Tongue Tie & Breastfeeding

Make yourself a cuppa & grab a yummy biscuit. Lets get stuck in, read on….

Did anyone watch BBC news breakfast on Tuesday morning? The chances are, that if you’re reading this you probably did. Or you’ve landed here after scoring the internet for advice and help on tongue tie. Before my little bear was born, I’d heard the phrase ‘tongue tie’ being used in a jovial way for when you got your words all muddled up. Shortly after his slightly dramatic entrance into the world I had the displeasure of understanding it’s origin. Not a laughing matter I assure you. I won’t give you the medical low down, you can read that here: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tongue-tie/Pages/Introduction.aspx

I will tell you about my experience, and I hope in some way it can help anyone going through a similar situation.

You can see left, how restricted Bear's tongue movement is. & right- nickname bear, & a bear by nature!

You can see left, how restricted Bear’s tongue movement is. & right- nickname bear, & a bear by nature!

As you read on, it may be difficult to wrap your head around why I seemed so hell bent on pursuing breastfeeding, given everything I came up against? & In retrospect 2 years down the line, I often think ‘Wow, I was stubborn’. I feel so grateful that I had such an amazing support network around who backed me for persevering with breastfeeding, yet were really reassuring that if I wanted or needed to switch to formula this was perfectly ok too. I feel like I made the best decisions for Bear & me, at that particular time & that’s the most important thing. Would I handle it differently now? Maybe, maybe not. I’m satisfied I coped the best way I could back then. Ultimately I did what I intrinsically felt was right in that moment.

So I said bear made a slightly dramatic entrance into the world. The point is regardless of how he arrived, he did. He was healthy, here & that was the ultimate goal. After a ridiculous amount of hours in ‚Äòactive‚Äô labour on just gas & air, I had an epidural & eventually ended up needing an emergency C-section. It couldn‚Äôt have been further from my ‚Äòhypnotherapy-water-natural- birth please‚Äô but I‚Äôd always remained realistic, that these things no matter how well you prepare yourself, just don‚Äôt always go to ‚Äòplan‚Äô. As crazy as it sounds, I think it’s fair to say I always like to feel ‚Äòin control‚Äô & I may be stating the bloody obvious, that during the birth process this gets thrown out the window (along with all your heirs and graces)! But having total control taken away & being told ‚ÄòWe have to deliver your baby with medical intervention/ major surgery‚Äô I think sent me off on a crusade afterwards. I wanted to do everything within my power to be ‚Äònatural‚Äô & ‚Äòbreast is best‚Äô blah, blah, blah. When I was in a very sorry state with nipples so severely damaged that I‚Äôd rather have been in labour again, this was my driving force. Slightly crazy. No, downright bonkers really.

Baby bear: the first few weeks. As close to a breastfeeding picture i would allow to be taken!

Baby bear: the first few weeks (hours old, days old, weeks old). As close to a breastfeeding picture i would allow to be taken!

I knew from the very first feed in hospital something was wrong. I took full advantage of the nursing staff around & asked if he was latching on properly at every opportunity. They reassured me that his latch was great & it was just because my nipples needed to ahem, ‚Äòtoughen up‚Äô (What? Really?) & Explained that once milk production started it would be fine. Being a ‘first time mummy’ I just accepted this advice, I knew no different. & It‚Äôs hardly a hot topic whilst you‚Äôre pregnant, talking about what happens to your ‘udders’ in the early stages of feeding. I avidly followed a certain baby magazine & not once did I see any articles about breastfeeding hurting. You just presume that baby goes on & ‚Äòvoil√†‚Äô they feed. At least, that’s what I thought.

I had to stay in hospital for a couple of nights & I feel this was the worst but part of the whole delivery/ post birth for me: there you are, with your new bundle of joy, you‚Äôre recovering from major surgery, your husband/ partner is not allowed to stay, you‚Äôre all on your own. & Your baby just won‚Äôt stop screaming (Even though he‚Äôs become a permanent fixture to you breast for what feels like all night). You‚Äôre sharing a room with 3 other mother & babies and one rude, condescending mum turns to you and says ‚ÄòYou need to feed your baby‚Äô. Now, had I my wits about me I would have responded to her with my sharp tongue. But I felt like there was something seriously wrong with bubba’s feeding & her comment only served to increase my worry.

Baby bear starting to look skinny-worrying times

Baby bear starting to look skinny-worrying times

When I returned home, M commented on how much bear cried. Was it normal for a newborn to scream that much? Talk about feeling helpless. At 5 days old, my lovely photographer friend Lyanne visited to do a newborn shoot with us. She gets you to feed baby so they’re ‘milk drunk’ & snoozy, it makes for some great pictures (see below)! But little bear just didn’t want to cooperate with this. Ly observed Bear feeding & advised me to check with my midwife if he was tongue tied so I did, straight away. This was dismissed immediately.  Ly wasn’t convinced & neither was I, so I asked for second & even 3rd opinions. Dismissed every time, I resided myself to the fact that breastfeeding was just this bloody painful & required me to shed a tear every time a feed happened. I envied seeing women so easily feeding their child.

