Before we found you:
Birth Centre, with Nurse, trying to improve latch
Two IBCLC s
Paediatrician to assess development (and said its satisfactory)
Multiple other people including Dr Cotlow, two dentists, an IBCLC to assess oral restriction and treatment.
Frenectomy at 3.5 months and 9 CST sessions with one of india's very famous IBCLC whose work is often referred to as magic and miracle.
After all this, my baby was left with shallow latch, many body restrictions, I had nipple tenderness and everyone including my midwife was asking me to let go and start formula. My struggle had started when my little one was put on my breast immediately after birth. I had known she was not latching well, but little did I anticipate this long and difficult road lying in front of me. Baby Neha had a toungue tie and mild torticollis. Post frenectomy and different oromotor exercises, nursing was still a frustrating experience. I was under therapy of a psychologist, unable to come to terms with the fact that after all this struggle I might have to start weaning my baby before she turns one.
And that’s when I met Ellen.
I was half a globe apart and it took a while to get her to respond to my messages, but once we started off with online consultations, we saw steady improvement in how the baby nursed. Ellen was very clear in her terms and conditions for consultations, and she always set the expectations in a realistic way. In her first session I found what I needed most at that time – someone who would listen to me compassionately, trust me, and comfort me. She had that energy of a mother goddess around her. She was humble enough to ask me after the first session if I would come back for a second. Oh my!
Once I overcame my frustration, our work progressed smoothly. We met on skype, and she had asked for specific videos of nursing before our first meeting. I put them in a gdrive folder along with old videos of neha nursing. In the first meeting I was pleasantly surprised to know that ellen had not only seen the videos that I created for her but also the older videos of neha. She would question me about how exactly the baby was trying to latch, and meditatively listen, and give me possible explanations about why the baby was doing what she was doing, and how we can very gently break her patterns in order to encourage her to do something more optimal. Her questions were so shrewd that I was challenged to be an expert in explaining how I breastfed. (I don’t know if anyone was ever asked “is it the upper part of the nipple that hurts or the lower part?” That’s how much she goes into details!) And she was so absorbed in the sessions there were times she looked like she was going through exactly the difficulties my baby was going through. After each session she would send me elaborate reports on the developments. These reports helped me to go back and refresh on what was discussed in sessions and what I should be doing. And these reports were written in a professional and matter of fact way. No exaggerations, no undue claims, nothing. Whenever I answered her questions about improvements in the negative, she gracefully took it and explored alternative ways of working. I found it easy to express my concerns and disagreements. Ellen was always accessible on whatsapp and email and always answered my queries. Neha was almost 8 months by now and was very agile and was not very patient with attempts to manipulate her nursing methods and this placed a restriction on our options but we kept working within this limitation.
And slowly we started seeing the improvement that we wanted to see. My baby started spreading her tongue out to cup the nipple instead of biting, she started taking in more aeriola and deepened her latch, milk started flowing more easily and she learned to manage suck and swallow more optimally, she started to sleep on my breast, she learned to relax on my breast, the nursing time improved from 3 minutes to nearly 10minutes, my tenderness on nipple vanished, nursing stopped being a struggle. When I shared these milestones with her I could see Ellen was genuinely happy – not that “I know it all” smile. She shared the enthusiasm like an equal partner, I always remember with fondness how she reacted when I told her I have no more tenderness on nipple. She was so thrilled! No one has shared my joy like that.
Even in the middle of the corona pandemic, Ellen was willing to continue sessions. She had fallen ill with Covid like symptoms but she was so kind to continue seeing me, bless her!
We did six sessions together and me and my baby has a functional latch now. There are some more issues that needs to be addressed such as some tensions in my baby s body and how she still continues to compensate for oral restriction. In the final session Ellen pointed out couple of these patterns and suggested working in that direction. She was so warm she didn’t charge me for the last session.
Breastfeeding is the foundation stone in the relationship between mom and baby. When that goes wrong, everything that follows suffers a degradation in quality, and that can touch even family relationships. I am thankful for the existence of people like Ellen, who not only responds to the emotional strain that moms like me go through when all roads seem closed and all help inadequate, but also equip herself with the expertise and knowledge that can heal and mend our lives. I am sure she is an inspiration and guide to other IBCLCs, to go even further in their professional pursuit. I am thankful for her time, kindness and love.
I strongly recommend Ellen to moms and babies who could not achieve an optimal latch even after frenectomy.
Sandhya and Neha,