How to Tongue Tie

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When I was born I had a severe tongue tie. Due to having so many other ailments as a child I’m not really sure at what age I was when I got the proverbial snip. I’m told I was older than most.

Tongue tie
Before and After

When Daniel was born no-one mentioned any concerns about his tongue in the hospital. The midwife was similarly casual about it and we were more focused on other things like the huge ‘old man’ farts our newborn would let rip. My wife was having a lot of pain whilst breast-feeding but she did with our first-born and so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary. As the days went by, this pain continued at each feed and our chilled out little guy seemed to be screaming more than he was settled.

During feeds Daniel didn’t seem to be able to settle. He would guzzle, the noises resembling me necking a room temperature cup of coffee. He’d also end up with milk all over his face, up his little nose and escaping out the sides of his mouth, again just like his ol’ man. The wind seemed to cripple him and as aforementioned the farts and burps would make a grown man proud. During and straight after a feed he would vomit what seemed to be a lot of milk all over my wife (clothes, hair, face), the bed, the chair, the feeding pillow, his fresh sleep suit, you get the idea. He also wanted to feed constantly and as soon as the boobs came within a 10-foot radius he could sniff them out like Trusty from Lady and the Tramp.

As a lot of Mums do, Rachel put most of this on her own shoulders thinking she wasn’t feeding him in the right position or he was guzzling due to being starving. She even wondered if her diet could be affecting his fragile stomach and considered cutting out spicy foods, dairy, anything he could have a possible intolerance to. Maybe he had reflux?

Our health visitor came to meet Daniel at around 10-days old. During her routine checks she mentioned a suspected, slight tongue tie and suggested we take Daniel to be checked. After hearing our concerns about feeding/vomiting she also advised that Rachel attend a breast feeding support group. We were given an appointment within a couple of days and Rachel went along to the group – we were massively pleased with the support she received.

Cath, the specialist lady (I don’t know her proper title!) was at the group and was fantastic. Straight away she explained that Daniel had a slight tongue tie (Grade 3, whatever that means!) and this could be the cause for most of Rachel and Daniel’s discomfort. Apparently tongue tied babies can find it difficult to latch on properly when breast feeding meaning they take in air. Knowing this we joined the dots and realised all the symptoms could have been down to the tongue tie. The great thing about Cath is that she explained everything and we could make an informed decision. It was our choice if we wanted to have the tongue tie snipped or not. It may help with feeding if Daniel had the procedure and therefore it could improve things for all of us.

I had misconceptions that Daniel’s speech could be affected if the tongue tie remained but I also had fears that the procedure was cruel. I heard stories. It sounded like a scene from a horror. I spoke to numerous people about this and was warned my son would be upset for a while afterward and rather ominously, like the 2007 Box Office Smash, ‘There Will Be Blood‘. I had visions of my new born son being pinned down, his tongue being prized out using metal tongs and clamped. I mean how else do you get a new born to keep their tongue still long enough to snip?! All this while the baby was awake and most likely screaming out in pain. WHAT!? I wasn’t so sure.

Then my wife relayed what Cath had told her… the baby is swaddled, their tongue lifted by a finger and when there is a clear visualisation the tie is snipped. Apparently, there are no nerves in that part if the tongue and very little blood vessels so we could expect a drop or two of blood at most if done properly. Cath said most babies find the lifting of the tongue the most annoying part. Rachel also reminded me that I myself had the procedure for a much more severe tie and I’m still here to tell the tale and actually have no recollection even though I was a toddler at the time. We made the decision to take Daniel for the snip. The appointment was the following Monday, just 4 days away. I was happy to take time off work to come along to support the little fella (or ‘fellow’ as Ayla regularly corrects us) but I was slightly relieved that I wasn’t needed.

As Monday rolled around I was pretty nervous and found myself checking my phone around the appointment time. I was so relieved to receive a call to say that everything was done and Daniel had slept through it. That’s my boy! I’d like to say that my son is hard as nails but apparently this is a common occurrence. The snip took 30 seconds and Rachel got him straight onto the boob. The only evidence of the incident was a small watery blood stain on Daniel’s bib.

Fast forward a few weeks and we have seen a big difference in our little guy. Rachel noticed a change in his latch pretty much straight away and I’m told it’s much less painful to feed him. The wind pain problem seems to have subsided and apart from the odd whimper when getting a burp up he’s really settled. The farts are still just as epic and he still like a little vom just not quite as often. Daniel is a little bruiser, gaining a good amount each week and I’ll be getting him on the weights in no time. For us it was the right decision to go ahead with the tongue tie snip. Having all of the information and not being scared/pressurised into doing it was really important for us and we can’t thank Cath and the Breast Feeding Support Team enough.

The competitive Daddoo in me would also like to inform you that my tongue tie was right at the front and spread the width of my tongue and Daniel’s was merely a grade 3. Better luck next time, son.

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