Little bear at 5 days old. www.lyannewylde.com

Little bear at 5 days old. www.lyannewylde.com

Mummy & baby bonding time, bliss! & a Photo shy but ever so proud daddy......

Mummy & baby bonding time, bliss! & a Photo shy but ever so proud daddy…… www.lyannewylde.com

At 3 weeks old, I will say I hit a brick wall. I just couldn‚Äôt carry on being in so much pain. I wanted to enjoy & savour every precious moment bonding with bear, not fearing the pain. With so much conflicting advice about mixed feeding I just didn‚Äôt know what to do. I visited a local drop in feeding clinic where a lovely lady confirmed Bear was in fact severely tongue tied (90%). How the bloody hells bells, did that keep getting missed?! A referral to Kings Collage Hospital London was made for a ‘tongue division’, but I was warned this would take at least 3 weeks. Panic ensued within me. By this point, Bear had lost weight & it was starting to get very worrying: my GP & midwife were really concerned. I could not wait 3 weeks. I wouldn‚Äôt. It was early December, what if we had snow & it was delayed even further? In sheer desperation, I searched high & low and found a lady who would come to you & perform the procedure. I researched her & asked my local feeding clinic: although legally they weren‚Äôt allowed to recommend anyone, they said this particular lady was well known & had a great reputation. My husband M & I affectionately referred to her as ‚Äòthe boobie lady‚Äô, her name was¬†Ann Dobson.¬†She deserves a medal. I’m not sure what we would have done without her. She had visited us within a day of calling her & performed the tongue dividing procedure immediately. Unfortunately Bear had to have this operation repeated a¬†few weeks later due to scar tissue formation.

Eventually he started feeding better, I was able to express milk as well as breastfeed to top him up (& allow my nipples to heal) & he would have a little formula to help him along also. I‚Äôd suffered 3 bouts of mastitis, and severe nipple trauma & started to make a slow recovery from this. At 5 months I had taken all i could, & it was a easy transition to formula (I’m still not sure my nipples have forgiven me for the sheer bloody torture!)

We were extremely fortunate to have financial assistance from family to be able to afford a private practitioner, for which we are ever so grateful. This isn’t going to be an option for everyone, but what mother with a newborn will be prepared to wait 3 weeks when their child is already suffering? It’s incredibly frustrating that this can be so easily diagnosed & treated; yet there just doesn’t seem to be enough sufficiently trained ‘medical’ staff for this. I stumbled across a petition today calling for a mandatory check for tongue tie as routine postnatal examination http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57164. We can only hope, right?

I can hardly believe that in just over 2 years this is the first time I‚Äôve heard tongue tie being discussed in the media. I‚Äôm so pleased it’s being explained on a platform such as the BBC & it can only serve to help raise the profile of this condition.

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33 Comments

  1. Shev
    25/04/2018 / 12:35 AM

    Hi, I’ve just come across your blog and my baby has just had a TT cut by Ann, but I’m concerned it has reformed less than a week later. Did Ann correct it for you after the scar tissue had formed or was it done by an NHS practicioner? How did you know that it had reformed? Any advice gratefully recieved!

    Thanks
    Siobhan

  2. 05/06/2014 / 1:39 PM

    Such a useful post! I’m so sorry you had such a rough time, but props to you for persevering! I’m so angry on your behalf that the tongue-tie was missed so many times, and that it takes 3 weeks (3 WEEKS!) for a small baby to be seen, who clearly needs to have the procedure done sooner in order to feed, ridiculous! xx

  3. 03/06/2014 / 9:44 AM

    When I had my first son, almost 15yrs ago now! The midwive mentioned “tongue tie” and the prospect of him having it, which quite frankly terrified me, I’m sure you can relate to that given this amazing post! Thankfully he didn’t and she was wrong, but your “Booby lady” NEEDS a medal for getting bear sorted so fast and WELL DONE you for being as stubborn as you are, sticking to your guns and more. And FYI, those newborn photos? MEGA FRIKKEN CUTENESS!! He is such a wee dote hun and thank you for sharing this with #MMWBH xx

  4. 02/06/2014 / 2:05 PM

    Wow what a fascinating and really helpful article! I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you and I am so glad everything got sorted. I had C Sections with both of mine and it is really hard as you are totally unable to move which is just horrible. A brill story and if I see anyone with this issue will recommend! Thanks so much for linking up to #AllAboutYou xxx

  5. 30/05/2014 / 11:14 PM

    I know quite a few people who’s babies are tongue tied and I myself donate breastmilk for mums that’s are in same place you were but don’t want to give formula. Glad you stuck to it and glad you had a great support network. I too have been stubborn and stuck to my guns that my daughter will feed because I was told she might not due to her having Down’s syndrome.

