It’s World Breastfeeding Week and so I thought I’d share part of my breastfeeding story and how out tongue-tie nightmare unfolded.
?My little Baby H was born with a tongue-tie. It wasn’t mentioned until she was 3 days old, on our second morning at home. The midwives in the hospital were all wonderful, however, I do not for the life of me know why tongue-tie is not a standard newborn check.
We were released from hospital on the evening of H’s first day. Every midwife told me Baby H was breastfeeding brilliantly and everything was well. It’s even written in my notes.
We saw a lovely midwife on our first morning home, everything was great, we felt like we were doing well. On the second morning, it was a different midwife. We’d had our worst night, we’d been up most of it. We had been warned the third night is the worst. But, we hardly managed to tell the mw this, when she told us abruptly that she thought I wasn’t feeding H correctly and she thought H was tongue-tied. We were in shock. Who is this lady coming into our house telling us our new baby isn’t feeding properly? Everyone else had told us differently. And, it’s well known that around day 3/4 the milk is changing from colostrum to milk and there can be less milk during this time. Well that’s without considering that our baby wasn’t meant to have gained weight already – she was 3 days old! Nevermind the fact that everyone else had seen me feeding her, and feeding her for a long time. The next day, we saw my own midwife for the first time since getting home and she was shocked, she said yes there might be a tongue tie, but, H’s latch looked perfect, and she was swallowing etc. as expected. We felt much better. My mw arranged for the specialist tongue-tie midwife to call us to get it diagnosed and snipped. It didn’t happen, she was on holiday and so was the equivalent mw at the next nearest hospital.
But H’s weight continued to decline. My mw was shocked each time. H looked heavier and looked so so healthy and most definitely not jaundiced. She fed lots and the telling gulp was there. We started to give H a bottle of formula every night for fear that we’d be sent into hospital. I’d do anything to make sure my little girl was getting everything she needed and if something was stopping her breastfeeding as she should, I’d use any means to stop her being hungry. At this point we did think she might be having some issues as she’d feed for an hour at a time falling asleep and then want more milk within the hour. I would add that we did enjoy the fact that hubby could give H a bottle every night and be involved (other than just waiting on me). H loved her daddy time and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
We didn’t reach the 12% reduction in weight threshold which means being referred to hospital, but we did get to 10%. H did start putting on weight again after a week. Then at 12 days old, we finally got the call and headed to the hospital at 10pm. We didn’t care the time, someone was finally going to tell us what was what and stop that threat that we’d have to go into hospital. Apparently most babies are up to birth weight by 10 days, and are discharged from midwife care. I struggle to believe this, many of our friends were in the similar situations.
At the hospital the midwife was lovely. H was 50% tongue tied, she snipped it there and then. It was over in seconds. H screamed a little, but was absolutely fine. I immediately fed her and 20 minute later we were on our way home.
But the difference was astounding. Being a first time mum I had no idea what breastfeeding was meant to feel like. I only felt that pull as she fed, as I sat in that room. I hadn’t felt that before, and, I now know that in future I’d know baby wasn’t feeding correctly.
H’s weight was almost up to her birth weight within 3 weeks and albeit she had dropped from being on the 50th centile at birth to the 25th, the midwife was happy and we were discharged.
I cannot express how worried and distraught we were that there was nothing we could do. Tongue tie is so so common, and given it can cause so many issues and could have sent us into hospital to be monitored, I cannot understand why more midwives are not trained to diagnose and treat it. On the night H was treated, there were 10 other babies in the same situation. It’s not a big hospital and that is a significant number given the number of births in the area.
From what I’ve now read, H had many ‘classic’ signs of tongue tie – such as a curved (u shaped) tongue when crying, with the centre held down), long feeds falling asleep (trying so hard to get the milk), and an obvious tongue-tie!
I also cannot express the the pain I was in attempting to feed her in those first couple of weeks. My nipples were black and bleeding, crusty and so so painful, and at times completely misshapen. Of course, breast is best had been drilled into me by everyone, however I’m so glad we made that call to give her some formula. If not, H and I would have had to spend time away from her daddy for absolutely no reason. It is a terrible situation, and that in itself would have cost the NHS far more than having properly trained staff to deal with tongue-tie immediately at birth, as it used to be. My breastfeeding pain quickly improved, and now, I absolutely love the experience of feeding H. I am so glad I persevered, but I can completely understand those who give up. I was so so close so many times, and to be honest if I’d known it wasn’t meant to be that bad, I would have given up (and believed something was wrong). But, there needs to be a change, we should not have been through that, we should have been enjoying H’s first few weeks, not being frustrated that the NHS were just plain not helping.
I hope I can use #WorldBreastfeedingWeek to help raise awareness of tongue-tie and it’s implications.
PS I’m sorry for the wordy nature of this post, it is quite unlike me. I really really appreciate everyone who reads this. Please share to raise awareness, and perhaps more can be done to prevent others going through similar experiences.