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.

Thorough assessment

“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.”

Great battle

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 a consultant 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.”

Immediate difference

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.