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After many years working as a nurse and latterly as a Health Visitor I left the NHS in 2009 and set up my own private lactation practice.

 

As well as offering help and support with breastfeeding, I can also carry out tongue-tie release for babies up to the age of 6-9 months to improve feeding and have carried out around 3000 procedures.  I can usually offer appointments within a couple of days if families can travel which means issues can be treated promptly. This is important as the longer a breastfeeding issue is left the more difficult it can be to continue breastfeeding.

Problems associated with tongue tie include sore/damaged nipples, the baby slipping off the breast, clicking at the breast, poor weight gain. low milk supply, baby coughing and choking at the breast, difficulty latching to the breast, refusal to breast feed, blocked ducts and mastitis, thrush symptoms, reflux and colic, very short and frequent feeds or  lengthy, constant feeding.  For bottle fed babies leaking milk from the sides of the mouth is common, along with clicking, reflux and colic, gulping the milk down or being very slow to feed.

Tongue-tie division is not a new procedure and was fairly routine until the 1950s. By then most women were bottle feeding and this masked the impact of tongue-tie so the condition was ignored and went untreated. However, with more women choosing to breastfeed over the last 20 years or so recognition of the problems caused by tongue-tie has increased. In 2005 NICE published guidance recommending the treating of babies with tongue-tie who are experiencing breastfeeding difficulties.  However, NHS provision for this treatment remains patchy and the criteria used to decide who is treated and who is not is all too often inconsistent.  NHS treatment can also involve a wait of up to several weeks making it difficult for breastfeeding to be maintained.

The procedure is safe and not usually painful for the baby so can be done without anaesthetic in the home or clinic setting and  the baby can be fed straight afterwards. The baby is simply wrapped in a towel and their head is held still to prevent them wriggling around and sterile, blunt tipped, curved scissors are used to snip through the piece of skin under the tongue causing the tongue-tie.

Tongue-tie is common and is believed to affect about one in ten babies. It seems to run in families and is due to the in complete separation of the tongue from the lower jaw during development in the womb. Where breastfeeding difficulties persist despite help with positioning and attachment it should always be excluded. Very few doctors, midwives and health visitors are trained in tongue-tie assessment so it is important to ensure that the person you consult about this condition has had proper training in this field as many tongue-ties are missed.

 

Whilst information, help and support with breastfeeding is available through midwives and health visitors, knowledge and skills levels amongst NHS staff can be very variable. There are also lots of pressures on midwives and health visitors which mean they don’t always have sufficient time to spend with mothers observing and helping them with breastfeeding.

As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and as an ABM Breastfeeding Counsellor I have 14 years experience in supporting breastfeeding mothers. I have completed extensive training in all aspects of infant feeding, including managing complex difficulties such as persistent nipple pain, recurrent mastitis, poor weight gain, low milk supply, oversupply, reflux and intolerances, premature babies, babies with special needs, re-lactation and babies with tongue-tie.  Lactation Consultants have to complete many hours of breastfeeding counselling before being eligible to sit the 6 hour lactation consultant exam. We are then required to complete at least 15 hours of study each year to keep up to date and have to re-sit the exam every 10 years to remain qualified.

I am based near Ely in Cambridgeshire close to the Suffolk/Norfolk borders and offer some home visits in West Suffolk (Newmarket/ Mildenhall/ Bury St Edmunds areas) but do mainly clinic consultations in Bury St Edmunds. Provided you can travel to the clinic at the Self Centre in Bury I am happy to see people from anywhere and regularly see families from Woodbridge, Felixstowe, Sudbury and Ipswich, Norfolk and Essex areas in my clinics at the Self Centre in Bury St Edmunds.

As well as offering private consultations I also offer workshops on Baby Led Weaning and free drop in breastfeeding groups in Ely and Bury St Edmunds and a Feeding Assessment Clinic for more complex issues in Milton near Cambridge.

For more information please see the website www.sarahoakleylactation.co.uk. Email sarah@nursingnurture.co.uk or phone 07729629190.



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