  6. MrsCoolBananas
    30/05/2014 / 10:07 PM

    That angers me so much, it’s shocking!! Bear lost so much weight, his hips/ pelvis & spine were sticking out- after my fears were expressed, midwives told me not to worry, milk supply was fine etc. It wasn’t until 3 weeks old we got anywhere. It still makes me feel so upset, that my poor boy was so hungry-almost like i failed him. (I know i didn’t: i tried to get help constantly, but still, it’s certainly not the nicest memory). It’s a issue that needs so much more discussion for new mums & midwives to be trained in more thoroughly. Thanks so much for you comment, & stopping by! xx

  7. 30/05/2014 / 9:44 PM

    I have two friends whose babies lost weight, they were having so many issues and the midwives just kept telling the to keep going. Both of these babies turned out to have tongue ties.
    Your photo’s are stunning hun x

  8. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 9:42 PM

    Thanks for the lovely message Jenny. It’s so nice to hear that someone else suffered the similar way with breast feeding (although at the time, it’s certain not nice!). You’re the first person i’ve come across who understands through experience, rather than ‘a friend of a friend’. I’m really behind on bog stuff (too many projects on!) hence the oldie, but i hoped this may help others & spread the word about tongue tie.xx

  9. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 9:32 PM

    *instinct late night typo fail! x

  10. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 9:31 PM

    Exactly-mothers instant is always right. The worst part is being patronised with the whole ‘Oh, is this your first? Then yes it will hurt’ BS. My mum breast fed 3 of us with no problems. It shouldn’t hurt. I think the NHS wait & treatment varies- ours apparently is one of the best in the country & the procedure would be done at kings collage hospital, but i know some pars of the country don’t offer the tongue division AT ALL. which is disgraceful. Thanks so much for your comment xx

  11. 28/05/2014 / 9:27 PM

    Just another proof that sometimes mum knows best and feels that something is wrong and professionals are not always so good, i had my breastfeeding session where i asked about tongue tie, the first lady said its not a problem, second lady reassured me that if problem occurred it will be sorted within few day, i hope we wont have to deal with it, but its seems to be very common shame it takes them a long time to sort it via NHS

  12. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 8:51 PM

    Merlinda: it doesn’t matter how long you have been here, you must ask away: & speak up to be heard (please?) Thank you so much for your lovely comment xx

  13. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 8:46 PM

    I had a chuckle to your tourette’s comment!! So bear had his snipped twice-beacuse of scar formation, but even now he still has a very short tongue & his speech is on the slow side: i wonder if its still tongue tie? Mixed message are not good, i can imagine your frustration. Thanks for stopping by! xx

  14. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 8:44 PM

    Hehe, thats me….Very stubborn!! It should be compulsory to check at birth- i signed up to a petition for this exact guideline. But you never think whilst your pregnant that feeding you baby would ever be an issue: it’s something thats never discussed. You can feel isolated enough as it is, with a newborn, throwing in a problem that there is hardly any info or support on is really daunting. Thanks for your lovely comment Kelly Xx

  15. 28/05/2014 / 8:43 PM

    WOW Katrina you ready did go through it. I was very convinced that Missy Moo was tongue tied. I had 3 bouts of mastitis and ended up twice in the hospital once in Ireland on vacation because I was so ill from it and in so much pain I almost passed out everytime I fed her. But they all said she wasn’t. It got to bad I finally had to combination feed then eventually give in as the nipple trauma was so bad. I can relate so much. And I still often wonder if she has problems with her tongue. Weird how a mother’s gut feeling is so strong. Glad you got help finally and sorted it all. I wish I had got more help with it all because I fed Buba for a year and loved it. Glad the media is getting more info and spreading the word too now. Great post. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. Oldies are still GOODIES!!! #sharewithme

  16. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 8:33 PM

    *hi five Back*. A medal would be lovely, thank you!!The pain i went through makes me shudder now, but hey ho- at the time i accepted it as part of the whole baby thing. I know now for the future to not put up with it! Thanks for you comment Franki 🙂 you always make me smile! xx

  17. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 8:31 PM

    Charlotte- that was a lovely comment, don’t be daft!! Thank you xx

  18. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 8:28 PM

    Ah Ali, thanks for such a sweet comment. Bear as a bubba was a right cutie (even if i may say so!) but he turned into a monster…still a cute monster! Thats me, a stubborn old mule xx

