Tongue Tie and a Mother’s Instinct
By: Miss Mummy Life
When you have a baby, nothing quite prepares you for absolute obsession you will have over their bodily functions. Every wet or dirty nappy is an achievement and a sign that everything is all in working order. Every ounce of them is so incredibly important to you and giving you baby the nutrients they need in their milk is everything.
Having worked in the administrative side of general practice in the NHS for 5 years, there are certain aspects of medical terminology that you pick up. As the baby clinic was what I looked after, I had been lucky to see lots of babies every weeks and experience what the common issues with newborns. One of those common issues was tongue tie. A seemingly insignificant, simple issue that around 11% of babies will have.
But obviously, being a mum brings with it a new perspective on these things, especially when you child falls into that 11%.
In the hospital, with a one day old Eva and keen to get home and away from the busy maternity ward. I had noticed that Eva’s tongue looked to be a little tied to the bottom of her mouth, but when the paediatrician passed her to go home, I jumped at the chance.
A week later, the health visitor came round for the first time. I mentioned it to her and she confirmed that Eva did have a tongue tie. Even then I wasn’t worried. However, there was a long waiting list and due to it being November, that waiting list was made even longer by Christmas.
I was adamant that I would breastfeed my baby and in the beginning when she was just getting colostrum, things were fine. After about two weeks when Eva started to need more, things got difficult. I rang a breastfeeding helpline and was just told to persevere. Eva took a longer than normal to get back to her birth weight having lost 10% of her body weight. Nothing can describe the gut-wrenching feeling of guilt that came over me.
Once she was back at her birth weight, I expected things to get better. Her tongue tie appointment was booked but not until she was 9 weeks old.
Just before Christmas, the health visitor came to weigh her again and her body weight had dropped by 10% again. “This should not be happening”. We tried to bring her appointment forward, but there was no availability. I looked to the healthcare professionals for guidance and was told to preserve and not give up with breastfeeding.
We weighed her again a few days later and she was still losing weight. Trying to feed was a nightmare. There’s nothing worse than a crying hungry baby who is unable to latch. No amount of perseverance was helping. There was nothing that would help except for the minor surgery.
That day I finally let my instinct kick in. Ignored all of the health care professionals that wanted me as a number on a sheet in their efforts to increase the amount of breastfeeding mothers in the UK. Formula fed and never looked back! Eva put the weight back on within a week and has been growing rapidly ever since. She is still petite now, but I think she will catch up!
When the minor surgery appointment day came around, I had to admit it, I was nervous! I had a whole debate in my head of why did I need to go through with it if Eva’s feeding problems were resolved now. However, feeding is just the immediate issue with a tongue tie and although it may not cause any issues further down the line, it can cause problems with speech. Also, before three months, the skin is so thin that now anaesthetic is required, whereas if you leave it until later on (say, aged two), they would need to go under general anaesthetic.
I would like to reassure anybody that is going through the same thing that the procedure is over in less than 30 seconds. Eva cried more at injections than she did at having her tie cut and with a warm bottle waiting for her after it was all over, I felt so silly for making my mum take the day off work to come with me.
Although it was a tough few weeks and was made way worse than it needed to be with the pressure from the experts, it really did make me a better mum. Ever since then, it has made me trust my instinct above anything else. The experts are not always right and every child is different and mummy knows best!
About The Author: Miss Mummy Life is a blogger and first time mom to a beautiful baby girl. You can find her blog at https://missmummylife.wordpress.com/. Also, check her out on Instagram at @miss_mummy_life.