I was lucky and was able to feed Wriggler from the beginning. I did make use of my midwife at the five-day check, and also a local breastfeeding clinic when I was worried a few days later and both support systems were amazing in my experience.
With Fidget, he was a champ from day one and it was a lot easier the second time around as my milk just seemed to be there, rather than having to do that painful dinner plate thing of ‘coming in’. But, I knew from the very start that there was something different about the way he was feeding and how things were going.
To start with, he was noisy and messy…like, I would have to change my top and bra after every feed, milk would be everywhere, every time! Then I noticed that he could go 10 days without a poo…now this isn’t unusual, but the five days before were so stinky that I was desperate for him to poo and not fart! I asked the doctor at his six week check if this was all normal, maybe he had tongue tie but she was sure he was fine – besides the common understanding was that babies with a tie don’t gain weight the way Fidget was – so he was clearly feeding.
Thankfully the health visitor came at eight weeks and watched me feed and I commented on Fidget’s ‘clicking’ – she took one look at him and said ‘tongue tie’. We saw a consultant the following week and he actually had a 95% lateral tie – how he had managed to feed and gain weight was impressive – but the consultant said that it was not uncommon, especially if the milk is plentiful…we got it cut at 12 weeks old and feeding improved within days. So did his stinky bum!
This experience was such a learning curve and thankfully it meant that the first time Squish fed I recognised that something wasn’t right again. I mentioned it at her one day check and the midwife agreed that something wasn’t right. Off I went to the breastfeeding clinic and thankfully the consultant was able to see right away that she had a very tight tie – 95% posterior tie – which meant that she would really struggle to suck. Again, we got it cut at 12 days old and again feeding improved straight away.
I was fortunate that both times I wasn’t in pain, nor were my nipples damaged and that both babies were gaining weight. But these were then factors that mislead the healthcare professionals when they were looking at the challenges I was experiencing with feeding. I was being told that babies with tongue tie don’t gain weight – I beg to differ. I was told I should be in pain – again, I beg to differ. The point of me saying this? If you know that something isn’t right with how your baby is feeding – trust your instincts and insist on someone checking the tongue.
So what to do if you suspect your baby has a tie?
- Check out the NHS guide to see if any of your concerns are flagged on their list, or if your little one’s tongue has any similarities to the photos
- See a breastfeeding or lactation consultant. If your baby is under 28 days old this can usually be done through a local breastfeeding clinic and they can refer you into the NHS for a consultantion if needed. If over 28 days old your health visitor will need to refer you to a consultant. Or you can chose to go privately, which is expensive but handy when the wait times can vary between a few days and weeks – which is hard if you are trying to feed and are in pain
- A consultant will advise on the type and severity of the tie, the impact on feeding and long-term bite and whether you should have it cut or not
- Ask about lip-tie. Figdet had it, but they don’t usually cut it until they are older and it is causing dental problems. Fidget snapped his when he fell over when he was about one and that was that – the gap that he had between his front top teeth closed up finally as there was nothing in the way anymore
- If you do have the tie cut it can seem to be a huge thing and that your baby is being hurt, but it is only for a second, there are minimal nerves in the tongue area, there is barely any blood afterwards. In my experience the nurse held my babies and the consultant did the cut – we were all sorted and feeding again within 30 seconds and giving reassuring cuddles
- After having the tie cut make sure that you do little exercises like getting baby to copy sticking their tongue out – it helps them learn how they can now move this muscle. And don’t be surprised if baby is tired for a few days afterwards – learning this new feeding skill is hard work!
Feeding is hard work, and harder if there are challenges to overcome, like tongue tie. So, don’t be afraid to get help, and hopefully your feeding journey will become much better.
Cheers to happy fed little babies!