  19. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 8:26 PM

    Thanks for your comment, I’m really pleased you enjoyed it. If in some way i can spread the word, that’ll make me happy! xx

  20. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 8:25 PM

    Oh, that sounds so tough. Bear went on to develop terrible ‘refulx’ at a few months old , but nothing worked for him, until they gave us apamil peptic 2- which is for cows milk protein problems & it worked wonders! Thanks for your comment xx

  21. MrsCoolBananas
    28/05/2014 / 8:20 PM

    So pleased you liked this post. Ewwww!! Poor Arthur :(.No one seems to talk about feeding struggles, & they really should highlight these issues. X

  22. 28/05/2014 / 7:54 PM

    A very very honest post. I read a lot about private practice giving your more and spending more time with your kids or listens more to your worries. Makes me wonder why the free medical services is not as keen as the private ones? There are so many things that I want to ask or say but I will just probably keep my mouth shut now and observe some more. After all I am new in here so I really dont know the system yet. But I am so happy that you found out the reason of your discomfort. I also breastfed my son. Still digesting the information that I read here. Thanks for sharing this experience as I have learned so much =) #MadMidWeekBlogHop

  23. 28/05/2014 / 4:33 PM

    I had a similar experience. My daughter is severely tongue tied as well and the pediatrician who visited the day she was born noted it, but told me that they rarely do anything about it anymore. Nobody told me it might make it hard to breastfeed. I had the most wonderful, peaceful, natural childbirth, and then started sounding like I had Tourette’s because breastfeeding was so painful! Her tongue must have stretched a little because she finally latched properly. When she was two, her new dentist mentioned the tongue tie, and said that he could fix it, but that I may not want to bother since her teeth are perfect, and she has no speech issues. Mixed messages much?? Grrrr.
    I got here via the Mad Mid Week Blog Hop

  24. 28/05/2014 / 3:42 PM

    Wow! You stubbon mare! 😉 but seriously, that’s really bad that it was missed so many times, especially as it was so bad! I think checking for it and learning how to do the procedure should be part of the midwifes training. Especially as it’s preformed so quickly, would stop a lot of this “three week wait rubbish” I know of two others apart from you who had to go private it’s disgusting!

    P.s awwwwwwwww super cute photos lady! X

  25. 28/05/2014 / 2:18 PM

    High five lady! You deserve a medal for fighting your way through and getting bear what he needed. I had a friend who had a little boy with tongue tie but they didn’t provide the procedure on NHS in the area she lived in. It’s ridiculous. Definitely needs more awareness and medical help available.
    I had issues breast feeding but not due to tongue tie but just positioning for me was tough. My amazing midwife sent a breast feeding expert round who sat with me for hours until I’d found a feeding position I liked and didn’t make me feel like someone was pulling razor blades through my nipples. It drives me crazy when I hear other mums saying “oh yeah, it does hurt sometimes!” NOOOOO! It should never hurt and if it does it means something isn’t quite right. Xx

  26. 28/05/2014 / 1:56 PM

    Sorry that’s a really badly written comment, I’m typing on my phone with a toddler on my lap 😉

  27. 28/05/2014 / 1:55 PM

    First of all can I just say well b****y you for continuing to feed through a that!! I am completely pro feeding but I think I’d have had to call it a day after everything you went though.
    I had heard a tongue tie and know what signs to look for but it’s only because my friend had similar problems to you when trying to breastfeed her boy. I don’t think I’d even heard of it before that x

  28. 28/05/2014 / 10:15 AM

    Oh bless, I loved seeing baby bear. What a little cutie. I have a few friends who had babies with tongue tie and couldn’t fed at all because it was so painful and one friend’s baby’s tongue wasn’t noticed for weeks after he was born 🙁 I love how stubborn you were about feeding! You’re like me! Haha, thanks for sharing. Xx

  29. 28/05/2014 / 9:36 AM

    Great post! I still feel there are so many unspoken issues relating to childbirth, simple things that if shared can make such a difference to a mothers experience. Thank you for sharing your story, I loved hearing about your Bear! #AllAboutYou

  30. 28/05/2014 / 9:30 AM

    I hear ya. My little man had a lip tie and a tongue tie added to a undiagnosed milk protein allergy – it was a very stressful start to life. Well done you for highlighting the issue. xx

  31. 28/05/2014 / 9:18 AM

    Such a good idea for a post. I’m not sure if it was a tongue tie that Arthur had when he was born but he did have a little like extra thing attached to his tongue underneath. One day it was just gone, I guess he snapped it himself (eww). No one here helped me with it at all, of discussed it even though we had troubles with feeding at the start too!!

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