OBS Story - Dr Marie Tidball
Marie was born with a congenital disability which affects all four limbs - with foreshortened arms and legs and a digit on each hand. Marie had her baby by emergency caesarean at 37 weeks. She knew the health benefits of breastfeeding to her and for her baby, as well as its benefits to the recovery from the c-section. However, being able to breastfed successfully was vital for her and her baby because her disability made holding a bottle almost impossible.
Marie first came to OBS when Sophie was four weeks old. Marie was able to feed Sophie lying down but was unable to use other standard feeding positions because of her disability and pain in her core caused by the pain post c-section. This was restricting her to the home and limiting the activities she could do with her daughter. On this she said:
“You showed me how to do the upright ‘koala’ feeding position which was liberating! The more traditional positions were impossible to do due to my c-section and hand manipulation.”
Using this position, and not needing to use pillows, blankets and being in a specific type of chair to feed enabled Marie to feed her baby whenever and wherever she needed to. Marie said:
“This essential advice means I’ve been able to feed Sophie everywhere - from the City Council Chamber and the floor in the Labour Party Conference Hall (when Sophie was 6 weeks old) to travelling on an aeroplane!”
Since then Marie has had support form OBS with other feeding positions as Sophie grew and lots of tips along the way with management of mastitis, feeding a distractible baby and safe co-sleeping. The latter has been imperative as Marie’s length of arms means she cannot reach down into a standard cot to pick up her baby. OBS has also helped Marie access other resources, such as the sling library.
Marie benefited from the extra support that OBS was able to provide. Occupational Health provided Marie with a bath chair to help her after her c-section but were not able to advise on breastfeeding positions or aids. Community midwives were excellent in the early days in establishing lying down feeding. OBS were then able to support Marie as her baby grew and her c-section healed on different feeding positions that would work well and be sustainable for Marie's disability. OBS also gave Marie the confidence to feed Sophie out and about:
“You professionalised it for me, I knew it was the right thing to do for my child but you normalised it and gave me the confidence and skills to do it anywhere and everywhere on demand when Sophie needs it. I breastfed whilst chairing a meeting recently and felt proud that no-one even raised an eyebrow.”