Pen Pal: A Tale of Two Tongues
When it comes to TT, there are many barriers to diagnosis and treatment. Hayley's frank account shows that even if you have the experience and do your homework, things don't always run smoothly. Two minis, two tongue ties and all too similar a tale.
Tongue Tie runs in my family, I had one, as did my sister and all four of her children. So I was prepared for the possibility that my children would be the same.
Baby Number One:
Feeding was agony. In hospital I asked if TT was a possibility; "Oh yeah... there it is!" However, rather than making a referral, I was to wait for my community midwife to see how we were getting on. Three days later; "oh yeah, right enough, there it is. Let's leave it for a few days just to see"….
Meanwhile, my nipples were cracked and bleeding. The pain made me cry during every feed, and along with recovering from fourth degree tears, PND was settling in nicely. Day five and a new midwife visits. She can't understand why a TT referral was not made in hospital! A further five days of utter hell. On day nine I was told about nipple shields. I wasn’t sure if I was over the moon with the sweet relief, or furious they hadn’t been mentioned before. But I was too busy crying to care.
No one seemed to understand that when I was already struggling to bond with my baby, wanting to throw him across the room every time he latched was horrendous. By now my tears were two fold; pain and guilt. I blame most of it on the TT. But I am willing to accept the hormones played there part!
At the TT clinic I was told that there are only two people in Glasgow trained to snip tongue ties, as explanation for the wait. The clinician was clearly angry the referral hadn't been made sooner given the significance of his TT; describing his tongue as "forked". The moment it was snipped, all was better.
Baby Number Two:
Due almost exactly two years later. I'm told that TT is hereditary and so this baby is likely to have one. I discussed TT until I was blue in the face. My midwife made sure my birth plan included “check for tongue tie”. I meet with my consultant re: my elective section, and I laboured the point! I told the midwife and the consultant on the day of my section about the importance of checking for TT.
"Good news!! No tongue tie!" Within 24 hours I'm cracked and bleeding. Every midwife on shift checks: they are certain there's no TT. The paediatrician checks, "nope... no sign of TT". I'm discharged two days later. Its de ja vu, I'm crying during every feed. The community midwife visits on day four and "he has a tongue tie!", the referral is made. I'm told there's a waiting list, I have to wait until the following week. I wanted to call the head of NHS Scotland, and sever their nipples with glass.
The pot of money to train professionals on TT could do with a top up. Asking a mummy with bleeding nipples to wait a week is torture, they may as well tell her she cannot go on and that she'll have to stop feeding. No amount of breastfeeding promotion can help a TT baby and mum, but a prompt diagnosis and treatment can.
The thing that helped the most the second time around were nipple shells (different to shields) that a lovely mummy friend told me about. She drove past my house on the same day to drop them off. Unlike the NHS, she knew a day felt like an eternity! When I told my midwife about them, she'd never heard of them! They were amazing, and again I found myself angry that health professionals hadn’t suggested them. Not just helping to relieve the pain, but helping me to continue breastfeeding.
So that's my story in a nut shell. Even being clued up and repeatedly having him checked, the lack of training was clear and it had a profound effect on me and my baby. Mummies and babies should be given prompt appointments and advice on products that can help.
Thank you Hayley for sharing this with us. Once all our tongue tie tales are told, we will collate the tips for teats and tits alike. In the meantime if you have any words of wisdom on the tip of your tongue, then we would love to hear Your Voice.