When baby Olivia Kirkpatrick struggled to breast-feed, her mum Samantha had a crisis of confidence – but the fault lay with a medical condition called lip-tie.
Samantha is starting a campaign to raise awareness of lip-tie, which can often go undetected.
Samantha, who is on maternity leave from her job at Oathall Community College in Haywards Heath, says: “It’s a condition that some babies are born with and can, potentially, affect their ability to feed and, later on, cause issues with speech and teeth.
“Their lip is ‘tied’ to their gums by an extra bit of skin. The degree of tie can vary. Sometimes it can cause no problem at all or it can be more serious.
“I have discovered, completely by accident, my daughter Olivia has it.
“Due to Olivia’s lip-tie I was forced to combination feed after three days as she wasn’t gaining enough weight. As a new mother I was really upset about it and felt like a failure. Little did I know that it wasn’t me at all.
“Since finding out myself and posting on forums about it, other mums have discovered their little ones have it too, and indeed now know why there were initial issues with feeding.
“I want all babies to be checked for this routinely at birth so that if they have it, potential feeding issues can be explained and guidance given.”
The lip-tie problem can sometimes sort itself out as feeding is established and the lip and gums are used. However, Olivia will require surgery.
Samantha has started a House of Commons petition to give the condition a higher profile and to press for checks by midwives and health visitors to pin-point the condition as early as possible.
There is also a Facebook page on the condition at: www.facebook.com/home.php#!/LipTieSupportGroup
The petition is atepetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44390