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Exploring Life & Business with Sherri Gunn of Utah Breastfeeding and Tongue Tie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sherri Gunn.

Hi Sherri, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
When I had my first baby I like most women assumed my baby and my body would know what to do when it came to breastfeeding. I wasn’t prepared for the frustration and discomfort and I reached out for help only to have a difficult experience with a lactation consultant. I told myself that I never wanted a mom to feel like I had and that started my interest in becoming an IBCLC. I had been an RN for 10 years and worked in the NICU at Utah Valley when an opening in their lactation department became available. I studied and took the exam to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I worked at UVRMC for 3 years, even commuting from Farmington once we moved because I loved it there. When my 4th baby was on his way I decided to open my own private practice Success with Breastfeeding. I contacted my local hospital and they contracted with my business when their lactation consultant quit. I met one of their nurses Anne Tullis who was interested in becoming an IBCLC. We worked together to provide care to the mothers on the floor who had just had a baby and also opened a free lactation clinic. Anne got her IBCLC and we began furthering our education in lactation and tongue tie specific areas. After working there for 6 years we decided to focus on private practice and community care.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Unfortunately, the tongue tie world is a controversial one. I was fired from the hospital while they retained my colleagues because I had told a mom her baby could be tongue tied and needed to be evaluated. A pediatrician there was very upset and went to the management and had me fired. He told me to my face that tongue ties don’t exist. As an IBCLC we assess and suggest. There is nothing we can do for a tongue tie, but we are skilled in observing a baby feeding and watching for signs of oral dysfunction. After I was fired we decided to try to educate the medical community and brought in a world renowned pediatrician, Dr. Agarwal for a tongue tie education evening. I personally delivered over 300 invitations to doctors from Roy to Provo. We had one doctor show up. It is hard when you are trying so hard to help families who are struggling and multiple times a week I have a parent come back and tell me their pediatrician told them the baby wasn’t tongue tied.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
The owners, myself, Anne Tullis and Chuck Odion are passionate about helping families. When working with babies, feeding can be so stressful. So we educate on how a mom’s body works to make milk, how a baby’s body works to get milk and how they work together. When we see some oral dysfunction we identify issues that can have a lifelong impact and work to correct them. All of the lactation consultants in our company are moms themselves, registered nurses and passionate about helping others. At the end of the day, however, the consult has gone we are there to celebrate the little victories and cry and support when things don’t go as planned.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
The tongue tie world is an evolving one. We are constantly learning new evaluations and techniques every year. I hope with social media and educating parents that pediatricians and other medical providers will see the need for early intervention and support for tongue tie.

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