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The importance of checking for tongue tie…

Parenting / May 29, 2018 /

Bells was a very straight forwards baby, other than a serious case of resting b*tch face, life with her as a newborn was pretty plain sailing. It didn’t even cross my mind that things would be any different with the birth of Millie.

As soon as she was born, she was automatically a very “sicky” baby. She seemed constantly uncomfortable with her legs drawn up and her face screwed tight. The nurses put it down to her having mucus still on her chest as she was a c-section baby and so we were sent on our merry way.

Within a couple of days, I knew that something wasn’t right. Millie couldn’t be put down to lay on her back (she’d go nuts), she’d be sick as soon as she fed or as soon as you lay her down if you held her upright for a decent amount of time afterwards. Before long, the only way that she would sleep was on me, sat upright and was on a cycle of feeding every 30 minutes followed by another 30 minutes of trying to get her wind up. I started expressing and bottle feeding to check she wasn’t over-feeding or latching badly. Both of us were breaking.

After 3 weeks of trying to battle on through, I posted an Instagram story and was inundated with messages from people with reflux babies (you guys are awesome!). The following day, I managed to get her in to see our doctor and after a quick chat and having given her a once over, he prescribed Ranitidine. He told me breastfed babies never over-feed, they’ll only ever take what they need. I was convinced this would be the end of the story and went back to breastfeeding as normal.

Fast forward another month and we were still experiencing some problems, nowhere near as bad as before but Millie was still feeding for 5 hours straight before bed, waking for feeds every hour and was generally unsettled. I’d been to the health visitor and mentioned some of the issues that we were having but was quickly dismissed after being told I was doing a great job and just had to stick with it.

I mentioned tongue tie to Dickie but he told me that he’d seen her poke her tongue out so it couldn’t be that. 5 days later, his friend suggested tongue tie and he came back to me asking whether it could be tongue tie. After much muttering under my breath, I googled the symptoms (good old Dr. Google)…

  • Difficulty latching on or falls off the breast easily
  • Gumming or chewing the nipple while nursing
  • Unable to hold a dummy or bottle
  • Gassy (they swallow more air because they cannot maintain suction properly)
  • Poor weight gain
  • Excessive drooling
  • Not able to fully drain the breast
  • Choking on milk or popping off to gasp for air while nursing
  • Falling asleep during feedings, then waking a short while later to feed again
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Extended nursing periods
  • Clicking noises while sucking

When I read this, my jaw hit the floor.  Millie ticked every single symptom other than the weight gain. The latching issue I’d put down to having boobs that keep my knees warm, Bells never took a dummy (until she was 15mths when it became her favourite accessory) and the choking? Well I put it down to a fast flow. I’d made excuses for everything.

I frantically emailed a few consultants from the www.tongue-tie.org.uk website. The very same day, a lovely lady called Luci got back to me, agreeing to see me a couple of days later. I spent those days worrying; worrying that it was tongue tie and she might need a division, worrying that it wasn’t and we still wouldn’t have any answers. I just worried.

Our appointment with Luci was great. She had two sets of criteria against which she scored Millie’s tongue, appearance and function (Dickie is a fan of a good checklist so got very excited by this approach). Luci told us that 9 out of 10 parents who thought their child has tongue tie often doesn’t and it’s only through going through an extensive examination (not just taking a quick look at how the tongue looks) that you can make the diagnosis. Having tested Millie, the results came back, she had tongue tie.

The following 15 minutes saw Luci talking through the division procedure in depth before we gave our permission. Dickie held Millie (convinced I’d break down in tears) whilst I prepared myself for her to feed immediately afterwards. Of course there were tears, but no worse than jabs and following a feed, the whole thing was a distant memory for her.

I made the mistake of expecting things to get immediately better. Luci had warned us that things could get worse before they got better and that was certainly the case as she wanted comfort feeding more often and had to re-learn what to do with her tongue. For a good few days I wished that we hadn’t had it done. Then by day 10, things clicked. Millie started sleeping through the night, my boobs were uncomfortable after feeds because her latch was now so strong (she was latching correctly, it was just stronger than before) and the continual fussing stopped.

If you saw the little monkey now, she’s so happy with her little tongue – she shows it off at any given opportunity. I’m so pleased that we decided to go ahead with the procedure and I’m so relieved that I trusted my gut. The moral of the story is that if you feel something isn’t right, don’t accept being fobbed off, take it further. Tongue tie is such a simple problem that is easily fixed and yet so often missed, so hopefully for those of you reading this, I might save one person from experiencing the same frustrations that we went through.

Has your baby experienced tongue tie? What was your experience? I’d love to hear from you.

M x