. The GP laughed and said that tongue tie didn’t exist, but that if it did, it doesn’t have any effect on breastfeeding. To confirm his point he called a colleague into the consulting room. This new doctor put his finger on Ruby’s lip and, when she touched his finger with her tongue, said this meant she wasn’t tongue-tied. The GP said that Ruby was doing fine on formula so Lauren should stick with that. He told Lauren she had been wasting his time and sent her packing.
Having been fobbed off by her GP, Lauren got back in touch with Milk. They arranged for a specialist lactation consultant to come to her house the next day. The consultant snipped Ruby’s tongue tie and she went straight to the breast for a feed which was not at all painful for Lauren. But after so long without being able to breastfeed, Lauren had very little milk.
Lauren says: “All I ever wanted to do was breastfeed my baby. Now the pain was sorted it was all I was focused on. I can honestly say that I would never have managed to successfully breastfeed Ruby without the support I received from Milk.
“Milk recommended a hospital-grade pump and taking Donperidone, which helps increase milk supply. I bought the drug over the counter and used the pump every two hours for five weeks until my milk supply was sufficient to fully breastfeed Ruby, topping her up with formula in the meantime.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve done, getting up through the night with Ruby and then setting an alarm to use the pump as well. But I was totally determined that I would be able to exclusively breastfeed my baby and, with the support of my partner, Ruby had her last formula feed on 28 May.
“Five months later and Ruby is just starting to take some solids. Sorting the tongue tie made a world of difference to my ability to breastfeed her, but the feeding plan and support I got from Milk Matters afterwards are what kept me going.
“I’ve told the breastfeeding supporters who tried to help me about tongue tie and one has contacted Milk to learn more. That supporter has also raised the issue of tongue ties with the PCT and persuaded them to take on a doctor that will divide tongue ties.
“Although it’s too late for Ruby and me, I’m pleased that my experience – and the expertise of Milk – mean other mums won’t have to struggle in the future.”
Lauren is currently pursuing a formal complaint against the GP in question.